When we get a dog we know that there will be upsides as well as downsides.
And the downsides for some of us mean that we will need to treat our dog for yeast infections.
This is particularly true for those of you who own dogs with “wrinkly” skin (such as Bulldogs) or dogs with long ears (such as King Charles Spaniels.)
And as if treating these infections isn’t hard enough another worry that some dog owners have is, can an owner catch a yeast infection from their dog?
A question that I will try to answer in my article today.
What are yeast infections in dogs?
Yeast infections are a fungal infection that affects certain body parts. While on humans they typically infect the female genital area, yeast infection can infect any part of a dog’s skin.
The presence of yeast on a dog’s body is actually normal.
It is only when there’s too much of it that it leads to an infection.
In dogs, yeast infections are usually caused by Malassezia sp. Yeast usually infects moist areas, such as skin folds, armpits, ears, groin, paws, and stomach.
Are fungal infections the same as yeast infections?
While the terms are often used interchangeably, fungal infections are not the same as yeast infections. It is true that yeast infection is caused by fungal microorganisms.
However, yeast has different biological and physical properties than most fungal species, and they’re different from fungi that commonly cause fungal infections in dogs like Aspergillosis, Cryptococcosis, and Blastomycosis.
How do yeast infections spread?
Yeast infection is not contagious and therefore does not spread to other dogs, not even through direct contact with the infected site.
Your dog’s yeast infection was caused by immunity and hygiene issues, not spread from other dogs.
Yeast infections don’t spread to other animals or pets either.
Can humans get yeast infections from dogs?
Again, yeast infection isn’t contagious and humans can’t get yeast infections from dogs.
However, sometimes a yeast infection can cause a secondary fungal or bacterial infection and those are potentially contagious.
How do dogs get these yeast infections?
The most common cause of dog yeast infection is allergy. Allergic reactions on the skin compromise the dog’s immunity, increase oil production, and cause a yeast infection. In fact, Malassezia infections are often a secondary condition to allergy reactions on the skin.
On top of that, medications for allergies alter the natural balance of good bacteria, thus potentially inducing yeast infections. Allergens like pollens, dust, or mold on their own too might cause yeast infections.
- Steroid medications
Dogs with low immunity become susceptible to yeast infection. Those that receive immunosuppressive treatment such as steroids have a higher risk of chronic yeast infection because they’re not able to fight off the infections.
While antibiotics are prescribed to certain dogs to alleviate certain conditions, they can also improve the chances of yeast infection. Antibiotics eliminate bacteria and this induces yeast growth.
- Excess moisture
A trigger of yeast infection is sweat or moist conditions in general. As stated earlier, yeast thrives in moist places. Therefore, high temperature and humidity also increase the chances of getting yeast infected. This is why some dogs have a seasonal yeast infection
- Ear dirt
In the case of ear yeast infection, the infection typically occurs because of earwax, trapped water or debris inside the ear canal, use of ear drops that alter the natural bacteria of the ear, or poor ear hygiene.
What are the main symptoms of yeast infections in dogs?
- Red, irritated spots in the infected area
- Musty odor
- Hair loss in the infected area
- Brown discharge in the infected area, especially in nail beds if the infection is on the paw
- Scales or crusty and flaky skin
- Thickening of the infected skin
- Excessive licking and scratching of the infected area
- Rubbing body against furniture
- Repeated head shaking
- Ear infections
What is the most effective medication for treating a yeast infection?
- Topical treatments
If the infection is mild, it can simply be treated topically.
- Medicated shampoo
Antifungal shampoo normally reduces the symptoms. Bathe your dog every 3 – 5 days with the shampoo until the infection is under control. Leave the lather for around 10 minutes before rinsing.
If your dog’s skin is oily or scaly, you can use degreasing shampoo. It will remove the filmy coating that prevents topical medications from working.
- Creams or sprays
Apply antifungal cream directly to the infected area. Find ones that contain chlorhexidine, miconazole, or ketoconazole, there are some that you can buy over the counter. The cream should come with clear instructions.
Anti-yeast creams can also be applied inside the ear, but you should ask your vet’s opinion first.
Be careful when treating your dog’s yeast infection. Not all antifungal medicines are suitable for yeast infections. To be sure, get a diagnosis from your vet to really determine whether it’s a yeast or fungal infection.
- Clean your dog
Sometimes yeast infection is a hygiene problem. Along with giving topical treatments, improving your pup’s hygiene is a sure way to alleviate the infection.
- Clean the ears
For yeast infections that occur in the ears, the most effective medication is to clean their ear canals. Use a tissue or cotton ball to clean your dog’s ear with dog ear cleaning solution. It will lower pH levels, repelling yeast. Never use Q-tips to clean down the ear canal.
- Clean the paws
Just like humans with our hands, dog paws are the site of dirt and bacterias. Not only that, a dog’s sweat glands are also mainly located in the paws. This means that they’re always dirty, sweaty, and damp. Keep their paws clean by wiping them after playing outside.
- Oral treatments
If the infection persists, the vet will prescribe your dog oral medications.
- Antifungal pills
Pills will treat yeast infections faster than any topical medications. Some of the most common antifungal pills for yeast are ketoconazole, fluconazole, and itraconazole. However, the possible side effects are also greater, such as stomachache and liver problems.
In the case of severe infection, your dog will be given systemic antifungal therapy. Meaning they will be given oral antifungal treatments for a prolonged time.
Do any natural remedies cure yeast infections?
- Vinegar rinses
Vinegar helps alter skin pH, thus helping in creating an environment less favorable for yeast. However, it’s advised that you only apply the vinegar rinse under the direction of your vet. Vinegar can be harsh and you need to dilute it in an appropriate ratio to avoid irritation.
Are certain dog breeds more prone to yeast infections than others?
Because yeast commonly infects moist areas, wrinkly dog breeds with excess skin folds are more susceptible to yeast infections. Dogs with floppy ears and allergies also have a higher chance of getting infected. These breeds include:
- Shih Tzu
- Golden Retriever
- German Shepherd
For wrinkly dogs, it’s important to know how to maintain their skin folds daily to minimize moisture.
How to prevent yeast infections in dogs
Yeast infections is a tough condition to beat in dogs. It’s not dangerous but it often becomes a recurrence. There are some simple things you can do to prevent your pup from getting a yeast infection or to prevent them from getting it again.
- Routine bathing
Use antifungal shampoo regularly when bathing your dog. Leave the shampoo lather on the dog for 10 minutes before rinsing.
- Dry thoroughly
It is not only the bathing that’s important, but also the drying. Because yeast loves moist environments, you need to make sure your pup is dry after every bath.It is not only the bathing that’s important, but also the drying. Because yeast loves moist environments, you need to make sure your pup is dry after every bath.
- Clean wrinkles every day
For wrinkly dog breeds, do a thorough cleaning and drying in their wrinkle areas. After a bath, dry your dog’s wrinkles with a cloth. Repeat this with a soft cloth to really soak up all those moisture.
If yeast is a big problem, you can also add a little grooming powder to your dog’s skin to get them dry. It’s better to ask your vet first before doing so.
- Stay indoors during extreme weather
High temperatures might induce excess sweating which leads to an overabundance of yeast. To prevent this, keep your dog indoors and avoid extreme heat. This also applies when the weather is extra humid.
- Watch for allergies
Because allergic reaction is a leading cause of yeast infection, make sure you know all of the things your dog is allergic to. Check the ingredients of all the food you give them.
- Healthy diet
As with any disease, one of the best ways to prevent fungal infection is to make sure your canine’s immune system is at its best. This way, they have less chance of getting infected even when they’re susceptible.
To prevent yeast infections, steer clear of foods with high sugar content including refined carbs such as potatoes and rice.
What diseases can humans get from dogs?
While humans can’t get yeast infections from their beloved dogs, there are some diseases in humans commonly obtained from dogs, including:
- Tapeworm: infection that damages the intestines and other tissues.
- Rabies: a deadly virus that spread through the saliva of infected animals (from bites or scratches). Symptoms are fever, headache, spasms, paralysis, excess salivation, and mental confusion. By the time symptoms appear, it’s too late for treatment. However, rabies in humans is rare because of vaccination.
- Salmonellosis: Salmonella bacteria infection that causes diarrhea, fever, and stomach pain.
- Campylobacteriosis: messes with the digestive system inducing conditions like diarrhea and cramps, and also induces fever.
- Brucellosis: a sickness with symptoms similar to flu.
- Capnocytophaga: animal bite wound disease that causes blisters, swelling, and pain.
¹ Photo by MacheMache on Flickr