Yeast Infections In Dogs – And What To Do About Them!
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Estimated Read Time: 4 minutes
Summary: In this blog we learn what a dog yeast infection is. We'll discuss and discover the symptoms, causes and potential treatments for dog yeast infections as well as preventative steps you can take to minimize their frequency.
Yeast overgrowth and subsequent infection is a common issue in dogs, and to be frank, it’s not the easiest of conditions to treat…
What Is A Dog Yeast Infection?
Yeast is a naturally occurring fungus that lives in your dog’s intestines, normally in small, balanced numbers. It’s normal and should be there! It helps your pooch digest their food.
Fungal yeast also exists on the body of a dog, and usually isn’t a problem until there’s an overgrowth of yeast… This will result in a yeast infection. When an infection takes hold it can be a significant problem for your pooch causing the cells lining your dog's gut to become inflamed and irritated and/or their skin to become very sore and painful.
A yeast infection can affect the urinary tract, mouth, and/or the skin, particularly in the armpits, paws, wherever skin folds or wrinkles, and ears which are the most common area of yeast build up.
When yeast starts to overgrow like this, it is usually because there’s been a disturbance of the microbiome (which controls good digestion in the gut and in turn directly contributes to a good immune system), so something has thrown their natural bacteria balance off.
PetLab Co. Pro Tip: Yeast growth is usually triggered by a shift in environmental pH levels or a temperature change - particularly heat. So, as the cooler months approach, and the heating is turned up, your pup is more likely to suffer from a yeast infection…
What Are The Dog Yeast Infection Symptoms?
The longer your dog’s yeast infection goes untreated, the harder it will be to treat and rectify. So, being familiar with the following signs is essential as a pet owner…
- Severe chewing, licking, or scratching at the suspected infected area
- Red/Inflamed skin
- Greasy coat
- Open sores or greasy, crusty/scaly skin
- Hair loss (alopecia)
- Behavioral changes (aggression, low mood)
- Bad odor from the suspected infected area
- A gray or rust-like coloring around their genitals or between their toes
- Black skin
- Seasonal allergies
- If they have a suspected yeast infection in their ear, they may shake their head frequently
How Do Dogs Get Yeast Infections?
There are so many factors that can contribute to the development of a yeast infection. Some of our four-legged friends are predisposed to them because of their breed. They include German Shepherds, West Highland White Terriers, Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, Basset Hounds, Chinese Shar-Peis, Poodles, and Shih-Tzus.
Other reasons your dog may develop a yeast infection include:
- They’ve recently taken antibiotics or corticosteroids
- They have diabetes
- They have an insufficient diet
- They have a weakened immune system
- They’re receiving chemotherapy
- They’ve recently used a medical catheter
- They have food allergies
- They are being over-bathed (more than twice a week) and/or with a sulfur-based shampoo
- They are not being bathed enough
- They have been bitten and/or are allergic to mites, ticks, parasites, or fleas
- They have been exposed to very hot and humid weather
- They are being fed sugary snacks
Whatever the cause of your dog’s yeast infection, it can be distressing and uncomfortable for them so as a responsible pet parent, you must get them sorted… Pronto!
What To Do If Your Dog Has A Yeast Infection?
The first thing you should do is get them seen by a vet, stat. Your vet will be able to confirm the diagnosis of a yeast infection and provide any necessary anti-fungal or anti-yeast medication and advice. They'll also assess for other dog skin infection causes.
What Else Could It Be?
Your vet will be able to assess what's upsetting your dog's skin properly and thoroughly. There are other dog skin infection causes that may present similarly to a yeast infection. Other dog skin infection causes your dog may be contending with include:
- Flea infestations
- They're having an allergic reaction
- They are experiencing dermatitis
- They're wounded
- They've broken the skin from scratching
- They're not being groomed efficiently enough
- They have an endocrine imbalance that's reduced their lymphocyte counts caused by a condition like Cushing’s disease or hypothyroidism
- They're genetically predisposed to skin issues (some dog breeds are more prone to developing infection, particularly those with skin folds like Chinese Shar-Peis)
Your vet will be able to tell you what's what, and it's always best to be sure and get the proper, appropriate advice and treatment.
How To Treat A Dog’s Yeast Infection At Home
Try A Vinegar Rinse
Help soothe Fido’s itchy, irritated skin with a vinegar rinse! It will not only calm the skin’s inflammation but also help reduce the likelihood of yeast infections reoccurring if used on a regular basis thereafter.
Simply pour out a gallon of water and mix with a cup of vinegar. After they’ve been bathed, this mixture will help slightly acidify their skin to help minimize further yeast growth. Pour it over your buddy from collar to tail, avoiding their head and eyes, and towel dry it in – without rinsing. Make sure to focus on their armpits, inner thighs, and tummy!
If your dog has recurring yeast infections, it sounds like their gut health may need a regular boost of good bacteria! You’ve heard of probiotics for humans, and they can benefit dogs just as they benefit us too!
Bad digestion and an imbalance of gut bacteria, as we know, can lead to a sluggish, unhappy, and unhealthy dog.
Poor gut health can have a negative effect on organ function, the immune system, energy levels, and lead to yeast infections – so ensuring the digestive system is in optimum condition can help you ensure they live a healthy, happy, and active life (without too much of a yeasty disturbance!)
So, try including a probiotic supplement into their daily routine. Healthy digestion will result in strengthened immunity, reduced likelihood of excess yeast growth, and a livelier, happier pup!
Assess Their Diet
Yeast thrives on sugar, so avoid cheap pet food and treats with high sugar content. That includes honey, corn syrup, corn, wheat, and potatoes. If your pup’s yeast levels are blooming, you simply don’t want to add fuel to the fire!
Keep them on a high protein diet to help diminish the excess yeast in their system. Discuss their long term diet options with your vet to reduce the risk of it happening again.
But, What About Dog Ear Yeast Infections?
A dog ear yeast infection is incredibly common, so we’ve actually put together an entire blog on what to do in the case of one. Read it here.
And, Dog Urinary Tract Yeast Infections?
Suspect a urinary tract infection in your pup and think it might be yeast related? Read our blog on Urinary Tract Infections In Dogs here.
If your pup’s yeast infection doesn’t seem to be getting better or worsening, contact your vet as a matter of urgency.