Signs Your Dog Has a Yeast Infection, How to Prevent, and Treat Yeast Infection in Dogs

Yeast infections occur when normally occurring yeast on your dog’s body grows to an unmanageable rate and begins to attack the afflicted area.

Two main types of yeast bacteria cause this, the Malassezia which tends to build up – on the skin, paws, and within the ear canal, and the Candida Albicans which tends to grow within the mucous membranes of your dog’s gut.

If you’re concerned that your dog may be suffering from a yeast infection, keep an eye out for some of these tell-tale signs!

If your dog has itchy, irritated skin and smells a little stinky, he could be suffering from a yeast infection. This condition can cause extreme discomfort for our canine companions and may be related to an underlying problem such as an allergy or a hormonal disorder.

All strains of yeast are funguses, and these organisms normally live on the bodies of dogs (and people) without causing illness. Problems arise when there is an overabundance of the fungus on a dog’s body, says Dr. Neil Marrinan of the Old Lyme Veterinary Hospital in Connecticut. “Overgrowth requires a trigger and loss of skin defenses,” he says.

Typically, dogs are bothered by the opportunistic pathogen Malassezia pachydermatis, says Dr. Klaus Loft, who practices dermatology at the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Angell Animal Medical Center. “We see yeast in various forms in and on dogs,” he says. “It resides normally on the skin and is implicated in skin, paw, and ear infections.”

So how do you know if your dog has a yeast infection? Here are 10 common signs watch out for.

SIGNS OF YEAST INFECTIONS IN DOGS

Itching
The most common and visible sign of a Malassezia yeast infection is when your dog scratches incessantly at the afflicted area.

With this strain of yeast, it’s most likely to cause disease of the skin, paws, or ears.

An odd scratch here and there isn’t anything to be concerned with, but a healthy, parasite and infection free dog shouldn’t scratch themselves more than the occasional time here and there.

If your pooch is scratching a lot – something is likely amiss, and it’s best to visit your veterinarian for a diagnosis.

Foisty Smell
Have you noticed a strange smell in your home recently?

Perhaps a sweet mouldy smell akin to gone off bread?

Well, I’d advise you to have a good sniff of your pooch!

This is one indisputable sign of a yeast infection, as that moldy smell that is quite bready is, surprise surprise – the yeast on your dog!

Lethargy
Have you noticed that your dog is spending more and more time in his bed and not acting like his usual chipper self?

When we’re not feeling well, we tend to stay in bed, or stay indoors much more often to let our bodies rest – and the same is true when your dog isn’t feeling top notch.

But don’t worry about your dog just having a lazy morning after a weekend of hiking, if they seem sleepy and you also notice that other symptoms are visible – then it’s time for a vet visit.

Change in Skin Color
A standard light pink hue of the skin indicates a healthy dog with proper blood flow, but if you notice that your dog’s skin is a bright pink or slightly red color – that points to irritation and inflammation.

If you have a short-haired breed, it will be easier for you to spot a change in your dog’s skin color.

And if your dog happens to be a very fluffy fella, just by keeping to a grooming schedule you’ll be able to keep a good eye on your dog’s skin health!

Flaky Skin
Dry and cracked skin is another indication of unhealthy skin and could come down to a few different causes – notably yeast infections, overbathing, and allergic reaction.

Head Shaking
If your dog isn’t scratching much, you might think you’re in the free and clear – but, keep an eye out for head shaking!

Yeast infections commonly affect the ear canal, especially in floppy-eared breeds such as the Cocker Spaniel.

Gently lift your dog’s ear, and look for irritation – if you notice that the skin is red, or inflamed, then it’s important to take him straight to the veterinarian.

Ear infections, when left untreated, can cause serious health problems and even cause hearing loss.

Licking and Biting
Some dogs prefer to use their mouths to relieve the irritation caused by a yeast infection; this often makes the infection far worse – as the dampness caused by licking and biting at an area; provide the ultimate habitat for the yeast to breed.

Depression
Is your dog feeling down?

Maybe he’s avoiding spending time with you, and hiding in his bed – or facing the wall when sitting down?

These are all strong signs that he’s suffering from depression.

Ordinarily, dogs are happy bundles of joy, and distress commonly occurs when they’re feeling especially poorly.

Do your little buddy a favor and take him to your local veterinarian clinic to run some tests, and get him on the path to happiness once again!

Hot Spots and Hair Loss
A yeast infection can cause cracked and oozing skin, but the worst part of the infection is the fact that it will make your dog severely itchy.

This causes him to scratch and bite at himself incessantly, both of which are likely to culminate in hot spots and hair loss which can not only be uncomfortable but extremely painful and leave your dog open to developing other, more severe infections.

Constipation or Diarrhea
Internal Candida Albicans yeast infections cause the immune system to virtually shut down, as 70% of the dog’s immune system is, in fact, the gut, this can cause a blockage or inability to process food matter correctly.

Not only will this be uncomfortable for your poor little pup, but the lack of nutrition that he’s receiving at this time will only weaken his bodies defense from the yeast infection even more.

Urinary Tract Infection
Highly prevalent in bitches, the Candida Albicans species of yeast can cause incredibly painful urinary tract infections, and if left without treatment – this can weaken the urinary tract and leave your bitch susceptible to recurrent UTIs.

Abnormal Discharge
Any abnormal discharge, especially from the ears or oozing from the skin can indicate a pretty well-established yeast infection, and you might want to try an anti-fungal shampoo at home to immediately relieve your dog’s discomfort.

Hypothyroidism
This type of infection can mimic the symptoms of hypothyroidism, with low energy, running colder than usual, and poor digestion.

If your dog has been diagnosed with hypothyroidism and you think that it may instead be a yeast infection, bring this up with your veterinarian; their end goal is to help your pet and will always listen to the owner as you’re the person that witnesses the dog’s health and behavior the most.

Stiffness and Joint Pain
Is your young and sprightly spaniel acting as though he has aged beyond his years?

Perhaps you’re noticing stiffness when he first gets up, or is he yelping out in pain when trying to stretch?

A sneaky little symptom as it doesn’t seem as though it could indicate a yeast infection, but as mentioned earlier; as this ailment affects the entire immune system – this can be yet another symptom for an overgrowth of yeast.

Bloating and Flatulence
An abundance of yeast in the gut isn’t can’t easily be digested by a canine, and it can cause bloating and gas.

When the level of yeast is incredibly high, for example, if your dog eats some bread making yeast – it can even cause the stomach to rupture.

Changes in color and texture
Signs of a yeast infection can vary depending on the site of the infection. “The biggest sign is alteration in the appearance of the skin,” Marrinan says. A pink or red color is commonly seen in the early stages of infection. With chronic infection, the skin can become leathery, thick, and gray or black. Remember that yeast infections can occur in a number of places on your dog’s body if conditions are right, he notes.

Greasy skin
Excessively oily or greasy skin is another common symptom of a yeast infection in dogs, according to Loft.

Scaly skin
Some dogs with yeast infections develop crusting, scaling, or flakiness of the skin that can look a little like dandruff, says Dr. Jennifer Coates, veterinary advisor for petMD.

Head shaking\
 “The ears are far and away the most common location for a yeast infection,” Marrinan says. In such cases, you likely will notice your dog trying to relieve his discomfort by repeatedly shaking or tilting his head.

Scratching and rubbing
Your dog also might be quite itchy from the yeast infection. You may see him scratching the affected spot, rubbing up against furniture or another surface, or scooting along the floor, Marrinan says.

Licking
Some dogs might attempt to relieve itchy discomfort by incessantly licking the infected area, the doctors note.

Swelling and warmth
While redness and itching are the first signs of a yeast infection, symptoms can easily progress to swelling, warmth, and pain in the infected area, according to Marrinan.

Odor
Odor also is a common sign of a yeast infection, regardless of location, Loft says. “Some people claim the yeast-infected skin and ears smell like Cheetos or have a sweet smell, but this is typically not a reliable ‘test,’ as we often find certain bacterial infections can have a similar odor,” he says. “It is important to remember this can be seen with other infectious organisms beyond yeast, so diagnostic testing at the veterinarian’s office is required.”

Hair loss
Hair loss can accompany the yeast infection and associated inflammation, Loft says.

Drooling
A yeast infection in a dog’s mouth is extremely rare but can cause abnormal drooling, oral discomfort, and problems eating. Excessive drooling can also be a sign of other problems in the mouth, such as an abscessed tooth or bee sting, Marrinan says, so pet parents should take their dog to the vet to determine the cause.

TREATING YEAST INFECTIONS IN DOGS

What To Do About It
When you suspect that your dog may be suffering from a yeast infection, it’s always best to seek veterinary treatment – but if this is a recurring infection, or you’re 100% confident in your assessment, there are things that you can do at home, including antifungal baths, and changing the diet.

The most important aspect of treating a yeast infection in dogs is identifying and addressing the underlying cause. This will make the risk of relapse less of a concern, Loft and Marrinan agree. For deep and generalized skin and paw/claw bed infections, veterinarians may prescribe oral antifungal medications such as ketoconazole, fluconazole, or terbinafine, Loft says. Ears can be treated topically with appropriate ear cleaners and medications, but severe ear infections may also require oral medications. Bathing the skin and fur with disinfecting and degreasing shampoos can also help, Marrinan adds. The best treatment regimen can be determined by a veterinarian familiar with the specifics of the dog’s case.

Anti-Yeast Dog Food? What Does a Yeast Managing Diet Look Like?
No yeast dog food, non gluten free food, cerales grains with interdiction symbol on the middle

We love to spoil our dogs with all kinds of sweet treats. By doing so, we may be unknowingly causing our dogs to develop a yeast infection.

Yeast can only thrive if there is sugar present as an energy source.

We never truly think about counting carbs when we feed our dogs, but carbohydrates break down into sugar when they are consumed. A carb-rich diet may be the root cause of your dog developing a yeast infection (though that is debatable).

Typically, when we think of sugar, we think of the processed white sugar that you can buy at your local grocery store.

These should be avoided, but you also need to be wary of natural sugars, such as the type that can be found in honey. We can’t overlook the fact that natural sugars can benefit your pets, but they’re best avoided if your dog is suffering from a yeast infection.

Read the labels of your favorite pet food brands the next that you go shopping. You’ll want to avoid these types of foods:

White potatoes
Sweet potatoes
Honey
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Sugar can be found in practically anything nowadays. Overall, it’s best to completely cut sugar from your dog’s diet.

You should also avoid feeding your dog these foods as well (foods heavy in carbs):

Wheat
Rice
Corn
Potatoes
The list of foods that contain carbohydrates is nearly endless, but the message should be clear.

Zero carbohydrates.

Zero sugar.
Your dog should be eating low-glycemic vegetables amongst other sugar-free foods. Your dog would also benefit from small amounts of oregano and garlic. These are anti-yeast/anti-fungal, perfect for a dog battling a yeast infection.

As you plan your dog’s new diet be careful of any food allergies that they may have.

Final Thoughts
Yeast infections may sound minor, but they are a big deal that can severely impact your dog’s immune response and ability to defend the body against illness, disease, or even recovery time from injuries.

The possible dangers of leaving a yeast infection untreated are severe, but luckily, the treatment time and cost are both incredibly low when caught early!

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