Your dog may be itching, licking, and biting their paws. Your pet may also be shaking its head or scratching its ears more than usual. So what could cause this discomfort? Many times foot fungus and yeast infections are to blame. Your vet can best assess what may be causing these uncomfortable symptoms and the best course of treatment.
What causes a yeast infection?
Yeast is a type of fungus normally present on a dog's body. However, problems arise when there is an overgrowth or abundance of yeast. Dogs typically get yeast infections on their feet, paws, and ears. The fungus Malassezia pachydermatis is to blame, according to VCA Hospitals.
This yeast is naturally occurring on dogs' skin, but an overgrowth can cause unpleasant symptoms. Gut health also plays an important role in keeping yeast in check. Overuse of antibiotics can cause the overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut. However, yeast infections are not contagious.
Symptoms of yeast infections
VCA Hospitals states that the most common symptoms of yeast dermatitis are itching, redness, musty odor, flaky skin, thickened skin, dark skin, chronic otitis externa, or ear infections. If your dog has an ear infection, he may shake his head frequently and scratch at his ears often. Your dog may also be excessively licking his skin or have hair loss around the infected area. If your dog is exhibiting these symptoms, a yeast infection could be the culprit.
Try coconut oil
Coconut oil is a great dog yeast infection home remedy. Coconut oil consists of saturated fats, most of which are medium chain triglycerides, also referred to as MCTs. MCTs have lauric acid which is antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral. It also contains caprylic acid and capric acid which are antifungals, according to The American Kennel Club.
Coconut oil can be used topically to soothe dog paw fungus. It leaves a light fresh scent as well that both you and your pet will enjoy. The American Kennel Club recommends coconut oil because it can help many skin conditions like dry skin, itchy skin, hot spots, bites, and stings.
They also recommend a homemade coconut oil paw balm for added pampering. Coconut paw balm can be used for fungal infections and in winter when dry skin is at its worst.
Oregano oil home remedy
Oregano oil is a great natural herbal remedy. Known for its antibiotic properties, oregano oil is also a strong anti-fungal. It can be applied topically, put in food, or diffused, as recommended in Dogs Naturally Magazine. You do not need to use much. Try a drop or two.
Some dogs are averse to the smell, so using a small amount may work best. Mixing it in with food is helpful so it's taste and smell is less noticeable. If your dog refuses to eat oregano oil, then apply a small amount topically.
Introduce kefir to their diet
Kefir is a cultured, fermented milk drink derived from kefir grains. It is similar to a thin yogurt and is filled with probiotics, vitamins, and minerals. Probiotics can be helpful in getting rid of yeast because yeast can live in your dog's digestive tract. According to Dogs Naturally Magazine, kefir has 30 different strains of good bacteria and yeast. Ingesting kefir can help restore healthy gut bacteria and get yeast overgrowth under control.
Dogs Naturally Magazine adds that kefir contains good bacteria like Lactobacillus Caucasus, Leuconostoc, Streptococcus species, and Acetobacter species. Kefir also contains healthy yeasts like Torula kefir and Saccharomyces kefir. This can helps boost your dog's overall immune system and restore gut health.
Introduce it slowly into your dog's diet to avoid any potential stomach upset. If your dog is sensitive to dairy, however, skip this dog yeast infection treatment option.
Use apple cider vinegar
There are dozens of uses for apple cider vinegar and fighting off yeast is one of them. Dogs Naturally Magazine recommends applying it topically by diluting it with water after shampooing the dog. It can also be used to clean ears if your dog is prone to ear infections.
Lastly, it can be added to food and water. They recommend always buying raw, unfiltered, and organic for the highest quality apple cider vinegar.
Try pau d’arco supplement
Pau d'arco can be taken as a supplement. It is made from a tree found in the rain forests of South America. Be sure to buy a high quality supplement for best results. It is taken to boost the immune system as stated in Dogs Naturally Magazine. Boosting your dog's immune system can help restore a heathy gut and help keep yeast overgrowth in check.
Oral treatments may be needed
Your vet may decide to prescribe an oral antifungal medication for more severe cases of yeast infections and dermatitis. Oral anti-fungal medications include fluconazole, ketoconazole, and itraconazole according to VCA Hospitals. They also mention that dogs with yeast dermatitis often simultaneously have a bacterial skin infection.
These dogs will need to take antibiotics and may need to take them for several weeks to clear up the infection. These medications can have negative side effects if taken long term, so monitoring your pet and following up with your vet is necessary.
Shampoo dog yeast infection treatment
A special shampoo may be prescribed by your vet. VCA Hospitals notes that if your dog has oily or greasy skin, you may need to use a shampoo with benzoyl peroxides or selenium sulfide. They also suggest that your dog will need an anti-fungal shampoo containing chlorhexidine, ketoconazole, or miconazole as a next step.
Anti-fungal shampoos take time to work properly and must remain on the skin for at least ten minutes to be effective. The shampoo must also be repeated every 3-5 days for two to twelve weeks.
Prescription topical ointments
Your dog may be able to use a topical ointment as a spot treatment if the infection is not systemic. If the infection is only in a few areas of the skin or just in their ears, then applying a daily ointment may be your best bet, according to VCA Hospitals. This treatment can provide immediate relief to your itchy friend.
If you notice your dog showing signs of itchiness and skin irritation, consult with your veterinarian. Your vet can best determine next steps so your pup has some sweet and welcome relief.