The complete guide to yeast infections in dogs

The complete guide to yeast infections in dogs

Yeast is a fungus that occurs naturally in many areas of a dog’s body. While a certain amount of yeast is desirable and healthy, an excessive amount can lead to yeast infection. This condition, known medically as malassezia dermatitis, can occur in any dog, irrespective of age, sex or breed. However, dogs that have wrinkly skin, such as boxers, bulldogs and pugs, as well as dogs with large drooping ears, such as setters, spaniels and hounds, are more prone to develop yeast infection.

Dog yeast infections are generally caused by immune system deficiencies, allergies and oily skin. Yeast flourishes in hot, moist spots and tends to build up in areas of a dog’s body that are greasy and oily. If you suspect your dog has a yeast infection, you should show it to a veterinarian and follow the preventive measures discussed in this guide.

How can you tell if your dog has a yeast infection

The symptoms of yeast infections will depend on where on the dog it occurs. Yeast infections cause considerable irritation for dogs and you will find your pet biting or scratching the affected area if it’s on the skin, especially the paws. The skin will become thick, red, scaly and thickened. There may be reddish hair in the spot

A dog ear yeast infection will cause your pet to constantly tilt its head and flap its ears. You will also find an excessive amount of wax in your pet’s ears.. Thrush, sores around the mouth, drooling and difficulty swallowing food are all signs of yeast infection in the mouth. Symptoms of urinary yeast include malodorous urine, poor appetite, tiredness, difficulty in urination and pain in the bladder area. The dog may also urinate in the house and develop nausea.  In most cases, the dog will have the yeast infection in more than one area.

A common feature of all yeast infections is that the dogs will develop a strong musty, moldy odor, not unlike corn chip. If your dog has such an odor together with a greasy coat, it is a strong indication that it is suffering from yeast infection. This is also an excellent way to differentiate a yeast infection from an allergic reaction.

It is easy to get confused because yeast infections and allergies are so similar in terms of symptoms and occur cyclically when temperatures rise in spring, stopping once temperatures fall with the approach of winter. Allergies also cause heat and inflammation leading to itchiness and the dog incessantly licking and gnawing at its paw. Consequently, it is easy to dismiss a yeast infection as an allergic reaction so it pays to be vigilant about the differences.

Owners often find it difficult to tell if they have a dog ear mites vs yeast infection problem. This is because both have very similar symptoms. Ear mites are tiny parasites that feed on the wax in your dog’s ears. Not only do ear mites rapidly breed in the canine’s ear, it can also spread to other areas of the body. In the ear, the mites can cause inflammation and infection which, if left untreated, can lead to permanent hearing loss. The mites will cause redness, swelling, a buildup of reddish wax and cause the dog to shake its head.

While these are identical symptoms of yeast infection, a noticeable difference is that ear mites will leave a dark, grainy residue. If the problem is ear mites, your veterinarian will prescribe anti-parasitic lotions to wash the ear canal. Fortunately, ear mites rarely pass on to humans but make sure you perform a deep clean of your house after your dog has been treated, as the parasites are highly contagious and can easily pass onto another pet or return to your dog.

Top yeast infection localizations in dogs

Yeast is prevalent in many areas of the dog’s body, naturally occurring in its mouth, ears, nose, intestines and urinary tract. Excessive amounts can easily lead to a yeast infection in those areas. In addition, yeast infection can occur in the fold of skins, which is why certain breeds are more susceptible to it. Yeast infection also occurs when itchiness has caused the dogs to lick and bite the irritated area. This results in tiny abrasions, particularly in the ears and paw pads, that are the ideal environment for yeast growth, being warm, moist and full of bodily fluids.

Treating yeast infections in dogs

If the yeast infection has occurred on the skin, topical treatments are generally prescribed. In many cases, the dog will have to be bathed in an anti-fungal shampoo. If the dog has excessively oily skin, it may first have to be bathed in a shampoo that has selenium sulfide or benzoyl peroxide. After that has been washed off, the dog is bathed with a medicated shampoo that contains miconazole, chlorhexidine or ketoconazole. This shampoo must be kept on the dog for 10 minutes before being washed off. This treatment is usually repeated every 3 – 5 days for two to twelve weeks.

Dog ear yeast infection treatment will depend on the nature of the infection. To begin with, the vet will examine the ear. If the infection is in the outer ear canal, a topical antifungal cream or ointment with miconazole or ketoconazole may be prescribed. On the other hand, a middle ear yeast infection will be treated with tablets or injections. The ear canal may also be subject to a full cleaning.

Oral medicine and injections are also used to treat yeast infections that occur in the mouth, urinary tract and other internal areas of the body or if the infection is too severe or persistent to be treated with only topical medicine.

Home remedies that you can use to aid treatment include treating yeast infected paws by soaking them in a solution of 1 gallon of water, 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide and up to 4 cups of white vinegar.  In addition areas that have yeast infection should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected everyday.

As with all illnesses, however, catching it early makes treatment much easier. Be attentive to your dog’s behavior. Most canines indicate that they have yeast infection by biting and licking the affected area or shaking the head if the infection is in the ears. By closely observing your dog, you will be able to tell if there is something wrong. Also check your dog’s ears, skin and mouth often. Is there anything wrong with its urine? Keeping a watchful eye will help catch the infection before it becomes serious.

Keeping your dog clean can help prevent yeast infections from occurring, especially on the skin. Many dogs love to swim in lakes and ponds that are full of bacteria and fungi. Make sure that you give the dog a bath on coming home. Towel the dog till it’s completely dry, paying particular attention to the ears.

Yeast infections can also occur when dogs are on a poor diet. Dogs that have a nutritious wholesome diet are less susceptible than those that are fed highly processed dog food. Supplements that help its gastrointestinal health by boosting the beneficial bacteria in its gut will also keep yeast infections at bay while strengthening the dog’s health and vitality.

Diet to avoid yeast infection in dogs

Yeast infections are recurring problems for some dogs, Consequently, it is important to feed your dog the correct diet to ward off yeast infections and prevent them from returning.

Carbs and sugar encourage yeast growth and should be avoided. The dog’s diet should be high in clean, digestible proteins. Ideally 70-80% of its daily intake should be protein with nutritious fruits and vegetables making up the remaining 20%. Carbs should not be more than 25% of your dog’s diet.  Do not feed your dog dry foods that you can find at the supermarket or pet store as they are high in carbohydrates.

Supplements are useful for dogs suffering from yeast infections. High levels of probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, in the gut can inhibit the growth of yeast and help the dog’s body to fight the yeast infection. While a probiotics supplement will directly help in the treatment of gastrointestinal yeast infection, it is also beneficial if there is yeast infection in other areas of the dog’s body as it could have spread from the gut. In such cases, the probiotics can inhibit the spread of the yeast from the gut to the affected area.

Ensure that your pet has a daily intake of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids in equal quantities. This will protect the health of the dog’s skin, nourishing and repairing it. These supplements also have anti-inflammatory properties. Since inflammation can cause moist hot spots that can lead to yeast infection, and also produce the greasy coats associated with allergies, warding it off plays a vital role in preventing yeast infection. Heat is another contributory factor to the spread of yeast infection. You can help bring down your dog’s body temperature by avoiding heaty food and adding cooling proteins such as fish, rabbit and duck to its diet.

Frequently Asked Questions

What to feed when dog has a yeast infection

The important thing to bear in mind is that yeast is dependent on sugar for survival, so it’s vital to avoid sugar and carbohydrates. Dry dog food contains 50-60% carbohydrates and should not be given to a dog suffering from yeast infection. A simple raw meat diet is perfect for dogs with some fruits and vegetables thrown in. Ensure that it has lots of lean meat with some bone as well. If there is meat on the bone, so much the better. Fresh meat can consist of beef, fish, chicken, lamb, pork, duck. Eggs are also a valuable source of protein. At least 10% of the diet should include organ meat such as liver, kidney and tripe. Fruits and vegetables, especially dark, leafy greens, can make up 25% of the diet.

How to clean dog ears with yeast infection

If your dog has a yeast infection in its ears, it should be diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian. However, there are some dog yeast infection home remedies that you can use to aid the prescribed medicine and reduce the irritation that the dog feels. Vinegar is a great choice, reducing the discomfort that the dog is experiencing while controlling any inflammation in the ear. Organic apple cider vinegar is excellent for this purpose. Mix equal quantities of vinegar and filtered water and wipe the visible parts of the ear with cotton wool that has been soaked with the mixture. Another great choice is green tea which contains antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation. Boil two tea bags in 8 oz of water. Once it has cooled down, sponge the ear canal with the mixture.    

Another natural medicine that you can consider is grapefruit seed extract, which is a powerful natural antioxidant that has antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. To use it, mix 10 drops of grapefruit seed extract with ½ oz of pure aloe vera juice and apply on the ears. Calendula has antimicrobial properties and can reduce pain and inflammation. Buy it in tincture form and add 5 to 10 drops of it to 1 cup of lukewarm filtered water. Sponge the dog’s ears with the mixture. You can also consider using Oil of Oregano which is a natural antibiotic. Add one drop to ½ oz of warm pure aloe vera juice. Soak some cotton wool in the mixture and wipe the dog’s ears.

Does yogurt help yeast infection in dogs – and how much should I give?

Bear in mind that probiotic yogurt is good in theory, but will not have probiotics to therapeutic levels to control yeast levels. Also, many dogs are lactose intolerant and giving yogurt could cause diarrhea and other problems. Therefore, you shouldn’t count on yogurt to give your dog the desired levels of probiotics if it has a yeast infection. However, a healthy dog could benefit from probiotic yogurt which will help maintain a suitable amount of healthy bacteria in the gut, inhibiting the growth of yeast to problematic levels.

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