Yeast is an opportunistic microorganism that can cause a lot of ailments, if the immune system is not healthy enough to control their population. A yeast infection can cause skin irritation and ear infections in dogs. Find out how and why dogs can develop yeast infections, and how to treat this condition, through this DogAppy article.
Like humans, the intestine of a dog contains both beneficial and harmful microorganisms. Yeast is a type of harmful unicellular microorganism that commonly resides in the mucous membrane of the digestive tract. A healthy immune system, and beneficial bacteria or microorganisms check the population of yeasts in the body.
But a change in the pH of the digestive tract or the intestine can destroy the beneficial microorganisms. This can provide an opportunity to yeast to multiply rapidly, and release toxic substances. The condition can become more serious, when a weakened immune system fails to regulate the proliferation of yeasts. In dogs, yeast infections are generally caused by two types of yeasts – Candida albicans and Malassezia pachydermatis.
Causes of Yeast Infections
Any factor that can weaken the immune system, and change the pH of the gut, can cause an uncontrolled growth of yeast. An overuse of antibiotics can destroy the beneficial bacteria, which can give an opportunity to yeast to multiply rapidly. Infectious diseases, dog allergies, and skin diseases like seborrhea can cause skin irritation in dogs, and make them more prone to develop a yeast infection.
Certain other important risk factors for yeast infections are, use of steroids, canine diabetes, thyroid problems, stress, diseases that compromise the immune system, toxic gut syndrome, and medications used for flea and heartworm infestations. The diet of your dog can also play an important role, as the incidence of this infection has been found to be more in dogs which are fed a grain-based diet.
Symptoms of Yeast Infections
An overgrowth of yeast can cause skin problems and ear infections. The skin of the belly, neck, and the feet is more commonly affected by this condition. The most common symptoms of this condition are, skin irritation and the development of skin sores, rashes, or lesions, which can remain confined to a particular part or affect several parts of the body.
Itching or skin irritation often compels the dog to scratch or rub the affected area. Eventually, scaling, hair loss, and hyper pigmentation can be observed on the affected area. If it is an ear infection, you can observe your dog shaking its head, and scratching the ear frequently. Occasionally, an overgrowth of yeast can manifest in gastrointestinal problems like gas and bloating, lethargy, depression, and fatigue.
An external or skin infection can be treated with topical medicated ointments. The miconazole cream, if applied topically on the affected area, can provide considerable relief. Sulfur-based or medicated shampoos like chlorhexidine can also be used for treating an external yeast infection. Shampoos that contain benzoyl peroxide can be used for giving your dog a bath, and clean the infected areas. Vinegar on the other hand, is an excellent home remedy for yeast infections.
An ear infection, on the other hand, can be treated with regular cleaning, and ointments like thiabendazole or clotrimazole. If the infection is severe, then topical ointments may not be able to contain the infection. In such a situation, you may need the help of oral medications like ketoconazole or itraconazole. Though they can cause some side effects, these antifungal medications are quite effective in curing the condition. But these oral medications should be administered only under the supervision of a veterinarian.
Along with medications, diet modifications are equally important for treating and preventing canine yeast infections. To check the population of yeast, you should cut down the amount of grain in your pet’s diet. Instead, you can give them more raw meat after discussing the issue with a veterinarian. Some natural or home remedies like apple cider vinegar and lemon juice can help regulate the population of yeasts in the digestive tract. You can also opt for probiotic supplements that can help maintain the population of beneficial microorganisms in the intestinal tract. Dietary enzymes on the other hand, can maintain the pH of the digestive tract, and prevent an overgrowth of yeast.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of a veterinarian.