Yeast Infection in Dogs: Everything You Need to Know

One of the most common infections in dogs is yeast infection. Learn what to do when your dog starts itching inconsolably and find out what treatments are the most effective.
dog at the vet
dog at the vet
dog at the vet

Does your dog suffer from itchy skin, swelling or exaggerated drooling? There are many underlying conditions for such symptoms, but one of the most common infections in dogs might be the culprit. While you’re waiting for your vet appointment, read on to learn more about spotting and tackling yeast infection in dogs.

What is a yeast infection in dogs?

Yeast is a fungus that lives on the skin and inside the gut of your dog without causing any harm, most of the time. However, there are certain triggers that when activated can lead to an over-population of yeast. The body will then try to get the yeast population back to its normal levels which causes the symptoms of yeast infection in dogs to flare up.

What are the symptoms of yeast infection in dogs

There are a few tell-tale signs that your dog might be struggling with yeast infection. Here are the most common symptoms:

1. Scratching the skin

Usually the first sign is your dog scratching, biting and chewing at skin. Head shaking might also be an indicator that the dog is trying to relieve their discomfort. Dog ear yeast infection is extremely common, so if your dog keeps their head tilted this might be one of the causes. The feet and between the digits of the paws are also commonly affected.

dog scratching in a field

2. Hair loss

Associated with yeast infection in dogs is loss of hair, which usually follows the itchiness in the affected area.

3. Change in skin colour

Yeast infection in dogs manifests itself visually as well, so keep an eye on your dog’s coat for any pink or red areas on the skin. This may also be accompanied by swelling and the spot might be warm to touch as well. If the infection has become chronic, and been present in your dog causing skin disease for a while, you might also notice darkening of the skin (called hyperpigmentation).

4. Odour

There is a particular scent linked to yeast infection in dogs. As the infection progresses you may notice a different smell to the normal one emanating from your dog.

5. Licking

If your dog starts to incessantly lick an affected area of their skin, this might be their way of coping with the itchiness brought on by a yeast infection. Pay attention to any other attempts they make to quell itchiness such as scooting along the floor or rubbing up against a wall or piece of furniture.

These symptoms occur most commonly in yeast infection in dogs, but they might also point to a different or more serious condition. Whenever you notice any or all of the symptoms above, make sure you have your dog checked with a vet.

How is yeast infection in dogs diagnosed?

The vet will be able to diagnose the condition by running a few tests on your dog’s skin. Hair plucks, skin scrapes or smears, very easy to take, are common techniques used to help identify any infectious agents, including yeasts, that could be contributing to the skin disease. These are analysed under the microscope to determine if the fungus responsible for the yeast infection exists in the sample, or whether there are any other bacteria, fungi or viruses that may be causing the symptoms.

What risk factors increase the likelihood of yeast infection in dogs?

Here are a few risk factors that can lead to yeast infection in dogs:

  • Hot, humid weather
  • Skin irritation
  •  Pre-existing underlying skin disease e.g. atopic dermatitis
  • Skin folds
  • Bacterial infection
  • Medication such as antibiotics or corticosteroids

 

Certain dog breeds are also more predisposed to developing yeast infection. These include the Basset Hound, Shih Tzu, Golden Retriever or Cocker Spaniel.

dog in the lap of the owner

Treatments for yeast infection in dogs

Topical treatment for yeast infection in dogs

Anti-fungal shampoos are usually the first recommendation. Depending on the progress of the infection, you might have to apply the topical medications a few times a week to the affected area or even a few times a day. The chemicals in the medicated shampoo will kill the yeast, so your dog’s skin should start to improve within about a week. For dog ear yeast infection the same anti-fungal agents are concentrated in ear drops that can be used to successfully treat the infection.

Oral treatment for yeast infection in dogs

If the yeast infection does not respond to the topical treatment, oral medications might be prescribed. It is essential to pay a visit to the vet as the treatment can vary depending on your dog’s age and any underlying conditions.

Anti-inflammatory medication can also help reduce the swelling. If this is necessitated, your vet will prescribe them – do not use any over-the-counter medications or tablets you might have at home as these could cause further problems or even be toxic.

If you think your dog has a yeast infection or any skin condition, please don’t try to treat your dog with home remedies as you could risk making the problem worse. You should always take your dog to the vet for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate, tailored treatment for your dog’s particular condition. An allergy can look very similar to a yeast infection in dogs and vice versa, so it’s important to ask for professional help to ensure your dog gets the best care possible.  

Read more about other skin problems in dogs and keep up to date with tips for keeping you and your dog healthy.