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Dog Yeast Infections: A Basic Guide

Sad looking dog with yeast infection.

Source: Flickr

Yeast infections are a pretty common skin problem in dogs, just like us humans. Also similar is their manifestations as reddish inflamed skin, incredibly itchy that also produces an unpleasant odour. But while most instances of yeast infections are usually visible on your dog’s skin, the problem can also affect them internally.

Causes

The digestive tracts of both humans and animals are inhabited by both good and bad bacteria. These two factions constant keep each other in check, ensuring that neither one will overpower the other. Therefore, a healthy dog would have a balanced amount of both types, primarily maintained by its immune system.

This balance can be upset by a number of factors, which will lead to an imbalance in good and bad bacteria. When an imbalance occurs, the bad bacteria takes control and could incite a range of problems and diseases, one of which would be a yeast infection. The yeast can damage the dog’s immunity by quickly reproducing itself to overwhelming amounts, which will consequently produce toxins that will further damage the immune system and allowing further complications to arise.

Tape Cytology from a dog with Malassezia Dermatitis, more commonly known as a 'yeast infection'

Source: Wiki Commons

Because of this, it’s not wise to treat a yeast infection likely – it may serve as a precursor of additional problems and diseases that could prove to be more dangerous for your dog.

But what causes this imbalance in the first place? The truth is that there are a lot of factors that could be potential culprits, including injuries, a weakened immune system or intense stress upon the dog.

Any injuries sustained, especially flesh wounds, are prone to infection by external influences that can introduce a yeast infection. Immune systems may be weakened by many factors, such as a prior illness, genetic deformities possibly due to inbreeding, or even administered antibiotics prescribed by the vet.

Stress could also be another possible factor. He could have had a drastic change of environment, or has experienced loss or death of someone close. Hormones may also contribute to his condition.

Last but not least, your dog’s diet could also be a cause for the imbalance; maybe something he was fed indirectly caused an increase in yeast production, something that could happen if he eats large amounts of carbohydrates, for example.

Symptoms

The word ‘yeast infections’ bring to mind patches of exposed, hairless skin populated by rashes, sores and lesions that have a greasy sheen to them or even a viscous discharge, as well as giving off a pungent odour.

Rear view of a dog with a yeast infection

Source: Wiki Commons

The rashes and lesions are due to the fact that yeast infections are incredibly itchy, and could be the result of your dog scratching and biting on them in an effort to relieve the pain.

Yeast infections that manifest in rashes are capable of occurring in any part of your dog’s skin, but occur most frequently in moist areas, such as the belly region, the paws and also the ears. If your dog is constantly scratching in either of these parts, they may well be dealing with a case of yeast infection.

Take note, however, that itchy dogs form the basis of more than one form of skin problem. Because of this, it’s best to take them to a vet to get them checked out if you’re not sure about what’s causing the itchiness.

Treatment

Yeast infections can be eradicated with proper knowledge and medication, but it should be noted that healing does take time to occur – those red patches of itchy dog skin just aren’t going to disappear overnight. Don’t let that get you down though; starting and maintaining a consistent regime of diet and medicine will surely banish those disgusting yeast infections from your dog.

Internal Treatment

The quickest thing you can do to tackle this problem is to have a look at what your dog’s been eating. Yeast thrives in the presence of sugar, as they use it to feed themselves and to reproduce. Therefore, the logical thing to do is to cut off their source of supply. But where do we start?

Well, remember back in science class that carbohydrates break down into sugar? That’s right, they will need to go, ASAP. This means no bread fed from the table, along with any rice and potatoes on their mealtimes. Even any commercial dog food that contains sugar has to be taken out from the doggie menu. If you want to be thorough, keep him away from honey and corn syrup-based foods as well. Fruits are also a no-no. Once this process of removing sugar from his diet has started, your dog is definitely on the road to recovery from yeast infections.

Once the diet part of the equation is sorted out, it’s time to bolster his immune system with vitamins and supplements. You’ll need to consult a vet to see which ones your dog will need, as there’s a range of products to choose from for all sort of dogs and conditions, but there are many pharmaceutical products available in pet stores that could do the trick for you.

External Treatment

Now that your dog’s trouble with yeast infection has been dealt with internally, the next thing you’ll need to do is to clean up the skin problems. As has been said before, the ears are commonly afflicted in these situations. To combat the infection, use an ear wash solution designed for dogs to clean up the ears, making sure that it’s clear and dry with no traces of that distinctive odour. Clean them as often as it’s needed; once a day if your dog’s ears get damp and smelly quick, but do it alternate days if it’s not too serious.

A Dog With Yeast Infection

Source: Wiki Commons

For the paws and feet, use a solution comprised of 50% raw apple cider vinegar and 50% water. Dip your dog’s feet into this solution several times and then wipe it off. Do take note though – never, ever do this if the feet has lesions on it.

As for the rest of the body, get a medicated or anti-fungal shampoo and give your dog a bath at least twice a week. This will help to eradicate the yeast in your dog’s skin and improve the condition. After the bath, you can also make use of herbal oils such as eucalyptus to give your dog a massage, which will further help to heal and soothe the skin.

Some Additional Advice

Dog yeast infections don’t usually get cured in a week, so be prepared to stick to your regime for a month at least before seeing substantial results. This also means repeated trips to your vet to follow up on your dog’s progress, if you ever decide to consult one.

Usually, what the vets prescribe for your dog will be sufficient in helping to get rid of the yeast infection. However, some types of medicine – especially antibiotics and steroids, – aren’t necessarily the best tools for the job, not to mention that they cost quite a bit as well. If this bothers you, there is the possibility of looking for easier and healthier alternatives that can produce the same effect. Of course, you’ll need to undertake a little more research on this area, but do consider this route if you find it worth your time.

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