We 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, Aadobe Animal Hospital looks 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 are also referred to as "Malassezia dermatitis" or "Yeast Dermatitis" and typically affect a dog's ears, paw pads, or skin folds. This condition can cause your dog's skin to become itchy, red, and irritated. Yeast infections in a dog's ear can also result in deafness if left untreated for too long.
What does yeast dermatitis look like on a dog?
There are a handful of signs and symptoms that could indicate your dog has yeast dermatitis or a yeast ear infection including:
- Skin redness
- The 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, your dog's initial symptoms include an odor, redness, and swelling of the infected area; however, other symptoms, such as heat and pain, may develop later. Call your veterinarian to schedule an appointment for your dog if you observe any symptoms of a yeast infection in your pet.
What causes yeast dog dermatitis or yeast ear infections?
Yeast and other bacteria and fungi are naturally present on your dog's skin and normally do not cause any problems. However, if your dog's skin condition changes or their immune system becomes compromised, opportunistic yeast infections may develop. The following are frequent causes of yeast dermatitis and ear infections in dogs:
- 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 suspect that your dog has yeast dermatitis or a yeast ear infection, you should contact your veterinarian immediately; the sooner the condition is treated, the faster your dog will recover. By using culturing or cytology, your veterinarian will be able to diagnose your dog's infection. They may also take skin and hair samples from 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.