Some dogs are prone to developing yeast infections on their bodies. These infections may need special treatments from the veterinarian to help soothe the skin and kill the yeast but some remedies are also available to help manage yeast infections at home. Depending on the severity of the infection, these remedies may not be all your dog needs, but they can still be helpful in keeping them comfortable.
What is a Yeast Infection?
Yeast is a type of fungus and it grows and multiplies in warm, moist environments. There are many different types of yeast but, usually, only one type of yeast causes infections in dogs - Malassezia pachydermatis. This specific type of yeast can only be seen microscopically but it typically causes skin redness, itching, scaling, and even an odor that is obvious to most pet owners.
Yeast infections are not contagious from dog to dog but some dogs with immune system issues, oily skin, or allergies are more prone to developing an overgrowth of Malassezia. These dogs may therefore regularly battle yeast infections.
Where Do Dogs Develop Yeast Infections?
Dogs are most likely to develop either yeast dermatitis or yeast otitis but some dogs may even have both types of yeast infections at the same time. Dermatitis is an infection and inflammation of the skin and otitis is an infection and inflammation of the ears. Both kinds of yeast infections can cause discomfort and itching and owners usually notice the symptoms right away if they know what to look for.
Yeast otitis usually causes redness inside the ear, scaling of the ear flap or pinna, head shaking, scratching at the ear, face rubbing, and an odor.
Yeast dermatitis can occur anywhere on the skin of a dog but is most common in the armpits, feet, and any skin folds. Redness, scaling or skin flaking, itching, and odor are most commonly noticed on these parts of the body if they are harboring a yeast infection.
How is a Yeast Infection Diagnosed?
Your veterinarian will most commonly diagnose your dog with a yeast infection after collecting a sample on a cotton swab from your dog's ear or by pressing some tape or a microscope slide onto the affected skin. This sample will then be stained in the laboratory to highlight the yeast so that it can be identified under the microscope.
Yeast looks different from bacteria and requires different types of treatment. Because of this, it is important for your veterinarian to distinguish between the two types of infections. Some dogs may develop both bacterial and yeast infections at the same time.
How Can You Help a Dog With a Yeast Infection?
There are a few things you can do to help your dog if it has a yeast infection. Many of these remedies are often used alongside prescription therapies recommended by your veterinarian but some may help to battle a mild yeast infection all on their own.
- Apple cider vinegar - Vinegar changes the pH of your dog's skin so that the yeast cannot grow when it is applied topically. A solution of half apple cider vinegar and half water can be used to bathe your dog or wipe onto the infected areas.
- Beta-glucans - These polysaccharides are found in the cell walls of yeast, mushrooms, and cereal grains. If they are bioactive, they can help give your dog's immune system a little help. Since the immune system is partially responsible for inflammation, beta-glucans can help support dogs that are prone to developing yeast infections. Beta-glucans can be found in pet products like Imuquin® and Zenapet Dog Immune Support.
- Ear cleaners with drying agents - If your dog has yeast otitis, then an ear cleaner designed for dogs with a drying agent can help to keep your dog's ears yeast-free. This cleaner can be used after baths and when your dog goes swimming to help decrease the moisture in the ears.
- Avoid allergens - If your dog is sensitive to certain foods or things in the environment, avoiding them can help decrease the severity and likelihood of a yeast infection.
- Degreasing shampoos - Shampoos with degreasers and even simple dish soap can help strip the excessive oils from a dog's skin. These shampoos should not be used regularly unless instructed by a veterinarian but can help some dogs that are oily and prone to yeast infections.
Many other remedies are often touted as being safe options for treating yeast infections in dogs but little to no scientific evidence is available to support their use.
You should always consult with your vet when your dog displays symptoms of a yeast infection. You will need to make sure that it is appropriate to use any of the above-mentioned treatments on their own or alongside veterinary treatments.