Yeast infections in dogs are quite common, especially if your dog is a breed with lots of wrinkles like a pug, bulldog, or shar-pei. Having wrinkly skin isn’t the only factor when it comes to yeast infections, because studies have shown that certain breeds seem to be more susceptible to yeast infections than others. If either you or your dog comes into contact with specific species of yeast it can cause an infection. The odds of coming across one of these pathogenic species of yeast are more common than one might think.
What is yeast and how can it cause an infection?
Yeast is a microscopic organism that can be found all over the world. We use yeast to make products like bread or beer, but there are many species of yeast that can cause medical problems. Our bodies have an undefined number of organisms living on them at any given point in time, and so do our dogs. Yeast is one of the organisms that live amongst others on the surface of our skin.
Sometimes there are circumstances that cause the power of the different organisms to shift and the population of other organisms to explode. If the staph bacteria experience a population boom, the creature it lives on can get a staph infection, but if the population boon goes to a yeasty organism you get a yeast infection. There are many factors that lead to a yeast infection, although some pet owners suspect that cheaper brands of dog food can cause it. Although there is something to be said for proper diet and exercise, at the end of the day yeast infections, are slightly unpredictable.
How do I spot a yeast infection on my dog?
As dog owners, it is important to be on top of dog maintenance at all times. You should be able to put your hands on any part of your dog for inspection frequently and make a habit of checking various parts of their bodies for things such as infection, mites, ticks, or fleas. Use the best flea shampoos for dogs if you need to. Make sure you know how to trim dog nails and not let them overgrow. Regularly use of a pair of clippers or a dog nail grinder to keep their claws neat and tidy. While you’ve got a hold of your dog’s paws, which is a very sensitive area of their body, check between the toes and between the pads for any signs of discoloration.
The signs of an infection can be the same all over the body. Any skin that looks red, warm to the touch, or inflamed could be a yeast infection. Many people report that yeasty paws or ears have a sickly sweet smell or smell like corn chips. If your dog is licking, chewing, or rubbing an area of its body, take notice. Should you expect that your pet has dog yeast infection anywhere on their body it’s important to take your dog to the vet to have scrapings of their skin looked at under a microscope. If the infection is bad enough your dog could require oral medication and not just topical gels, creams, or shampoos.
How are yeast infections treated?
After your vet has confirmed that your dog does indeed have a yeast infection they’ll determine the severity of the case in order to prescribe the best course of treatment. In most cases a cream, gel, spray, wipe, or shampoo is in order, although the product used is largely up to the vet’s preferences. Your dog should be treated with an antifungal for a few weeks, with follow-up visits for more skin scrapings to make sure that the infection is under control. Remember that yeast occurs naturally on the surface of the skin so the goal isn’t to remove it all, but rather to return it to normal levels so it stops irritating your dog.
Some vets may recommend an E-collar to stop your dog from chewing on the affected area. A dog’s paws might be soaked or temporarily wrapped to give the antifungal a chance to work, but keeping them dry afterward is key to healing. A liquid antifungal solution is typically used in the ears and may also be wiped along the outer ear to provide relief.
Home remedies for yeast infections
A quick Google search will turn up anything and everything as an option to treat your dogs’ yeast infection at home. Things like yogurt, probiotics for dogs, or herbs are among the most common, and some people might see some temporary relief from these remedies, but in order to kill a fungus, which is the family that yeast belongs to, an antifungal is key. It’s also worth noting that no formal studies have been done on those home remedies.
Some experts say that coconut oil, having many heath benefits can also be used to treat yeast infections on dogs. Another remedy that has actual data to support its’ use is vinegar . The most common type of vinegar used is apple cider vinegar, but not just any apple cider vinegar. You want one that is raw, organic, and unfiltered. It will often be referred to as ‘the mother’ right on the bottle. The mother is the bacteria and yeast used in the fermentation process that turns the apple cider into apple cider vinegar. Do not just pour the vinegar all over your dog though, especially if they have open sores or wounds. You want to dilute the vinegar and use it as an after-bath rinse in order to make your dogs’ ph level unfavorable for yeast to thrive in. It does smell, but the smell vanishes once your dog is dry so don’t worry.
Is there anything I can do to stop yeast infections from happening again?
Preventing reoccurring dog yeast infection begins with identifying what caused it in the first place. If your dog is a breed that is predisposed for yeast infections then maintenance is critical. Using an antifungal shampoo regularly can be beneficial, but make sure to read the instructions because most shampoos have to sit on the skin for up to 10 minutes in order to be effective. After rinsing you can follow up with that diluted apple cider vinegar rinse we mentioned before. Dogs with skin folds should have extra special attention paid to keeping them cool and dry there. Minimize outdoor play when it is hot and make sure to have a towel ready to assist with drying off whenever swimming or puddle jumping is on the agenda.
Another option is to have your dog tested for allergies to see if they are allergic to the yeast itself. Keep in mind that this can be expensive, so unless your dog is getting reoccurring yeast infections it might not be necessary. If your dog is found to be allergic to yeast there are ways to help desensitize them using certain immunotherapy techniques. This won’t completely stop your dog from ever getting a yeast infection again, but it will greatly improve the quality of life for your best friend, and potentially save you a lot of time spent sitting in the vet’s office.
How do I treat a yeast infection on my dogs’ paws?
After you’ve located the source of your dogs’ discomfort, your next goal is obviously how to provide some relief for your dog. Topical antifungal creams and shampoos are most commonly used to treat dog yeast infections of the skin. Look for products with ingredients like Miconazole or Ketoconazole and give your pup a bath. You can also soak the paws if your dog will allow it. Sometimes, if an infection is too severe a vet may prescribe oral antifungal medicine to be used along with topical treatment. Oral medication is almost always used in conjunction with a topical treatment, not in place of it.
How do I know if my dog has a yeast infection on his paws?
Yeast can grow anywhere on a dog, but especially loves places where it is damp. The folds of a dogs’ skin are perfect, which obviously means the paws are the perfect ecosystem for a yeast infection. If your dog has red, inflamed skin between their toes that has a musty or sweet odor similar to corn chips, they could have a yeast infection. A great way to tell is to look for rust-colored skin that looks greasy and is very warm to the touch. Severe infections might have fur missing, or a greasy substance oozing from open wounds in the affected area.
What does a yeast infection look like on a dog?
A yeast infection on a dog will look pretty similar, regardless of the location. Check areas where two pieces of skin meet such as ears, paws, armpits, and even the base of the tail. If your dog has wrinkles, check those too. You’re looking for red, irritated skin that your dog might try to hide from you whenever you touch it. Your dog might be licking this area quite a bit, so pay attention to their licking habits as an indicator for where to start the search. Look for discolored fur, greasy fur, or anything that looks thick, irritated, and itchy. Depending on how long your dog has been infected there might even be hair loss or open wounds from incessant licking, scratching, or rubbing.
How can I treat my dogs’ infected paws at home?
If you suspect your dog has a yeast infection the best course of action is to see a vet, but if you’re looking to provide relief for your dog at home there are a few ways. Using an antifungal shampoo, wipe or cream can help clear the skin of some irritants, although you should be careful not to put antifungals on any open wounds or sores. Soaking the affected area in Epsom salt can help reduce swelling, but depending on the area in question, it might be easier just to bathe your dog in the antifungal shampoo really well. Keep in mind that antifungal shampoos must sit on the skin for about ten minutes before being rinsed off in order for the antifungal to get a chance to settle onto the skin. Rinsing it off with cool water or diluted apple cider vinegar is a great way to offer your pup a little bit of relief.