Yeast is the most over-looked cause of itching in dogs. It can also cause brown discharge in the ears, chewing of the feet, itching by the tail, flanks, belly and feet. It is often misdiagnosed as environmental allergies, flea bite dermatitis or food allergies. This article will discuss easy ways to get rid of pesky yeast!
Yeast, or Malassezia dermatitis, is air borne and found normally on a dog’s skin. Whether you are experiencing a particularly hot summer, live in a wet climate, or when you turn the furnace on in the fall, all of these environments can cause yeast to grow. Yeast is also commonly found on puppies and senior dogs when their immune system is either immature or suppressed.
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The first symptoms show up as mild itching. The itching continues and begins to worsen and can be accompanied by ear rubbing, redness in the ear and the development of a brown discharge. Sometimes ‘hotspots’ (weepy, large sores, usually on the neck, back or legs) can develop. Yeast grows in moist areas on the dog, such as the ears, around the eyes and mouth, feet, belly and rear end. Dogs can lick their feet so much they develop redness between the toes that can develop into cysts and cause sores on the pads. Yeast can occur as one of these symptoms, a few of them, or all of them. In addition to these symptoms, some dogs can also develop a yeasty, musty odor.
If your dog is itchy and has any or all of the symptoms mentioned above, have your veterinarian do a skin scraping and culture. Your veterinarian will take a small sample of the affected area and send it off to a laboratory to culture and determine if yeast is present. You don’t have to wait for the results to begin taking steps to make your dog feel better. Treatment is straight forward and fairly simple and easy. But be sure to follow the timing precisely, to make sure you get rid of the yeast!
The first step is to purchase the needed ingredients. You need to buy a good anti-fungal, anti-bacterial shampoo. It does not need to be strong smelling to be good and you can find several quality shampoos online. Then buy some baking soda. The same simple baking soda you find at your grocery store. Lastly, you need a good ear treatment such as Zymox (the cortisone free version).
The second step is to bathe your dog in the shampoo and follow with a rinse of 4 tablespoons of baking soda to a quart of water. Leave this mix on your dog for ten minutes and rinse. REPEAT this bathing and rinse process two more times – one day apart, and then weekly for at least a month. At the same time, start the ear treatment with Zymox and use for ten days. While the baking soda will kill the yeast on your dog’s body, the Zymox will kill the yeast in the ears!
If your dog’s feet have been affected, you can purchase an athlete foot spray, such as Tinactin, and apply on your dog’s feet twice a day. If the yeast and itching has developed hot spots on your dog, you can use Gold Bond Foot Powder on the hot spots.
Lastly, it is important to wash your dog’s bedding frequently and mop the flooring where your dog may rest or sleep daily. If you use an outdoor kennel, the flooring needs to be disinfected daily as well. I would also suggest treating any of your other dogs in your household whether they show symptoms or not. Yeast can spread easily and is opportunistic in settling in dogs due to age, illness, recent vaccination, or if a dog has recently been on antibiotics or steroids. Both of these drugs promote yeast growth.
Please note that areas affected by yeast can itch for 30 days after the yeast is killed and it can come back! Therefore, you need to be diligent and watch for any reoccurrence. If the symptoms return, repeat the steps outlined above.
A good prevention of yeast can be to feed a good, healthy diet. This can be a raw diet, home-cooked diet, or kibble diet mixed half and half with animal-based proteins (yogurt, meat, eggs). Avoid starches, grains and fruit as these are all high in sugars and help to promote yeast growth. I also recommend adding the Berte’s Immune Blend to your dog’s diet. This supplement contains vitamins A, B complex, C, D3 and E, and probiotics. Probiotics are especially important as they help keep yeast in balance. If your dog is going to be on steroids or antibiotics, I also suggest giving Berte’s Ultra Probiotic Powder while your dog is on the medication. If on antibiotics, offer the probiotic powder two hours prior to or after giving the medication and continue for up to a month after the medication use is over. In addition, I recommend adding Fish Oil Capsules at one per 10-20 pounds daily. Fish oil contains omega 3 fatty acids, which are difficult to find in foods. Omega 3 fatty acids help support skin and coat and the immune system.
I hope you find this information on treating yeast helpful and your dog will thank you.