Our Newtown Veterinary Specialists vets see their fair share of dogs with yeast dermatitis, which causes skin that is irritated, itchy, or flaky. Learn more from our Newtown vets about the signs, causes and treatments for yeast infections in dogs.
Yeast infections seen in dogs
Dogs can develop yeast infections on their skin or in their ears when there is an abnormal overproduction of the yeast that is normally found on your pet's skin. Yeast is a natural spore-producing fungus on a dog's body that doesn't generally cause illness unless there is too much of it.
Yeast infections can also be called malassezia dermatitis, or 'yeast dermatitis' and it usually occurs in a dog's ears, between their paw pads, or in their skin folds. This condition can make the affected area of your dog's skin itchy, red, and irritated. Yeast infections in a dog's ear can also lead to deafness if the condition goes too long without treatment.
What does yeast dermatitis look like in dogs?
There are a handful of signs and symptoms that could indicate your dog has yeast dermatitis or a yeast ear infection including:
- Skin redness
- Unusual dark pigmentation on your pet's 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 the first symptoms your dog will develop is odor along with redness and swelling of the infected area but can progress to other symptoms including warmth and pain. If you notice your dog displaying any symptoms of a yeast infection call your veterinarian to schedule an appointment for your pooch.
What causes yeast dog dermatitis or yeast ear infections?
Yeast along with other bacteria and fungi occur naturally on your dog's skin, which under normal circumstances don't cause any issues. However, if something causes your pup's skin condition to change or their immune system to become less effective opportunistic yeast infections can result. Some common causes of yeast dermatitis and ear infections in dogs include:
- An under- 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’s the difference between ear mites and yeast dermatitis in dogs?
Yeast infections in a dog’s ears generally cause redness, a brown discharge, head shaking or rubbing, odor, and itching.
Ear mite infections are extremely itchy and can cause many of the same symptoms. The discharge from the ear is usually dark and waxy or crusty. Ear mites are barely visible to the naked eye and are highly contagious to other animals.
Your veterinarian can easily distinguish whether a dog’s ear problem is caused by yeast or mites by taking a swab from their ear and observing it under a microscope.
What is the best treatment for my dog's yeast infection?
If you believe your dog has yeast dermatitis or a yeast ear infection the first thing you should do is call your vet, the sooner their condition is addressed the faster your pooch will recover. Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose your pup's infection by culturing or with cytology, they might also take skin and hair samples from around the infected area for additional testing.
When your vet diagnoses your dog with a yeast infection, they will prescribe an 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 more serious they may require vet-prescribed oral tables such as ketoconazole, fluconazole, or terbinafine.
If your dog has a yeast infection in their ear that causes deafness, your pup might require total ear canal ablation surgery.
Can I use home remedies to prevent yeast dermatitis in my dog?
Yeast infections should be attended to by a veterinarian to make sure there are no secondary infections or complications, but in the meanwhile there are a few ways you can help to prevent your dog from developing yeast infections such as:
- Ensuring that your dog is entirely dry after a bath or playing in water
- Cleaning your dog's ears of dirt regularly with a clean cloth or cotton ball
- Feeding your pooch a healthy diet full of protein and other nutrients
- Brushing your dog often as part of a regular pet-grooming 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.