Our Gainesville vets see a lot of dogs suffering from irritated, itchy, or flakey skin. In many cases, these uncomfortable symptoms are the result of yeast dermatitis in dogs, a condition caused by the abnormal overgrowth of yeast which is found normally on your pup's skin. Today we look at the signs, causes and treatments for yeast infections in dogs.
Yeast Infections Seen in Dogs
Dogs can develop yeast infections on their skin or in their ears when there is an abnormal overproduction of the yeast that is normally found on your pet's skin. Yeast is a natural spore-producing fungus on a dog's body that doesn't generally cause illness unless there is too much of it.
Yeast infections can also be called "Malassezia dermatitis, or Yeast Dermatitis" and it usually occurs in a dog's ears, between their paw pads, or in their skin folds. This condition can make the affected area of your dog's skin itchy, red, and irritated. Yeast infections in a dog's ear can also lead to deafness if the condition goes too long without treatment.
What does yeast dermatitis look like in dogs?
There are a handful of signs and symptoms that could indicate your dog has yeast dermatitis or a yeast ear infection including:
- Skin redness
- Appearance of darkly pigmented skin
- Flaky or scaly skin
- Sores on the skin
- Musty odor
- Change in skin texture (elephant skin)
- Hair loss
- Head tilting and shaking (ear yeast infection)
- Hearing loss (ear yeast infection)
Typically the first symptoms your dog will develop is an odor as well as redness and swelling of the infected area but can progress to other symptoms including warmth and pain. If you notice your dog displaying any symptoms of a yeast infection call your veterinarian to schedule an appointment for your pooch.
What causes yeast dog dermatitis or yeast ear infections?
Yeast and other bacteria and fungi occur naturally on your dog's skin, and under normal circumstances don't cause any issues. However, if something causes your pup's skin condition to change or their immune system to become less effective opportunistic yeast infections can result. Some common causes of yeast dermatitis and ear infections 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 best treatment for my dog's yeast infection?
If you believe your dog has yeast dermatitis or a yeast ear infection the first thing you should do is call your vet, the sooner their condition is addressed the faster your pooch will recover. Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose your pup's infection by culturing or with cytology, they might also take skin and hair samples from around the infected area for additional testing.
When your dog is diagnosed with a yeast infection your vet will prescribe an antifungal medication which may include an ointment to apply to the infected area or a medicated shampoo to relieve symptoms. If your dog's infection is more serious your vet may prescribe oral tables such as ketoconazole, fluconazole, or terbinafine.
If your dog has a yeast infection in its ear that caused deafness your pup might require total ear canal ablation surgery.
Can I use home remedies to prevent my dog from developing yeast dermatitis or yeast ear infections?
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.