Dog Yeast Infections

Standard Schnauzer puppy scratches itself behind the ear

If you've noticed your normally cheerful pup obsessively scratching one part of their body or immediately continuing to scratch themselves after being stopped, it might be an indication of a dog yeast infection. This unpleasant skin condition is fairly common in dogs, but fortunately, it's not that difficult to get under control. Read on for an overview of dog yeast infection symptoms and treatments.

What Is a Dog Yeast Infection?

Normally, yeast is a harmless fungus that can be found in the stomach and on the skin of healthy dogs. At regular levels, the presence of yeast is nothing to worry about.

Sometimes, though, environmental triggers can cause an overpopulation of the fungus in the dog. Dog yeast infections can be triggered by hot and muggy weather, bacterial infections and already-existing skin diseases. Being on certain kinds of medications, such as corticosteroids and antibiotics, can make it more likely that a dog will develop a yeast infection.

Certain dog breeds, particularly those that tend to have a lot of skin folds, are also more likely to develop dog yeast infections than others. Basset hounds, cocker spaniels and golden retrievers are all part of that unlucky group.

Signs of Healthy Skin

When determining whether your dog might be suffering from a yeast infection, it's helpful to know what healthy dog skin is supposed to look like.

Normally, a dog's skin is black or pink. Both colours are entirely normal; the exact pigmentation depends on the dog's breed and individual genetics. Healthy skin has no scaling, crusting or black and white spots. It's also free of inflamed areas.

Healthy dogs shed more hair than usual in the summer and fall seasons, but the coat of fur should always be clean and thick. You shouldn't be able to notice any bald patches. 

Dog Yeast Infection Symptoms 

If your dog is suffering from a yeast infection, you'll likely see one or more of the following effects. 

Hair Loss

Scratching, licking, biting and chewing at the affected area are some of the only ways your dog has of getting relief from their itchy discomfort. They might also drag their bodies against walls or floors. If they do so for an extended period of time, they'll likely wear away the fur and possibly damage the skin around the area of infection.

Head Shaking 

Sometimes, the yeast infection occurs in an area the dog can't reach. A yeast infection in a dog’s ears can be very unpleasant for them. Constant, repetitive head shaking may indicate that your dog is trying to relieve a nagging itch inside their ear

Discoloured Skin

Swollen pink and red areas on your dog's skin are a potential sign of yeast infection. Infected skin may also be noticeably warm to the touch. Yeast infections that have gone untreated for a while may cause an overall darkening of the skin.

Unpleasant Odour

Yeast infections have a distinctly unpleasant scent to them. You might not notice it early on in the infection, but if it's allowed to progress for some time, your dog will likely carry a musty odour.

Dog Yeast Infection Treatments

Individually, each of these symptoms might be indicative of a yeast infection. If you notice all of these symptoms happening simultaneously, your dog is likely dealing with a yeast infection that needs treatment.

Even if you're confident you've correctly diagnosed the problem, consult professional help before proceeding to the treatment stage. Some conditions, such as alopecia, can cause symptoms that are nearly indistinguishable from those of a yeast infection. 

Your vet can easily confirm whether your dog is suffering from a yeast infection. Common techniques include non-invasive skin smears or hair plucks. The material is then checked under a microscope, which helps the vet determine whether the fungus involved in the discomfort is yeast. 

Topical Treatments

Usually, the easiest and quickest way to battle a dog yeast infection of the skin is by using an anti-fungal shampoo. These shampoos incorporate chemicals that can start reducing yeast levels to normal in a week or so. A yeast infection in a dog’s ears can be treated with similarly formulated ear drops. When dealing with yeast infections that have been progressing for a while, you might need to apply the treatment multiple times a day. 

Oral Treatments 

Sometimes, a yeast infection has progressed too far to be effectively treated with a topical approach alone. In other cases, a dog might have a different condition that makes the topical approach unsuitable. In these situations, vets will likely prescribe an oral treatment. Swelling caused by yeast infections can also be treated with anti-inflammatory medication.

Related articles

Two dog owners smile and cuddle with a dog on a couch
Discover the benefits of probiotics for dogs. Learn how they work, their benefits, and when to give them. Find out how probiotics can help your dog stay healthy and happy.
woman holding a cat
Cat owner gently rubs cat’s back while cat lays contently