Downeast Dog News

Yeast Infections

Dec 10, 2020

Q. My dog was diagnosed with a yeast infection in his skin. I don’t feed him any yeast, so why does he have it?

A. Yeast infections are really common problems with our companions and ourselves. They can show up as ear, skin, feet, and gastrointestinal infections. Yeast naturally occurs in our environment, on skin, and inside the gut. The problem happens when there is too much yeast. So how and why does this happen?

The yeast on the skin is Malassezia pachydermatiatis. You probably have heard your veterinarian say Fido has a yeast infection in his ears. This is the yeast being talked about. This yeast is on the skin, which is normal. Candida albicans is found in the mouth and gut.

When your companion is healthy and has a strong immune system, yeast is not a problem. It is the challenged dog who runs into problems. Most of the time there is an underlying problem that gives the yeast the opportunity to flourish. Allergies are the number one cause, but other issues like infections and inflammation can create an environment ripe for a yeast infection. Dogs with conformational challenges, such as skin folds around their faces and tails often have yeast infections. Overweight dogs, unkept coats, poor diet, over vaccinating, medications, pesticides, and environmental chemicals can be underlying causes too.

Symptoms of a yeast infection are itchy skin, ears, and feet, greasy and flakey coat, a rusty color to the fur, shaking the head, discoloration of the skin, and fur loss. Often there is a musty odor, sometimes smelling like corn chips. In some cases, the dog can have inflamed gums and intestinal upset.

There is a condition called leaky gut. The cells lining the intestines are usually tightly aligned. When yeast overgrows, it irritates the cells, and they become inflamed causing gaps between the cells. These gaps allow big proteins, bacteria, and yeast to get into the blood stream. From there, these particles can cause havoc in the rest of the body. This is how allergies develop along with other medical problems in the body.

Normally, when yeast infections are caught early, they can be easily treated. If left unchecked, it will take longer to treat. When a yeast infection is suspected, your veterinarian will have shampoos and topical treatments to help your buddy.

You can be proactive by improving your dog’s defenses. First is diet. Most commercial dog foods are high in carbohydrates that change into sugars. Sugar is the food for yeast. When you look at a bag of kibble, you will see the percent of protein, fat, and moisture. They do not add up to 100%. The missing percentage is the carbohydrate amount. If your dog is suffering from allergies and other medical issues, seek professional advice on how to improve your dog’s diet and decrease the percentage of carbohydrates.

Other things you can do is decrease as much as possible exposure to chemicals topically, environmentally, and internally. Watch out for heavy metals in foods, such as oily fish, and treats. If your pup is on medication, ask your veterinarian if you can add prebiotics and probiotics. The yeast, Saccharomyces Boulardii, is good to protect the gut from Candida. It will reduce the inflammation and problems caused by the Candida and keep it from entering the blood stream. I use it whenever I prescribe antibiotics.

To help relieve symptoms and kill off yeast topically, use apple cider vinegar as a rinse on the skin. Use in small areas a mixture of coconut oil and lavender oil to hot spots and feet. A mild rinse of green tea for the ears will help reduce the discomfort.

Remember if you suspect a yeast infection, consult your veterinarian because there may be a deeper problem that needs to be addressed.



Judith K. Herman DVM, CVH

Animal Wellness Center

Augusta, ME