How to Treat Your Dog’s Yeast Infection at Home
It is likely you or someone you know has suffered from the discomfort of a yeast infection at least once in their life.
But did you know, along with other seemingly human-exclusive ailments like fevers, pups can also contract this itchy infection! If your pup seems a bit irritated, has itchy skin, and smells like a moldy cheese puff, your dog may have a yeast infection.
- What Is Yeast, Exactly?
- What Causes a Yeast Infection in Dogs?
- How to Know If Your Dog Has a Yeast Infection
- Home Remedies
- How to Prevent Yeast Infections
- When Should You Be Concerned?
- In the End
What Is Yeast, Exactly?
Every pup’s skin, and even your own skin, is home to a large microbiome. A microbiome can be most simply described as an exceptionally sophisticated system of microorganisms that are highly dynamic in nature. While this may sound a bit scary, this micro-ecosystem of single-celled organisms is essential for keeping you and your pup healthy, joining forces with the immune system to fight off any potential skin disease or other issues.
Yeasts are a type of fungus and are just one of the many members of this microorganism community. There are approximately 1,500 different species of yeasts, all of which can be found in numerous places other than on the skin. The species that is responsible for causing yeast infections on your pup is called “Malassezia pachydermatis”.
This fungus is just one of the many members of your dog’s skin microbiome and is always present at a certain level. However, when the level of the fungus Malassezia pachydermatis becomes elevated, the imbalance can cause your pup’s skin health to go awry.
What Causes a Yeast Infection in Dogs?
The good news is yeast infections in dogs are a common occurrence and in most cases is no cause for concern. Often referred to as fungal dermatitis, yeast dermatitis, or Malassezia dermatitis, yeast infections are caused by the overgrowth of Malassezia pachydermatis.
This is especially prone to happen in the moist areas of the body, such as your dog’s ears. However, a yeast infection can really pop up anywhere, even between your pooch’s toes or in their armpits. This overpopulation can be caused by several different issues, such as:
- Excess oils on the skin
- Allergies resulting in changes in skin balance
- Immune deficiency
- Trapped foreign object
- Tumor or other growth
An overproduction of oil is a common cause of yeast infections in dogs. Sometimes, a dog’s oily skin is caused by the disorder seborrhea oleosa, a skin condition that causes the sebaceous glands to make too much sebum. The presence of too much sebum contributes to the oily nature of the skin. This disorder can be the result of hormonal issues, excess fat, dietary issues, allergies, and parasites, among many other possible causes.
Allergies are common in dogs and can also result in skin issues like seborrhea oleosa, which in turn, can cause yeast overgrowth. Pups with allergies can also experience other types of skin problems, such as rashes, which contribute to the balance or imbalance of the skin microbiome.
Pups that are immunocompromised, whether it be because of an immune disease or immunocompromising drugs, have a higher chance of developing yeast infections. This is because the immunesystem cannot fight off the yeast overproduction, which can result in chronic yeast infections.
How to Know If Your Dog Has a Yeast Infection
You should know certain breeds are more susceptible to yeast infections. This is usually due to a pup’s physical composition, such as those that tend to have skin folds or floppy ears. Breeds prone to yeast infections include:
- American Cocker Spaniel
- Australian Silky Terrier
- Basset Hound
- English Setter
- Labrador Retriever
- Lhasa Apso
- Maltese Terrier
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Shih Tzu
- West Highland White Terrier
Though, it is important to know any dog can develop yeast dermatitis. Additionally, yeast infections are not contagious, so do not be worried that your pup will give you or other pets the infection. There are multiple symptoms to look for when you suspect your pup may have a yeast infection. Primarily, observing your dog’s behavior can be the first step in figuring out what is wrong with your dog.
For example, when the infection is located in the inner or outer ear, you may notice your pup rubbing, scratching, or tilting their head often. If the infection is between your dog’s paws, they will likely draw attention to this area. Discolor on the hair between their toes may also occur. In addition to this, your dog can exhibit the following symptoms in any areas of its body:
- Skin irritation, such as itching or swelling
- Skin discharge that is sticky or discolored
- Hair loss
- Rough, crusty, or flaky skin
- Ear infections or other ear problems
- Foul smell
- Greasy hair
If your dog has the symptoms of a yeast infection, talking to your veterinarian to get the condition properly diagnosed is advised. Sometimes, a mite infestation can mimic many of the symptoms of a yeast infection. Your vet will likely perform any number of different tests to confirm the presence of yeast dermatitis so you can safely proceed with the correct treatment.
While you should always consult your veterinarian with any concerns you may have about your pup and rule out the need for prescription medication, yeast infections can easily be treated through numerous at-home remedies. Of course, when trying any of these remedies, be vigilant of your pup’s allergies and sensitivities.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Vinegar has been proven to be an effective treatment for yeast dermatitis as it strips the skin of excess oils. Like the apple cider vinegar, your pup’s skin is naturally a bit acidic, making it a great option when looking to improve the balance of their skin. Furthermore, vinegar is antibacterial, meaning it is good for cleansing the skin and managing bacterial infections. This cleanse is exactly what your pup with a yeast infection may need.
You will need to dilute the solution since it’s quite harsh and be sure to avoid any open wounds or scratches caused by itchiness. Using a cloth or cotton round is great for precision in small areas. It is not necessary that you use apple cider vinegar specifically, any vinegar will work as they are all acidic. However, apple cider vinegar is known to be a bit less harsh.
If your pup is suffering from a yeast infection, giving them a good wash may be vital to getting your pup back to normal. Oftentimes, it is the extra buildup and production of oils that cause your dog’s yeast dermatitis, so ridding their skin of all this sebum and dirt is imperative.
Luckily, a degreasing shampoo or a medicated shampoo is a great over-the-counter option you can easily do at home and there are many to choose from. Be sure that after washing, you dry your pup really well. Yeast likes water, so you may even need to apply the diluted apple cider vinegar solution after the bath to act as a drying agent.
It may seem odd to apply oil to your pup’s skin when it is likely a build-up of oils that has caused your pup’s fungal infection. However, an oil may be essential after all the stripping done by the degreasing shampoo or vinegar treatments.
Furthermore, coconut oil contains essential antioxidants and protects your pup’s skin from any damage that may have been done by the yeast infection. Oils should be applied only to the affected area or areas to avoid further infection. This should be done about once a week while continuing to monitor the affected areas.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is another great product to apply after all the stripping is done. Tea tree oil is especially useful if the affected areas seem very irritated and swollen. The properties of this essential oil will provide your pup with some calming topical relief. Furthermore, tea tree oil is known to fight off germs, making it ideal for combating and preventing infection. You can also mix a few drops into a coconut oil mixture if desired.
However, like with any product, irritation and other side effects can occur, especially when used in excess. It is best to create a diluted mixture and monitor your pup for any signs of an allergic reaction. Also, be aware some essential oils are toxic to dogs, so consult your vet before applying anything potentially harmful to your pup.
Although it may sound odd, giving your pup yogurt may help them naturally fight off a yeast infection. This is because some yogurts contain probiotics that help promote the growth of beneficial bacteria and will likely rebalance your pup’s microbiome.
Probiotics are the key component, so be sure to check that the yogurt you use contains them. However, avoid yogurts with added sugars since yeast feeds on sugars, likely leading to a worsening in the infection. Usually, a good plain Greek yogurt is best. Many people simply add a few tablespoons to their pup’s dog food.
If your pup’s yeast infection is within or around the ear canal, a condition called “yeast otitis”, then a cotton round and ear cleaning solution may do the trick. Be sure to find a cleaner that dries to prevent worsening the ear yeast infection and always be careful when using objects in or around your pup’s ears.
Avoid using objects such as cotton swabs since these can easily cause damage to a pup’s ears, especially if they move around a lot during application. It is advisable to consult your veterinarian on how to properly handle this type of application.
Fish oil is a highly beneficial supplement known to treat and reduce many health issues. Fish oil can be effective for pups with yeast infections due to the content of omega-3 fatty acids. There are plenty of fish oil supplement options available made especially for your pup.
Witch hazel is a product made of the witch hazel plant and has a plethora of skin benefits. Witch hazel may prevent the build-up of harmful bacterias on your pup’s skin. This is a holistic home remedy rich in antioxidants and may relieve your dog from a yeast infection. However, the effectiveness of witch hazel on yeast infections is not totally proven.
Hydrogen peroxide may be a good solution to combating a pup’s yeast infection. Hydrogen peroxide is a cleaning agent known to kill certain bacterias, fungi, and even viruses. However, it can leave behind a good bit of moisture, which can, in turn, promote yeast reproduction. This makes hydrogen peroxide a possible solution, but not always the most advisable.
When used, this product should be diluted. Sometimes a combination of these at-home treatments will work best, though only some or none of these remedies may yield results. Remember to always consult your vet before attempting anything potentially harmful for your pup.
How to Prevent Yeast Infections
While yeast infections are common and easily treated, they are not ideal. Preventing yeast dermatitis can be as simple as being observant, noticing when your pup’s skin is becoming overly greasy or irritated, and treating it right away. Try to keep your pup dry by drying them off after baths and swims, especially in their ears, paws, and skin folds.
The proper diet will do wonders for your pup’s health as a whole, so it is important to find the right food for your pup. Since yeast’s favorite snack is sugar, try to keep your pup away from foods high in grains and sugars. Avoiding bagged dog food altogether may be the best option since these tend to be high in unnecessary sugars and grains.
For yeast infections, it is suggested that a dog’s diet be low in carbohydrates (sugars), higher in proteins, and have moderate. Refrain from feeding your pup bits of your snacks, such as applesauce, which is high in sugar. Be sure to check your pup’s own snacks and treats, as they can be riddled with carbs as well.
Yeast attaches to heavy metals in an attempt to keep them from entering your pup’s body. This is a great process, however, pups with a diet full of heavy metals may overproduce yeast as a result. Furthermore, these metals stop the good bacteria from growing, meaning there is nothing to balance out the yeast production.
This will likely result in a yeast infection. Heavy metals can be avoided by feeding your pup organic foods and avoiding fish unless it is of higher quality. This may also mean giving them filtered water. If your dog is constantly experiencing skin imbalances, it may be worth it to add probiotics to your pup’s diet to promote the growth of good bacteria.
Furthermore, you may be able to see some results from foods targeted to fight yeast infections. Perhaps most important of all is to be aware of your pup’s overall health. Diagnosing and treating the underlying health conditions that may contribute to your dog’s yeast infections is extremely important.
When Should You Be Concerned?
Although yeast infections are not incredibly worrisome, there does come a point when you should feel some urgency. If your pup experiences recurring or severe cases of yeast dermatitis, there may be a need for prescription medications such as an anti-fungal treatment.
Furthermore, there may be an underlying cause to your pup’s consistent and severe yeast infections, which must be treated in order to properly relieve your pup. If you believe your dog may have a yeast infection in their eye or nose, it is advisable to seek medical attention since this can lead to the development of more health conditions, such as blindness.
In the End
If your pup seems to be overly itchy or even a bit smelly, it is possible they have a yeast infection somewhere. While yeast infections are less than ideal for our pets and usually very uncomfortable for them to endure, there are a number of at-home solutions for you to try. Most of these remedies are natural and holistic, making them a preferred choice. However, there may be times in which medical attention is necessary.
Your pup’s diet may be the primary step in treating yeast infections. A diet high in sugar is what causes yeast infections in humans, so it is no surprise this can also be the case in our pups. It may be as simple as switching them to a great high-protein, grain-free dog food, or as complicated as becoming their personal chef, cooking them every meal at home. But we would do anything for our special companions, especially when it comes to their health!