Yeast infections are fairly common in dogs and can cause a lot of discomfort for your furry friend if you don’t know how to address them. In this article, we’ll take a high-level view of what yeast infections are, what causes them, and how to address them. We will also take a look at the symptoms of yeast infections so that you can be on the lookout for them.
Nobody wants their dog to be uncomfortable, be in pain, or smell bad, so make sure to read this article and learn all about yeast infections in dogs!
What are yeast infections in dogs and what causes them?
Yeast infections are caused by various types of naturally occurring and otherwise harmless fungi that grow out of control. A fungus explosion like this can happen on your dog’s skin, in their mouth, and in the gastrointestinal tract. While that might (rightly) sound horrible to experience, there is a silver lining—yeast infections are not contagious. They’re generally a result of some sort of imbalance in your dog’s life—like hormonal imbalances, poor diet, or other underlying health conditions—never transmission from other animals.
Certain medications can also pave the way for a nasty yeast infection—or make an infection worse. For example, antibiotics can kill the good bacteria that normally keep fungus in check. This can allow the fungus to grow out of control and cause an infection.
Likewise, when the skin is irritated or inflamed, it can provide the perfect environment for yeast to grow and spread more easily. Because of this, anything that causes skin irritation or excessive scratching like allergies, food intolerances, hormonal imbalances, diabetes, and many other illnesses, can all contribute to yeast infections in dogs.
These underlying causes are made worse in warm and moist environments where fungus thrives.
Symptoms of yeast infections in dogs?
There are a few different symptoms that you may notice if your dog has a yeast infection. The most common itchy and inflamed skin. They could also have greasy build-up in their coat, recurring ear infections, incessant chewing on their paws, hot spots or sores that are inflamed or slow to heal, and hair loss. In addition, you may notice that your dog has a bad odor—a dog with a yeast infection will often have paws that smell like corn chips or maple syrup on pancakes, for example. This is because the infection can cause your dog's skin to become oily and produce a yeasty smell.
If you notice any of these symptoms, there's a possibility that your dog has a yeast infection and you should take steps helping your pup feel better as soon as possible.
How to handle yeast infections in dogs?
Addressing the topical aspect of yeast infections is pretty straightforward—usually treated with anti-fungal treatments. These can be creams, shampoos, ear washes, or oral medications. Your vet will likely prescribe a medicated shampoo that you will need to use on your dog's skin. Or you can try an over-the-counter solution like an anti-fungal spray.
Internal yeast infections are a little more complicated. These infections are systemic, cause the most severe symptoms, and require an inside-out approach to address.1. Diet change
To eliminate food intolerances as an amplifying force for the infection, and improve your dog’s overall nutrition, it’s a good idea to start with a change in their diet. A low-carb, limited ingredient diet may be useful to help eliminate suspect ingredients. However, unless your vet identifies other health conditions that require your dog to stay on a limited ingredient diet long-term, this shouldn’t be a permanent solution for your dog. Instead, a rotational diet is ideal once any food-related triggers for the yeast infection have been identified.2. Supplementing
Adding a probiotic supplement, omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil like our Salmon Oil are perfect for this), and B Vitamins such as NaturVet Brewer's Yeast are the perfect supplement mix for easing discomfort, reducing inflammation, balancing the gut biome, reducing yeast overgrowth, and providing the needed building blocks to repair damaged tissues.3. Topical relief
Shampoos for itch relief or skin repair work wonders to provide instant (if temporary) relief. Greasy, yeasty build-up on the skin can be cleared away with an enzymatic or probiotic shampoo. Itchy skin can be further soothed with anti-itch sprays or very diluted vinegar rinses. Treat hot spots and inflamed areas with antimicrobial/anti-fungal creams or sprays like our Wound Care Spray, and treat infected ears with Zymox Otic Solution.
In addition, it’s a good idea to get your vet’s opinion. There’s always the risk that the infection is more severe than you know, and your vet may need to prescribe oral anti-fungal medication for several weeks. In instances like this, it's important to follow your vet's instructions and not stop the medication early, as this can leave space for the infection to return.
Prevention tips for yeast infections in dogs?
Avoiding yeast infections altogether might not be possible. However, the best way to limit them is to maintain a healthy and clean lifestyle for your dog inside and out.
You can do this by paying attention to what you are feeding them. A high-carb diet will get converted to sugar during digestion, and yeast infections thrive on these types of food. Instead, feeding high-quality proteins and including a variety of flavors (meats) and types of foods (raw, kibble, canned, etc.) can help to keep your dog’s gut biome healthy and infection-free. In addition, keeping your dog cool and dry during warmer weather will help prevent topical infections.
While yeast infections are common in dogs, with the proper treatment and some smart diet choices, they can be cleared up quickly and your dog can feel comfortable again. Be sure to watch for the symptoms of yeast infections so you can catch them early and get your dog the help they need.