The start of Summer has brought about some hot, humid and damp weather conditions. This got us thinking about a common issue that can cause discomfort in our beloved besties; yeast infections. We know there’s nothing worse than the feeling of seeing your pet irritated and feeling powerless to help them. However, armed with just a bit of knowledge about the causes, symptoms and effective management of canine yeast dermatitis, we certainly can help!
Causes of Yeast Infections in Dogs:
- Malassezia Yeast Overgrowth: One of the primary culprits behind yeast infections in dogs is an overgrowth of Malassezia, a type of yeast commonly (and naturally) found on the skin. Factors such as allergies, hormonal imbalances, or compromised immune systems can contribute to the proliferation of this yeast, the infection of the hair follicle and the resulting irritations.
- Environmental Factors: Humid and warm environments create ideal conditions for yeast growth. Similarly, allergens such as pollens, mould, dust and even certain cleaning products can trigger a reaction.
- Dietary Factors: Poor nutrition, food allergies, or an imbalanced diet can weaken a dog's immune system, making them more vulnerable to yeast infections.
Symptoms of Yeast Infections in Dogs:
- Itching and Scratching: Usually the first symptom we notice. Dogs with yeast infections often exhibit intense itching and scratching, especially in areas prone to moisture retention, such as ears, paws, and folds of skin. They may chew on their paws and rub against the rug, carpet or lounge in an attempt to alleviate the discomfort.
- Redness and Inflammation: Yeast infections can cause redness, inflammation, and a rash-like appearance on the affected areas of a dog's skin. Little red bumps may be noticeable, often on the belly and hind quarters where hair coverage may not be as thick.
- Unpleasant Odor: A distinctive, musty odor is a common sign of yeast infections in dogs. This odor is particularly noticeable in the ears, paws and skin folds and smells something like Cheezels!
- Ear Infections: Yeast infections frequently affect a dog's ears, leading to symptoms like head shaking, ear scratching, and a waxy discharge
Management and Treatment:
- Regular Cleaning and Grooming: Keeping your dog's ears and skin folds clean and dry is crucial in preventing recurring yeast infections. Regular grooming helps reduce the risk of moisture accumulation. If your pup is a Summer swimmer, allow them to thoroughly dry out in the sunshine or give them a rub down with a towel before bringing them back inside.
- Medicated Shampoos and Topical Treatments: Medicated shampoos containing antifungal agents can help reduce yeast overgrowth on the skin. However, if like us, you'd prefer to try a natural remedy first, apple cider vinegar and coconut oil are two of nature's best antifungals!
- Dietary Factors: Clearly, we're big believers in a fresh, raw diet being a crucial part of overall preventative healthcare! However, if your dog is suffering recurring yeast infections despite your best efforts, you may need to consider that a food allergy is triggering the unnatural yeast growth. The most common protein allergen is chicken so switching up to, for example, duck, may give positive results. It's important to note that a food allergy can develop due to repeated exposure to a single protein so feeding a variety where possible is a great idea!
- Antifungal Medications: If you've still had no results then, of course, we recommend consulting with your veterinarian. They can prescribe antifungal medications that can assist with clearing the infection up fast. However, make sure to continue following all the above steps and keep a consistent maintenance routine.