Our Yucaipa veterinarians see a lot of dogs with irritated, itchy, or flaky skin. In many cases, these unpleasant symptoms are caused by yeast dermatitis in dogs, a condition caused by an abnormal overgrowth of yeast that is normally found on your pup's skin. We'll look at the symptoms, causes, and treatments for yeast infections in dogs today.
Yeast Infections Seen in Dogs
When there is an abnormal overproduction of the yeast that is normally found on your pet's skin, dogs can develop yeast infections on their skin or in their ears. Yeast is a naturally occurring spore-producing fungus on a dog's body that does not usually cause illness unless there is an abundance of it.
Yeast infections are also known as "Malassezia dermatitis" or "Yeast Dermatitis," and they typically occur in a dog's ears, between their paw pads, or in their 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 cause 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 will develop an odor as well as redness and swelling of the infected area, but this can progress to other symptoms such as warmth and pain. If you notice your dog exhibiting any of the symptoms of a yeast infection, contact your veterinarian to schedule an appointment.
What causes yeast dog dermatitis or yeast ear infections?
Yeast and other bacteria and fungi are naturally present on your dog's skin and do not cause any problems under normal conditions. However, opportunistic yeast infections can occur if something causes your dog's skin condition to change or their immune system to become less effective. Yeast dermatitis and ear infections in dogs are caused by a variety of factors, including:
- 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 your dog has yeast dermatitis or a yeast ear infection, the first thing you should do is contact your veterinarian; the sooner their condition is treated, the faster your dog will recover. Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose your pup's infection through culturing or cytology, and they may also take skin and hair samples from the infected area for further testing.
If your dog has a yeast infection, your veterinarian will prescribe 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 severe, your veterinarian may prescribe oral medications 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 treated by a veterinarian to ensure there are no secondary infections or complications, there are a few things you can do to help prevent yeast infections in your dog, 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.