In many cases, when dogs have flakey, itchy, or irritated skin, the problem is yeast dermatitis. Today, our Novato vets talk about yeast dermatitis in dogs, including what causes it, how you can recognize it, and how it can be treated.
Dog Yeast Infections
When there is an abnormal overproduction of the yeast that is normally found on your dog's skin, your pup can get a yeast infection in their ears or on their skin. Yeast is a natural spore-producing fungus on a canine's body that doesn't usually result in illness unless there is too much of it.
Yeast infections (also referred to as Malassezia dermatitis or Yeast Dermatitis) normally occur in a dog's ears, in the fold of their skin, or between their paw pads. This condition can cause irritation, itchy skin, and redness of the affected area on your dog's skin. If yeast infections in a dog's ear are left too long without treatment it could also cause deafness.
What Does Yeast Dermatitis Look Like On a Dog?
There are a handful of signs and symptoms that could indicate your dog has yeast dermatitis or a yeast ear infection including:
- Musty odor
- Change in skin texture (elephant skin)
- Skin redness
- Hair loss
- Flaky or scaly skin
- The appearance of darkly pigmented skin
- Sores on the skin
- Hearing loss (ear yeast infection)
- Head tilting and shaking (ear yeast infection)
An odor, as well as swelling and redness of the infected area, are usually the first symptoms a dog will develop when they have a yeast infection. However, these symptoms can progress to other symptoms such as pain and warmth. If you see your pooch exhibiting any signs of a yeast infection contact your vet as quickly as possible to book an appointment, so your pup can be examined and treated.
The Causes of Yeast Dermatitis & Ear Infections in Dogs
Yeast and other bacteria and fungi naturally occur on your dog's skin, and usually, they don't cause any problems, unless something causes a change in your dog's skin condition or makes their immune system less effective, which can result in yeast infections. Here are a few of the most common causes of yeast dermatitis and ear infections in dogs:
- Heat and humidity
- Swimming (ear yeast infections)
- Frequent bathing (ear yeast infections)
- Trapped moisture in skin folds, ears, or paw pads
- Foods high in sugar and carbs
- Poor hygiene
- Certain ear drops (ear yeast infection)
- Allergens (smoke, mold, dust, dander, cleaning products, etc.)
- Trapped object in the ear, ear wax, or discharge (ear yeast infections)
- An underactive or overreactive immune system
Treating Yeast Infections in Dogs
The first thing you should do is call your vet if you think you think your dog might have a yeast ear infection or yeast dermatitis because the earlier this condition is addressed the faster your pup will get better. To diagnose your dog's infection your veterinarian will use culturing or cytology. They may also take samples of your pet's hair and skin from around the infection site to conduct additional testing.
When your dog is diagnosed with a yeast infection your vet 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 your vet may prescribe oral tables such as ketoconazole, fluconazole, or terbinafine.
If your dog has a yeast infection in its ear that caused deafness your pup might require total ear canal ablation surgery.
Preventing Yeast Dermatitis & Ear Infections in Dogs At-Home
While it's important to have your dog's yeast infections examined by your veterinarian to ensure there aren't any complications or secondary infections, there are several things you can do to keep your dog from getting yeast infections, such as:
- Brushing your dog regularly as part of their regular hygiene routine to clear away dead skin and dirt
- Cleaning your dog's ears of dirt regularly with a clean cloth or cotton ball
- Completely drying your pup after a bath or playing in the water
- Feeding your pooch a healthy diet full of protein and other nutrients
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.