Yeast Infections in dogs: How to diagnose and treat them

Is Fred the Basset Hound scratching his ears uncontrollably, and does he smell really foul? He could have a yeast infection. Don’t panic just yet. Yeast infections are actually quite common in pets, but it is important to treat them because they can be extremely painful and uncomfortable for your pet, and can lead to further health complications. Fortunately, they are usually fairly easy to treat, as long as you do it properly.

What causes a yeast infection?

Yeast is a naturally-occurring fungus in the body. It keeps your body running smoothing, from your digestive to your immune system, and keeps things in balance. However, an infection can occur when things get out of whack, like when your immune system is compromised or if the environment is particularly conducive to growing yeast. In these cases, the yeast can become uncontrollable and can cause myriad problems, which will need to be treated. 

Yeast thrives in moist, and humid environments. Think in the ears, between paw pads, and among the folds of the skin. Which is why dogs with excessive skin folds (such as bulldogs) and long droopy ears (basset hounds) are particularly susceptible.

Antibiotics are also a prime culprit, because they kill the bacteria that keeps yeast in control. (Which is why humans have to take probiotics whenever we’re on antibiotics.)

Yeast infections are often a sign of other underlying health conditions, such as allergies or even cancer so be sure to do a thorough check-up at the vet when your pet presents with a yeast infection.

How do you know if your dog has a yeast infection?

Here are some signs to watch for:

  • Redness in the infected area
  • Scratching due to intense itchiness
  • Swelling
  • Discharge
  • Foul smell
  • Shaking of the head
  • Oily or greasy coat
  • Hair loss

How to get rid of a yeast infection

Treating the infection depends entirely on the cause, and if there are any other health conditions at play. So even though there are over-the-counter remedies for yeast infections, it is best to follow a treatment regimen recommended by your vet.

Different treatment methods include a combination or all of the following:

  • Re-evaluate your pet’s diet (yeast needs sugar as a source of energy so make sure his diet is sugar- and carbohydrate-free)
  • Disinfect the infected body parts by cleaning them thoroughly and regularly
  • Bathing with special disinfecting shampoos and dips can also help
  • A topical antifungal ointment or cream might be prescribed for infections of the body or outer ear
  • If the infection is internal, an oral anti-fungal tablet might be needed.

How to prevent yeast infections in dogs

In animals that are predisposed genetically, preventing yeast infections can be tricky, but you can always make sure you dry your pets thoroughly after swimming, keep them clean by regular grooming, and trim any excess fur.  

If you have any questions or concerns with regards to your pets, it is advisable to consult a registered veterinarian. This article is intended as an educational tool and should not be used to diagnose or treat a sick animal.

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