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Yeast infections in dogs are a common problem, and can happen in and on several parts of the body. Even though yeast can grow anywhere on the skin, the areas that are most commonly affected include the ears, paws and skin folds.
Vets diagnose yeast infections in dogs through a combination of physical exam findings and simple lab tests. If your vet suspects an underlying condition that’s contributing to your dog’s yeast woes, then they’ll likely recommend additional testing to determine the root cause. If used properly and if the underlying cause is addressed, medicated shampoos are very effective in eradicating yeast overgrowth (and help your dog smell good too!). That way, your vet can make sure to promptly treat any underlying issues, including hormonal problems or allergies. Dr. Wooten has spoken in the veterinary education space for 5 years, and speaks on leadership, client communication, and personal development. In addition to being a speaker, author, veterinarian, and co-creator of the wildly popular card game ‘Vets Against Insanity’, she co-owns Elevated Eateries Restaurant group in Greeley with her husband of 21 years, and together they are raising 3 slightly feral mini-humans. When it is time to play, she can be found skiing in Colorado, diving with sharks in the Caribbean, or training kenpo karate in her local dojo.
Yeast dermatitis is an inflammatory skin condition that occurs fairly regularly in dogs, especially in skin folds, ears, between paw pads or in other hot, humid areas of their body. These conditions encourage yeast to reproduce at increased rates until it becomes an overwhelming issue.
Regular cleaning and grooming with Vetericyn products is one of the most effective ways you can help ensure no new skin or ear irritations develop on your pet.
Yeast are spore-producing fungi that are always present on a dog’s skin, usually in low numbers, as part of the normal flora. A yeast infection happens when there’s an excessive amount of yeast in a certain area.
Yeast infections in dogs are quite common and can occur anywhere on the skin, including the ears. Anything that diminishes the normal defenses in the skin can make yeast infections more likely. This means that there is some other issue that is weakening the skin’s defense mechanisms to allow the yeast to grow in higher numbers than normal. Other underlying issues that may cause yeast infections in dogs include hormonal problems or other diseases that suppress the immune system. There are no studies to confirm that any of the following cause yeast infections on a dog’s skin: Yeast infections can cause red, irritated, or itchy skin or ears, and there is often a sweet or musty odor. Chronic yeast infections can cause the skin to become thickened and discolored (gray, brown, or black). Yeast infections can occur anywhere on a dog’s skin, including the belly. The affected skin may be red, irritated, itchy, greasy, or flaky, and there may be hair loss. Yeast infections in a dog’s ears generally cause redness, a brown discharge, head shaking or rubbing, odor, and itching. Ear mite infections are extremely itchy and can cause many of the same symptoms. Ear mites are barely visible to the naked eye and highly contagious to other animals. Your veterinarian may perform cytology (taking a swab of the discharge and staining it to look at it under the microscope) to diagnose a yeast infection in a dog’s ears. Treatments for yeast infections on the skin can include topical antifungal creams, wipes, sprays, and shampoos. Topical ingredients that are effective in treating yeast include chlorhexidine, miconazole, and ketoconazole . Oral antifungal medications used in dogs include fluconazole, terbinafine, ketoconazole, and itraconazole. People often talk about home remedies for dog yeast infections, but most are not proven to be effective. There are no studies to confirm that feeding any of the following is beneficial in treating yeast on a dog’s skin: There are no studies to confirm that topical use of any of the following are useful in treating yeast infections in dogs: Vinegar rinses do have scientific data to support that they may be beneficial in treating yeast. Vinegar helps to change the pH of the skin to make it less favorable for yeast. However, for shampoo treatment to be effective, the lather must sit on a dog’s skin for a minimum of 10 minutes before rinsing. If you suspect that your dog has a yeast infection, consult your regular veterinarian for a diagnosis and treatment plan that is appropriate for your pet.
Yeast dermatitis or Malassezia dermatitis is caused by the fungus Malassezia pachydermatis. It is an extremely common cause of skin disease in dogs. This yeast is normally found on the skin, but its abnormal overgrowth can cause dermatitis, or inflammation of the skin.
If conditions on the skin change or if the immune system is suppressed, these bacteria and fungi can cause infection. Treatment for yeast dermatitis may be topical, oral, or a combination of both, and is based on the severity of your dog’s condition. Many dogs with greasy or oily skin will require an initial ‘degreasing’ cleansing with a shampoo containing selenium sulfide or benzoyl peroxide. In more severe, chronic, or persistent cases of yeast dermatitis, the use of oral or systemic anti-fungal medications is often required. Because these drugs have potential side effects, particularly involving the liver, close monitoring with routine blood tests is necessary. If the dog has a relapse of the fungal infection after an initial successful treatment, a higher dose of the antifungal medication will usually be required. Most dogs with advanced or chronic yeast dermatitis are treated with a combination of oral and topical treatment. While the condition usually requires long-term treatment, the majority of cases respond favorably and the itching is reduced within a week of beginning therapy. “In cases with underlying allergies or immune compromise, the prognosis is based on the ability to control those conditions.” In cases with underlying allergies or immune compromise, the prognosis is based on the ability to control those conditions.
Signs of a Yeast Infection
Dogs with ear yeast infections will have red, itchy ears that stink. They’ll also likely have copious amounts of dark brown earwax. Dog ear yeast infections are very itchy, and affected dogs may constantly scratch their ears and shake their heads. They may also rub their ears along furniture or along the carpet — leaving their signature scent everywhere they rub — or groan when you scratch their ears.If your dog has a skin yeast infection, their skin will be itchy and red. They may also experience hair loss and smell bad. If your dog is constantly chewing on their paws and the underside of the paw is red, swollen and smells bad, it could be a yeast infection. If a yeast infection goes on long enough, it can make the skin thicken and turn rough and black.
Causes of Yeast Infections in Dogs
Small numbers of malassezia (the main species of yeast that affects dogs) regularly live on healthy dogs. Normally, the immune system keeps yeast numbers in check. A yeast infection occurs when something compromises the health or balance of the skin or ears, causing yeast to overgrow. Conditions that can predispose dogs to yeast overgrowth include inhalant allergies; food allergies; hormonal conditions such as thyroid disease, diabetes and hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing Disease in dogs); and anything that negatively impacts the immune system.In addition, dogs can develop a version of swimmer’s ear. Yeast loves moisture. If your dog swims or plays in water a lot, or if you don’t dry out their ears after bathing them, then the wet environment in the ear canal can predispose them to a yeasty ear infection.
How a Yeast Infection Gets Diagnosed
If you think your dog is suffering from a yeast infection, then it’s time to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. If your dog does have a yeast infection, then that means two things:If you don’t correct or address the underlying condition, then even if you treat the yeast infection with anti-yeast medication, the problem will return. Treatment of the underlying cause depends on what it is. Allergies can be managed with special food, reducing exposure to allergies or allergy medication. Hormonal conditions can be managed with vet-prescribed medication.
Treating a Yeast Infection
If your dog has a yeast infection in their ears, then your vet will likely prescribe a combination of ear cleaning and topical medication that’s applied to the ears. Cleaning ears is an important part of treatment, as it removes debris that can clog up the ear canal. If you’ve never cleaned your dog’s ears, ask your vet to show you how it’s done. Your vet may also prescribe a medicated lotion or cream to apply in your dog’s ears once or twice daily after cleaning. Give this medicine as recommended by your vet, don’t skip doses and don’t stop early — even if your dog is doing better. Yeast infections like to hide deep in ear canals and if you stop too soon, you risk creating drug resistance and your dog getting another infection.Skin yeast infections can be treated in multiple ways. Your vet might prescribe an oral anti-yeast medicine. However, topical treatments, such as prescription strength anti-yeast cream, lotion, shampoo and wipes, are also effective. If your dog has a yeast infection on their paws, medicated wipes or lotion can be effective.If your dog has a widespread skin yeast infection, your vet may prescribe shampoo with ketoconazole. The shampoo needs to be in contact with the skin for five to ten minute before being rinsed off. If used properly and if the underlying cause is addressed, medicated shampoos are very effective in eradicating yeast overgrowth (and help your dog smell good too!). Be sure to follow your vet’s instructions regarding any prescribed treatments.
Preventing Yeast Infections in Dogs
Yeast infections are a sign that something else is going on. The most effective way to prevent your dog from getting a yeast infection is to address any underlying causes. It can be as simple as drying your dog’s ears after they go for a swim. Be sure to take your dog in for yearly examinations and annual bloodwork. That way, your vet can make sure to promptly treat any underlying issues, including hormonal problems or allergies. If your dog has a food allergy, talk with your vet about trying a prescription food that either has limited ingredients or is hypoallergenic.
What Are the Symptoms of Yeast Infections in Dogs?
Yeast infections can cause red, irritated, or itchy skin or ears, and there is often a sweet or musty odor.Chronic yeast infections can cause the skin to become thickened and discolored (gray, brown, or black).Here are the most common areas for yeast infections in dogs and some signs that you can look out for.
Yeast infections can occur anywhere on a dog’s skin, including the belly. They are often seen in areas that are moist, such as in skin folds, especially in “wrinkly” dog breeds.The affected skin may be red, irritated, itchy, greasy, or flaky, and there may be hair loss.If the infection is chronic, the skin may thicken and become darker in color. Yeast infections on a dog’s mouth or face can cause extreme itching or face rubbing.
A dog with yeast infections on their paws can have red, irritated, and itchy paws.The underside of the paws, between the pads, is affected most often, but yeast can occur anywhere on the paws. Sometimes a brown discharge can be seen in the nail beds.Dogs with yeast infections on the paws usually lick their paws more than normal. There may also be hair loss.
Dog ear yeast infections are quite common, and the ears often smell sweet or musty.Usually, you will see redness, which may extend onto the flap of the ear, and the discharge is generally brown. The ear may appear to be greasy, and the hair may be matted.Yeast infections in a dog’s ears can be very itchy, causing dogs to scratch their ears or rub their head excessively.
What’s the Difference Between Ear Mites and Yeast Infections in Dogs?
Yeast infections in a dog’s ears generally cause redness, a brown discharge, head shaking or rubbing, odor, and itching.Ear mite infections are extremely itchy and can cause many of the same symptoms. The discharge from the ear is usually dark and waxy or crusty. Ear mites are barely visible to the naked eye and highly contagious to other animals.Your veterinarian can easily determine whether a dog’s ear problem is caused by yeast or mites by taking a swab from their ear and looking at it under a microscope.
What’s the Best Dog Yeast Infection Treatment?
The best treatment for a yeast infection on a dog depends on the location of the yeast infection.
Your veterinarian may perform cytology (taking a swab of the discharge and staining it to look at it under the microscope) to diagnose a yeast infection in a dog’s ears.Prescription treatment may include antifungal drops or ointment, an ear cleaner, and in severe or difficult-to-treat cases, an oral antifungal medication.
Skin and Paws
Cytology is also used to diagnose yeast on the skin.Treatments for yeast infections on the skin can include topical antifungal creams, wipes, sprays, and shampoos.Topical ingredients that are effective in treating yeast include chlorhexidine, miconazole, and ketoconazole.In difficult-to-treat or severe cases, oral antifungal medications are used. Oral antifungal medications used in dogs include fluconazole, terbinafine, ketoconazole, and itraconazole. These medications should be used only under the direction of a veterinarian.
Yeast Dermatitis in Dogs
What are the clinical signs of a yeast skin infection?
Yeast dermatitis or
How is yeast dermatitis diagnosed?
The skin is host to innumerable bacteria and fungi. Under normal circumstances, these organisms do not cause a problem and are kept under control by the immune system. If conditions on the skin change or if the immune system is suppressed, these bacteria and fungi can cause infection. These types of infections are termedA common cause of a yeast skin infection is an increase in the amount of oils produced on the skin. This is most frequently associated with allergic skin disease. Another common cause of excess skin oils isSome dogs have an immune deficiency making them ineffective at fighting yeast infections resulting in chronic infection. Dogs that receive immunosuppressive drugs such as corticosteroids (steroids) may also be unable to effectively prevent yeast infections, so may develop a chronic yeast infection.Yeast dermatitis is not contagious; your dog did not get this infection from another dog. Opportunistic yeast infections often recur unless the underlying allergy or skin condition is controlled.There are certain breeds thought to be genetically predisposed to developing yeast infections. These breeds include West Highland White Terrier, Basset Hound, Cocker Spaniel, Silky Terrier, Australian Terrier, Maltese Terrier, Chihuahua, Poodle, Shetland Sheepdog, Lhasa Apso, and Dachshund.
How is yeast dermatitis treated?
Treatment for yeast dermatitis may be topical, oral, or a combination of both, and is based on the severity of your dog’s condition.Although these medications are highly effective, they must be given for prolonged periods of time (often several months). Because these drugs have potential side effects, particularly involving the liver, close monitoring with routine blood tests is necessary. If the dog has a relapse of the fungal infection after an initial successful treatment, a higher dose of the antifungal medication will usually be required. Most dogs with advanced or chronic yeast dermatitis are treated with a combination of oral and topical treatment.