Yeast Infections in Dogs
If an excessive amount of yeast (which is normally found on your pet's skin) develops on your dog's skin or in the ears, your pup can develop a yeast infection. Yeast is a natural spore-producing fungus on a dog's body that doesn't typically cause illness unless there is too much of it.
Yeast dermatitis is also referred to as Malassezia dermatitis or yeast infection and usually develop between a dog's paw pads, in their skin folds or in their ears. This condition can cause redness, swelling, itchiness and irritation in the affected areas of your dog's skin. Yeast infections i a dog's ear can also lead to deafness if the condition is left untreated for too long.
What does yeast dermatitis look like on a dog?
Several signs and symptoms can indicate your dog has yeast dermatitis, including:
- Musty odor
- Redness or itching
- Crusty, flaky skin or scales
- Chronic or recurring otitis externa (ear infections_
- Thickened skin ('elephant skin')
Odor, redness and swelling are typically the first symptoms to develop around the infected area but may progress to other symptoms, including pain and warmth. If you notice your dog is showing any symptoms of yeast dermatitis, contact your veterinarian to book an appointment for your pooch.
What causes yeast dog dermatitis?
Yeast and other naturally occurring bacteria and fungi accumulate on your dog's skin. Under normal circumstances, these wouldn't cause any issues. However, if a trigger causes a change in your pup's skin condition or their immune system, opportunistic yeast infections can become an issue. Some common causes of yeast dermatitis in dogs include:
- An underactive or overreactive immune system
- Allergens (smoke, mold, dust, dander, cleaning products, etc.)
- Foods high in sugar and carbs
- Heat and humidity
- Poor hygiene
- Trapped moisture in skin folds, ears, or paw pads
- Frequent bathing (ear yeast infections)
- Swimming (ear yeast infections)
- Trapped object in the ear, ear wax, or discharge (ear yeast infections)
- Certain ear drops (ear yeast infection)
What is the difference between ear mites and yeast infections in dogs?
Brown discharge, head rubbing or shaking, itching and odor generally come with yeast dermatitis or infections in dogs.
Ear mites are tiny, spider-like parasites found in dogs, cats, ferrets and foxes. While they don't bite, infections do cause irritation that can make your dog ears extremely itchy.
Ear mites can cause many of the same symptoms as yeast dermatitis, with dark, waxy or crusty discharge from the ear. Ear mites are barely visible to the naked eye and highly contagious to other animals.
Your veterinarian can easily find out whether your dog's ear problem is caused by yeast or mites by taking an ear swab and examining it under a microscope.
What is the best treatment for my dog's yeast dermatitis?
If you believe your dog has yeast dermatitis, call your vet first, as the sooner their condition is addressed, the faster your pup will recover. Your veterinarian will be able to examine your dog and diagnose your pooch's infection by culturing or with cytology. They may also take hair and skin samples from around the infected area for additional testing.
After diagnosing your dog with yeast dermatitis, your vet will prescribe an antifungal medication that may contain an ointment to apply to the infected area or a medicated shampoo to help relive symptoms. For a more serious infection, your vet may prescribe oral tables such as ketoconazole, fluconazole, or terbinafine.
Can I use home remedies to prevent my dog from developing yeast dermatitis?
Though yeast infections should be attended to by a veterinarian to make sure there are no secondary infections or complications, there are a few ways you can help to prevent your dog from developing yeast infections such as:
- Completely drying your pup after a bath or playing in the water
- Cleaning your dog's ears of dirt regularly with a clean cloth or cotton ball
- Feed your pooch a healthy diet full of protein and other nutrients
- Brush your dog often as part of their regular hygiene routine to clear away dead skin and dirt
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.