What Causes Your Dog to Develop a Yeast Infection?

Has your dog been acting strange recently? Maybe they are scratching excessively, shaking their head, or licking their paws compulsively. All these signs indicate your pup is dealing with some sort of discomfort.

Have you heard of yeast infection? It's a common issue in dogs, causing a variety of symptoms to appear. While it's not fatal in itself, it can lead to complications if not treated on time.

Let's see what causes yeast infection and what you can do to help your furry companion feel better.

What is a yeast infection in dogs?

A yeast infection is a skin disease that affects dogs and develops in certain areas. It's a spore-producing fungus that occurs naturally on the skin, present in small numbers. Most of the time, this infection attracts dog's ears, paws and skin folds, while overgrown yeast can make your furry companion feel uncomfortable.

Fortunately yeast infection is easy to spot,and you can treat this condition efficiently. Occasionally, yeast infection might be connected to bacterial infection or allergies, so it's best to visit your vet as soon as you notice the first symptoms. 

Prevent a yeast infection

The first symptoms of dog yeast infection

Yeast tends to develop in a moist environment, so for canines that can be in places like the groin, armpits, paws and ears. The most common  signs include:

  • Changes in skin texture and colour: In the early stages of yeast infection, skin tends to turn pink or in some cases red. When it comes to chronic skin infection, the skin will become thick, dark or grey.
  • Greasy skin: Pay attention to excessively oily or greasy skin.
  • Scaly skin: Some dogs may develop flakiness, crusting or scaling - a condition similar to dandruff.
  • Head shaking: If dogs develop a yeast infection in their ears, they’ll shake their head excessively. Pay attention if your pet starts exhibiting such behaviour suddenly.
  • Rubbing and scratching: Yeast infection is incredibly itchy and most dogs will try to scratch the infected area up against furniture, floor or another surface to find relief.
  • Licking: They will excessively lick the infected area to find relief.
  • Swelling: You may notice redness and swelling. These are some of the first signs of yeast infection. These symptoms can progress over time and become painful.
  • Odour: A distinctive smell is another symptom of yeast infection. Dog owners usually describe this scent as cheesy and musty.
  • Hair loss: If your pet has a yeast infection in the ears, they might experience hair loss around this area.
  • Drooling: Even though it's rare, yeast infection can happen in a dog's mouth, leading to drooling and eating problems.

What causes a yeast infection?

Many factors can contribute to yeast infection. We've listed a couple of the most common causes of this skin problem:

  • Allergens: When your pet is exposed to smoke, dust, mould, pollen or house cleaning products, it might develop a yeast infection.
  • Environment: Yeast infection can be seasonal and depends on the environment. It thrives in moist and humid areas.
  • Floppy skin: Considering yeast tends to grow between skin folds, it's most commonly found in canines with floppy ears. Keeping your pet's paws and ears clean is necessary.
  • Oil and wax: Oil can be found on the dog's skin and ears. If you aren't taking care of your dog properly or taking them to regular grooming sessions, they can develop yeast infections due to trapped oil.
  • Moist areas: As mentioned, paws, genitals, armpits and ears can be breeding grounds for yeast. If your dog likes to play in the water, it is also at risk of developing a yeast infection.
  • Other medical issues: A weak or overly active immune system can also trigger a yeast infection.

Is yeast infection in dogs' paws serious?

Dogs’ paws aren’t immune to yeast infection. They are always in contact with the ground and are exposed to more "damaging" elements. All the water, weeds and grass that touches your pet's paws can provoke an allergic reaction.

When this happens, your canine's skin barrier is weakened, which causes the yeast to grow out of control. Since yeast infection tends to be itchy, you will notice your dog licking their paws excessively, adding more moisture.

While it’s not a life-threatening condition, it should be treated on time. Your vet will perform a physical exam and check your pet's paws for any signs of irritation and redness.

Dogs paws

How to treat yeast infection in dogs?

There are several ways in which you can treat yeast infection in dogs, topical, oral or a combination of these two. It all depends on how serious your dog's condition is.

Topical treatment

This includes medicated shampoos, which are helpful for treating yeast dermatitis. Dogs with extremely greasy skin will need an initial "degreasing" cleansing with a regular shampoo, which either contains benzol peroxide or selenium sulphate.

After this initial cleaning, you will bathe your dog with an anti-fungal shampoo with active ingredients like ketoconazole, miconazole or chlorhexidine. In most cases, this shampoo needs to stay in contact with the skin for at least ten minutes.

When it comes to an ear infection or a light infection on the skin, your dog might get a topical ointment for daily use.

Oral treatment

In case of severe yeast dermatitis, your dog might get systemic or oral antifungal drugs. At this point their skin barrier is broken and most dogs with yeast infection will also have a bacterial skin infection. They will require antibiotics to treat the bacterial infection. Remember that antibiotics have potential side effects, so blood work is necessary every few weeks.

Strengthen your pet's immune system with probiotics for dogs

Your canine's microbiome is responsible for many vital functions including managing yeast infection. 85% of the immune system is located in your dog's gut so ensuring they have a healthy microbiome is crucial.

Adding probiotics to their daily routine can contribute to your pet's health. We are all aware of the therapeutic benefits of probiotics. Good bacteria will flood your dog's gut, completely inhibiting yeast's growth and helping to restore the gut microbiome.

If your canine has a yeast infection in the ears and skin, it probably has spread from the gut. This means that yeast infection has started in the gut and then has spread to the rest of the body. But you can start giving your pet the best probiotic Australia has to offer and help them restore balance to their microbiome.

How to treat yeast infection

How to prevent a yeast infection?

Unfortunately some dogs are prone to yeast infection, whether it's because of their breed or some underlying medical condition. When it comes to ear infections, good ear care is necessary so make sure this becomes your habit. Giving your pup regular ear washes will save you a lot of trouble.

You can always buy vet-approved over-the-counter products and ensure your pet has clean ears. Allergies can also cause a yeast infection so it's crucial to address the signs as soon as they appear. Work closely with your vet to manage your pet's allergies. They will help you decide what type of drugs or treatment to apply.

You could try some of the home remedies as they might help you suppress yeast infection but the best thing you can do for your pet is to figure out the cause. You will find that most blogs and online pages suggest using vinegar. While this acidic agent is used to stop your dog from licking and scratching, it won’t help with yeast infection. 

Some of the best ways you can prevent yeast infection include:

  • Drying your pet properly: Make sure your pup is completely dry after a bath.
  • Cleaning their ears frequently: This is the perfect place for bacterial and fungal growth. A simple cotton ball swab will do the trick and help you clean your pet's ears.
  • Focusing on diet: Include food like high protein meat, oregano and coconut oil to strengthen their immune system.
  • Brushing their hair: Brush your pet's fur frequently to remove dead skin and dirt.

Yeast infection is a common skin condition so there is no reason for concern as long as you treat it on time. We have given you a couple of ideas and we hope this helps your dog recover faster.