In Focus: What is a Dog Yeast Infection?

by | Aug 7, 2021 | Dog Health

Have you noticed your dog itching more than usual? Maybe your pet is scratching its ear or dragging its butt across the floor to relieve the itch. Itchiness, redness, and flaky skins are all signs of a possible yeast infection. 

But what is a dog yeast infection and how can you treat it? In this blog, you’ll learn how to spot the signs, determine the causes, and what you can do for treatment and prevention. 

What is a dog yeast infection?

A yeast infection in dogs is a common skin disease where yeast develops excessively in a certain area. Yeast is a spore-producing fungus that occurs naturally on the skin but is usually present in small numbers. Also known as Malassezia dermatitis, yeast infections are usually found in the ears, skin folds, and in between paw pads. Overgrown yeast can make your pet uncomfortable. A yeast infection in the ear could cause deafness if left untreated, for instance. 

What are the signs of a dog yeast infection?

Here are some signs and symptoms to watch out for if you suspect your pooch has a yeast infection:

  • Itching and redness: Constant itchiness caused by the yeast infection will prompt your pet to scratch and rub different areas of the body for relief. 
  • Sores on the skin: You might notice circular-shaped lesions forming on your dog’s skin that are itchy and sore.
  • Funky odors: If your dog has a yeast problem, it might have a distinct, musty smell that wasn’t present before. 
  • Scaly and flaky skin: Your pet’s skin can turn crusted and flaky, resembling dandruff. 
  • Changes in skin color and texture: During the early stages of the infection, your dog’s skin will turn pink or red. As it gets worse, your pet’s skin could thicken and turn gray or black.
  • Hair loss: Dogs tend to lose fur in their tail or upper back, or in the areas where the fungus develops. 
  • Head shaking and tilting: If your dog’s ears are infected with yeast, it could prompt them to habitually tilt and shake the head to relieve uncomfortable sensations. 
  • Loss of hearing: Serious cases of dog yeast development could block the ear’s pathways and lead to deafness.

This skin disease can develop in any part of your pet’s body, but common areas are your dog’s paws, ears, and folded areas of skin. 

Additionally, some dogs are more prone to developing this skin condition. These breeds include: 

  • Shih Tzus
  • Basset Hounds
  • Boxers
  • Poodles
  • Dachshunds
  • American Cocker Spaniels
  • West Highland White Terriers
  • German Shepherd
  • Golden and Labrador Retrievers
  • Maltese

What are the causes of a dog yeast infection?

Many factors can contribute to your pet getting yeast dermatitis. We’ve listed the common causes of this skin problem below: 

  • Allergens: Exposure to foreign substances like pollen, mold, dust, smoke, and house cleaning products can cause yeast infections.
  • Environment: Yeast growth can be seasonal depending on the environment. In particular, yeast thrives in moist and humid areas. 
  • Floppy skin: Yeast tends to grow between excess skin folds, so they’re usually common in dogs with floppy ears. So make sure to always keep your dog’s ears and paw pads clean. 
  • Oil & wax: Oil is naturally found on the skin as well as the ears. However, improper grooming can trap the oil and promote the excessive build-up of fungus. 
  • Moist areas: Moist areas like ears, armpits, genitals, and paws are all breeding grounds for yeast. Your canine could also be at risk if it’s adventurous and likes playing around in the water often.
  • Other medical conditions: A weak immune system is prone to yeast overgrowth. In a similar vein, an overactive immune system could also trigger adverse fungus growth from allergic reactions.

How do you treat yeast dermatitis in dogs?

If you suspect your dog has a yeast infection, take them to the vet as early as possible. Early detection will help your dog recover more quickly, after all. 

Your vet will start by taking a sample of your dog’s skin to detect the presence and quantity of yeast. Once diagnosed with the yeast infection, your vet will prescribe an antifungal medicine. It could include ointments such as miconazole which is applied to the infected area. Your vet may also suggest using special antifungal shampoo to relieve the symptoms. 

Oral tablets such as fluconazole, ketoconazole, or terbinafine may be prescribed for more serious cases of the condition. 

However, if your dog’s ears are infected, it could cause deafness. When this happens, it may require a surgical procedure called total ear canal ablation. Since surgeries and other treatments for injuries can get steep, it always pays to get a dog’s health insurance for your peace of mind. 

Home alternatives you can try

There are other ways you can prevent yeast infections in case you’re wondering what the best dog yeast infection home remedy is available.

Although some dogs are more prone to yeast dermatitis there are simple steps that can take to help prevent the condition:

  1. Dry your pet properly. Make sure that your pet is completely dry after they take a bath or play in the water.
  2. Clean their ears often. Don’t forget to clean your pooch’s ears regularly because they’re a perfect area for fungal and bacteria growth. You may use a simple cotton ball swab to clean your dog’s ears of dirt.
  3. Brush their hair. Frequently brushing pet fur is part of regular hygiene. Brushing helps remove dirt and dead skin that could contribute to infections. 
  4. Maintain a healthy diet. Strengthen your dog’s immune system by including food with natural antifungal properties in their diet. including coconut oil, oregano, and high protein meat. You may also feed your pet raw dog food because it aids in digestion, promotes healthy skin, and strengthens the immune system. 

To learn more about how you can help take care of your dog and treat other conditions or injuries, explore the TLPOInfo blog.


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