Yeast Infection in Dogs

You may think you don't know what a yeast infection in dogs looks like, but if you have an itchy dog, especially the ears and paws, then you may be looking at exactly that.  Yeast!

If you want to know what it literally looks like, below is a close-up photo of my dog's ear when it was infected with yeast. Yuck!

Yeast is more prevalent in the summertime as it thrives in hot and humid weather and often gets mistaken for allergies. 

But make no mistake, yeast causes lots of itching, paw chewing and butt scooting for your dog. 

So, what is yeast and how should it be treated?


How Yeast Affects Your Dog

Well, yeast is a fungus that likes to grow in moist areas. Yeast on a dog typically affects a dog's skin resulting in an itchy dog.  Malassezia is the most common type found on a dog's skin and is usually found on the paws, ear canals, armpits, jowls, anal area and any skin folds that your pooch may have.  

The areas most affected are the ears and paws.  Yeast in dog's ears is very common especially with dogs with floppy ears.  But, it's not restricted to floppy-eared dogs and swimming will make it worse.  Most often the ears will give off a rather unpleasant pungent smell that's hard to ignore.  

Although finding small amounts of yeast on dogs is normal, it only becomes a problem when yeast grows out of control.  Well, that's usually the case, but there is an exception to that.  The exception being is if your dog is allergic to yeast. In that case, even a small amount of yeast will be a problem, it doesn't need to be out of control at all.

There aren't many articles or websites on the topic of yeast infections in dogs that mention this, but I thought I would as it took me about 4 years to find out! After many years of Ava's itchy ears I finally had skin allergy tests done which showed she was allergic to yeast, amongst other things. This means that even a small amount of yeast will cause her to itch and scratch like crazy.

So let me re-phrase that. Yeast can be found on most dogs but doesn't usually bother them unless it grows out of control OR if the dog is allergic to the yeast. 

My Mum's dog (Tess) had really smelly ears, but it took my Mum a couple of years to get to the bottom of the problem. You can read her story here and see if it sounds familiar.
Yeast infections in dogs.

Dogs sweat from their paws so it's the paws that contain a moist wet environment that yeast loves.  You can usually tell if a dog has yeast on their paws by the pungent smell...it's a bit like Fritos.  They'll also be licking and chewing at their paws a lot.  Their saliva discolors the fur making it a rust color.  You'll notice this on any areas that they lick, including the fur between their toes.  Of course, if your dog is already this color or has dark fur, you won't notice the discoloration that much. 

Dogs that suffer from yeast infections often have a lowered immune system allowing the fungus to proliferate.  Antibiotic use is also something that often causes the fungus to start growing out of control.  However, some dogs (mine and my Mum's included) just suffer from the itchy symptoms of yeast as soon as the weather gets hot and humid. 


Treatment for a Yeast Infection in Dogs

Yeast infections in dogs are best treated with a two-pronged approach:

  1. Treat the digestive tract - Many yeast infections start in the dog's digestive tract, usually as the result of a compromised immune system, which can then leak out and manifest as skin problems.  Adding liquid salmon oil, probiotics, and digestive enzymes to your dog's diet will help to keep the yeast at a manageable level preventing this break-out from occurring.
  2. Treat the local skin area - As yeast is a fungus it must be treated topically with regular baths with anti-fungal shampoos and sprays.

1) Treating the Digestive Tract

As with many things, prevention is key to treating the cause and treating at the root is essential.  By starting with treatment at the digestive tract you are getting to the root cause of many skin issues in dogs, yeast included.

Treating the digestive tract is probably the easiest method of combating a yeast infection in dogs.  Salmon oil will boost the immune system and probiotics will start to work on clearing out the yeast internally which, in time, will stop the itching...externally! 

Boost Immune System

As mentioned above, yeast grows out of control on dogs that have an immune system that is lowered.  Simply by boosting the immune system you can equip your dog to battle a yeast infection internally.  

Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil is a fantastic supplement that has an abundant supply of pure, natural, Omega oils that have proven abilities in boosting the immune system in dogs.

16 Fl. Oz. $21.99

If you do nothing else, adding liquid Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil to your dog's food should result in a huge improvement.


Probiotics

Probiotics are probably the most vital supplement for a dog suffering from a yeast infection. Probiotics are friendly bacteria that live in the gut and provide a natural defense against bad bacteria and yeast.  All dogs (and humans) have a certain amount of yeast in their system, it only becomes a problem if the yeast starts to grow out of control and takes over.  Probiotics prevent this from happening by crowding the yeast out.  But not all probiotics are created equal and not all probiotics are suitable for canines.  

What To Look For in Probiotics....

  1. It's best to buy probiotics that have been specifically made for dogs (or pets), not humans.  
  2. Ensure the actual strain of probiotics is one that actually attacks yeast.  The best strains for attacking yeast are L. Acidophilus, B. Bifidum and L. Rhamnosus.  
  3. A good all round probiotic should contain at least 10 different strains of live probiotics.
  4. Look for one that contains pre-biotics as well as these are needed to feed the probiotics.  Inulin is a good pre-biotic to look for.
  5. Powder forms of probiotics are best for dogs.  Avoid probiotics that are baked into treats or food.   The high heat used in processing these foods, destroys the probiotics in pet foods and treats.
  6. A good delivery system is very important.  Read the label to ensure that there is some kind of delivery system that guarantees the probiotics can actually get through to the intestines where it will need to colonize and do its job.  Otherwise, it is likely to be destroyed by the stomach lining.

After my research I highly recommend (and use) 'Total-Biotics' as it meets all the criteria for an excellent probiotic.  See here for more information on Total-Biotics.

Total-Biotics small

2.22 oz $19.99
100 cups of pet food

Total-Biotics Large

8 oz $38.99
365 cups of pet food


Canine Digestive Enzymes

Most dogs will benefit from a supplement that contain digestive enzymes to aid in the proper balance of nutrients and enzymes in their body.  The process of cooking commercial dog food typically destroys the delicate digestive enzymes and nutrients required to keep your dog's skin healthy and the immune system strong. 

By providing a supplement rich in nutrients and enzymes you can restore your dog's skin and boost his immune system.  I recommend NWC's Total-Zymes Pet Digestive Enzymes.  It has 16 different enzymes that work as a high performance digestive enzyme improving your dog's absorption and utilization of nutrients.

Total-Zymes small
Total Zymes large

2.22 oz $17.99
100 cups of pet food

8 oz $36.99
365 cups of pet food


2) Treating the Area Locally

Anti-Yeast Baths With Anti-fungal Shampoos

Now the topical approach.  Bathing your dog regularly with a good quality anti-fungal shampoo will control the amount of yeast on your dog's skin and reduce the itching.

Even if your dog only has yeast on certain areas, such as the ears and paws, it's extremely important that you bathe the entire body to control a yeast infection in dogs. 

This means you need to use a shampoo that contains an anti-fungal agent.  Preferably one that is derived from natural ingredients as too many harsh chemicals will strip your dog's skin of it's natural oils.   And, given that you'll need to bathe frequently to keep the yeast at bay, you need a shampoo that's also kind to your dog's skin.  Following with a good quality conditioning rinse will also help to re-moisture the skin and coat.

Dog shampoo for yeast infection
I recommend using Nature's Specialties Quick Relief Neem Shampoo

It has antimicrobial, antifungal and antibacterial properties so works perfectly for yeast and other conditions that cause itching such as ringworm, hotspots, eczema and dermatitis.

16 FL. OZ $17.99



Frequency of Baths

How often is enough?  Well, that depends on your dog and how much scratching is going on.  For a really itchy dog I would start by giving her a bath two or three times a week for a month.  After that, scale back to once a week for a month, and then finally once a month.

For Ava as soon as I see her scratching her ears and chewing her paws I bathe her once a week for about a month and then once a month after that. This usually gets her through the summertime without constantly itching and scratching.  I also use an anti-itch spray in-between baths for those one-off butt scoots or the occasional paw chew I witness.  

Basically, the frequency of baths will depend of the severity of your dog's itching. If you start out with at least a weekly bath you can increase or decrease the frequency based on your own dog's symptoms.  I find that the best way to control the yeast, is to start out strong with more frequent baths and then go on a maintenance program of once a month.


Treating the Paws

For the paws, and between baths, you can use an anti-fungal spray to disinfect the paws daily.  Just ensure you get the liquid deep in-between the toes as that's where it gets really itchy!

The best one I've found is Wham Anti-Itch Spray.

It's an antimicrobial and anti-fungal medicated spray that immediately relieves itching.

It works great against yeast but also works well on other skin problems that cause itching such as hot spots, dry flaky skin, seborrhea (dandruff), flea and tick bites, or just for when your dog is itching and you don't know why. 

16 Fl. Oz. $19.99
 8  Fl. Oz. $11.99


Dog Yeast Allergy

If you have a dog, like mine, that is allergic to yeast then you might want to consider getting allergy shots to help your dog develop resistance to the yeast.  I say this as I know all to well how difficult yeast can be to eradicate entirely.

If you're wondering how you can tell the difference between a yeast infection in dogs and a yeast allergy, then I would say the biggest difference will be the smell.  A dog suffering from an overpopulation of yeast will likely have smelly ears and paws. A dog that is just allergic to yeast usually doesn't have enough of it to smell.  

If you're not sure then speak to your veterinarian about allergy testing or you can find a Veterinary Dermatologist here. 

Treating Dog's With Ear Yeast

Warning:  If your dog is tilting her head to one side and cries or whines when the ear is touched, then you must take her to the vets as the ear is probably infected.  Dog's will often hold the head down on the painful side. 

As the ears are very sensitive it is important that you handle a yeast infection in dogs ears a bit differently.  Don't use the sprays in the ears as these are too harsh for the ear canals.  

If your dog's ears are affected, she'll need specific anti-fungal ear-drops.  Personally I took Ava to her veterinarian to get an examination and a proper diagnosis when she first started with the symptoms.

EasOtic

Ava was prescribed EasOtic which works really fast.  That was a blessing for me as Ava's none too keen to have drops in her ears.....and what dog is? 

EasOtic only needs to be administered once a day for five days.  The good thing is it's fast, improvement is seen usually within one or two days.

But....it is only available via prescription, however, repeat prescriptions are usually given without requiring another appointment or further examination.  


A great OTC alternative is Zymox which you use once a day for 7 days or for chronic infections, treat once a day for 14 days.

Click on the image below to order your bottle of Zymox.

Although I think both of these work well I just want to mention that since Ava has been undergoing her allergy shots, I haven't had to use the ear ointments at all. She underwent allergy testing in 2016 and it is now one year later (2017) and her ears are finally clear. You can find out more about canine allergies here.

If you're still not sure that it's yeast your dog is suffering from
click here for more information on Dog Ear Care.


Yeast On Other Problem Areas

If your dog suffers from yeast on other areas of her body such as armpits, anal area, or skin-folds, then you can treat topically with the anti-fungal spray


Dietary Changes For Yeast Infections

If your dog has a severe yeast problem, I mean has yeast growing everywhere, then you may need to consider cutting out sugar and carbohydrates entirely from your dog's diet. 

Yeast feeds on sugar and a diet high in sugar will make a yeast problem worse. That includes carbohydrates as carbohydrates break down into sugar once in the system.

This is really difficult if your dog is on a dry kibble diet as most kibble foods are full of carbohydrates.  This includes grain-free diet as they typically replace grain with potatoes which are a carbohydrate.  The best way to avoid sugar and carbohydrates is to feed a raw or homemade diet.  

It's not just dog food that is high in carbohydrates, many store-bought dog treats are also loaded with sugar, carbohydrates and unnecessary fillers.  Pure Dog Treats is a great website that tells you what treats are best, which ones to avoid and, if you're so inclined, how to make them yourself!  

For Ava, and because she's allergic to yeast, I switched her to a raw food diet and only use treats I find on Pure Dog Treats

To Summarize

A yeast infection in dogs is very common in warm weather and often gets misdiagnosed as allergies.  If your dog is scratching her ears, chewing at her paws, and doing a lot of butt scooting, then she may have fallen prey to the dreaded yeasty beasties. 

You'll see this much more often in the spring and summertime as yeast grows rapidly when the weather gets hot and humid.

Bottom line, treating a yeast infection in dogs requires anti-fungal shampoos and sprays along with probiotcis and wild alaskan salmon oil. If you have a dog that suffers from chronic yeast infections, then dietary changes may need to be made.


Other Pages You Might Like.....

Dogs with allergies
Dogs with skin infections
Dogs with dandruff
Dogs with hot spots

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