The best way to deal with a yeast infection is to ensure your dog's immune system is functioning at full capacity by maintaining your pup's gut health.
Coming home to a dog chewing on his paws is enough to give you pause. After the paw chewing comes nibbling on raw skin, raised hair, red eyes, and a tired mind.
Your dog's skin is his biggest and most exposed organ to the outside world. As such, there are several ways his skin can become irritated to the point of causing him discomfort or pain.
There are many reasons why your dog's skin may become irritated, from seasonal or food allergies to yeast and other bacterial infections.
For optimal animal wellness, it is important to regularly examine your dog's skin. Catching a skin condition early can save your pup discomfort and pain and save yourself stress, time, and money.
How Do Dogs Get Yeast Infections
Yeast infections are an issue many humans deal with at some point in their life. Like bad breath, cancer, or an unhealthy gut, dogs are no exception to being able to contract a yeast infection.
Canines can be even more vulnerable than your average healthy human due to the scourge of unhealthy dog food and their penchant for eating any dirt-laden dustball clinging to the floor. Treating yeast infections in dogs can be a long and arduous process, and understanding why the fungal outbreak has presented itself is a major step in the right direction.
Common Causes of Dog Yeast Infections
Yeast is a common spore-producing fungus that lives on your dog's skin. Yeast growth in a dog's ears, skin folds, and mucocutaneous areas (the bridge of the nose, periocular (eye) region, genitals, or anus areas) is a completely natural phenomenon. In a healthy body, a yeast population will be kept to a low amount and will not interfere with biological processes. Yeast overgrowth in dogs can occur under less than ideal conditions, causing an infection to Fido's skin and other organs.
While there are many different yeast strains, the two that most frequently cause skin problems in dogs are Malessezia pachydermatis and Candida albicans.
Candida albicans in dogs is a naturally occurring microbe on the canine's skin and other parts of the body. When a canine's immune system becomes compromised, this fungus can infect the organ it is located on or near.
The other type of yeast infection is Malassezia pachydermatis. According to Ernest Ward, DVM of the VCA Animal Hospital, Malassezia pachydermatis can lead to yeast dermatitis, or Malassezia dermatitis.
When these two ever-present yeasts strike a weakened immune system, it is commonly known as a yeast infection.
Yeast infections are a major cause of canine skin infections and can present themselves in multiple ways. There are 3 different types that impact your dog's health:
- Superficial is the most common and causes inflammation of the skin, respiratory and GI tracts, and other tissue linings.
- Systemic is generally categorized by its invasive nature. This type of yeast infection can cause lesions of vital organs, such as the spleen, kidneys, heart, lungs, and even brain.
- A locally invasive strain can cause intestinal, respiratory, or GI ulcers in your dog.
Identifying A Yeast Infection
You may be wondering, "Does my dog have a yeast infection, or is he just sensitive to allergens?"
While the symptoms of canine fungal infection and canine allergies are very similar, there are differences. Yeast infection symptoms in dogs to closely monitor are:
- Brownish red coloring around the genitals.
- Red skin
- Dog itching skin
- Musty odor comparable to moldy bread or corn chips
- Rough and thickened skin
- Crusty or flaky skin
- Irritated skin
- Skin crusting
- Chronic head shaking
- Recurring ear infection
- Chewing on paws or licking the infected area
- Hair Loss
- Head tilt or continuous head shaking may be an ear yeast infection
Certain dog breeds, including Basset Hounds, Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, Dachshunds, Chihuahuas, and Sheepdogs, may be more susceptible to yeast infections.
What is The Typical Treatment Plan for Dog Yeast Infections?
Each dog is unique and will require an individual treatment plan from a licensed vet to diagnose and treat the yeast infection. Common oral medications include brands such as Ketoconazole, Terbinafine, Miconazole, Seborrhea, and Fluconazole, but your vet will likely want to take a swab of the affected area to determine the best course of treatment. Antifungal and medicated shampoos can also help relieve symptoms of skin yeast infections. If you think your pup has a yeast infection, be sure to schedule a visit to the vet.
Are There Home Remedies for Dog Yeast Infections?
If your pup suffers from recurring yeast infections, there is a growing amount of peer-reviewed research revealing how beneficial probiotics can be for preventing infections by treating the underlying cause - poor gut health.
With tissues such as the skin being a major area prone to canine yeast infections, probiotics are a fantastic source of good bacteria and supply nutritional support for a healthy coat.
While there is no probiotic miracle, human-grade probiotics for dogs aid in maintaining a healthy gastrointestinal tract and providing your dog's body with the proper amount of good bacteria. When a dog's gut is functioning properly, its immune function prevents bad bacteria and fungal growth from getting out of control.
If your dog has dealt with excessive shedding from the fungal outbreak, it is important to remember that probiotic powder for dogs helps achieve a soft, silky, shiny, and healthy coat.
Probiotics efficacy can be aided with the use of prebiotics.
Prebiotics are the vehicle for probiotics, both working together but having different health benefits.
Prebiotics are non-digestible fiber compounds (not bacteria) that nourish the
present good bacteria in the body and act as a carrier to the probiotics, enabling them to move through the upper part of the GI tract. Prebiotics, such as FOS (Fructooligosaccharides) and Inulin, keep the probiotics alive through the stomach and plant them in the upper and lower intestines.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has many applications and is used by many holistic animal specialists.
Dogs Naturally Magazine views apple cider vinegar as a natural antifungal. It has produced an apple cider vinegar-based body rinse for your dog meant to soothe itchy skin, restore a healthy skin pH, and calm welts and rashes. An excerpt of the recipe can be found below:
Mix the following ingredients together in an aroma-safe bottle/jar with a cap and shake well before use: Apple Cider Vinegar: 1/2 cup Brewed Green Tea (cooled): 1/2 cup Distilled Water: 1 cup. After bathing, apply this warm water/apple cider vinegar, rinse to your animal friend's coat/skin, and massage in. Rinse well and pat dry, or allow the apple cider vinegar mix to air dry for the added benefit of bug relief. This blended mixture can also be pre-made and kept in a glass jar in the refrigerator (for approximately one or two weeks – discard if moldy) and used for spot treatments for bug bites and stings.
Besides apple cider vinegar, antifungal dog shampoo for yeast can soothe the affected skin and aid in balancing the yeast count
Antibiotics and Yeast Infections / Gut Health Inhibitors
On the other side of the probiotic spectrum is the use of antibiotics in dogs. While antibiotics can treat severe bacterial infections, they often leave your dog's gut in disarray. A gut negatively affected by antibiotic use is ripe for yeast growth. Knowing how to prevent yeast infection while taking antibiotics can be challenging. Do your best to only use antibiotics when your veterinarian deems it absolutely necessary and replace the lost good bacteria with an NASC-approved daily probiotic.
Like antibiotics, certain toxins are sometimes used to ward off certain illnesses. These toxins, such as drugs, chemicals, or flea medicines, can inhibit the immune system's functionality and digestion. Think long and hard before subjecting your dog to these harmful chemicals.
Fighting Yeast Infections With A Healthy Diet
Like probiotics, yeasts are microorganisms that need certain conditions to live and reproduce. If your dog suffers from chronic yeast infections, it is worth looking into the diet that he is being fed.
Yeasts thrive in a sugar-rich environment. The more sugar in your dog's system, the faster the fungi's growth will be.
You can limit how much sugar is available for yeasts by controlling what is in your dog's diet. Much of the sugar your dog produces comes from the starch or carbohydrate he eats. The body will break down the starches in oats, rice, potatoes, corn, and barley into simple sugars.
Raw food diets align with the 'anti-yeast diet for dogs' philosophy. They have become a popular way to avoid certain unhealthy grains while ensuring that your dog's diet is more in line with what his ancestors ate in the wild. Adjusting his grain intake is a great way to limit the fuel the fungus has to survive.
Many foods with antifungal properties can be added as a topical or to your dog's food to help support a healthy amount of yeast. Many questions can spring from the urge to introduce various human health foods to dogs, including:
- Can dogs eat coconut oil?
- Can dogs have ginger?
- Are mushrooms safe for your dogs?
- Can dogs eat cat food?
There are many ways to put your pup in a better position to deal with a yeast infection. Chief among them is ensuring your dog's immune system is functioning at full capacity. With a canine's gut making up about 70% of his immune system, finding ways to maintain your dog's gut health is paramount. Probiotics and prebiotics are a great way to promote gut health and microflora balance.
If your dog has exhibited the telltale signs of a yeast infection, do what you can to bolster his gut and have him checked out by your local vet.