Yeast Infections in Dogs & Red Paws

By Brian Clark

Malassezia pachydermatis is a yeast that is commonly found on the skin of dogs. In most dogs, it does not cause any problems. In other dogs however, this yeast may grow and reproduce rapidly, causing a yeast infection leading to localized skin reactions. One of the areas that is most often infected are the dog's paws. This can lead to red and inflamed paws.


Malassezia pachydermatis is a yeast that is commonly found in the ears, vagina, anal sacs and rectum of healthy dogs. Many dogs will never develop symptoms from this yeast. Certain breeds of dogs appear to have a higher susceptibility to malassezia infection, including poodles, terriers, Chihuahuas and German shepherds.


A weakened immune system can increase the risk of yeast infection. Hereditary and infectious disease, allergies and skin irritations can all leave the dog susceptible to Malassezia yeast infections.


The paws are one of the most common areas for a yeast infection. This is because this area tends to stay wet for a longer period of time and there is not a lot of air circulation between the toes, which causes the yeast to multiply. A yeast infection that affects the paws will cause itching between the toes and on the foot pad. The paws may become red due to the irritation and the fact that the dog may continually lick his paws to help sooth the skin. Yeast infections can also affect the muzzle, ears and groin area.


Your veterinarian will diagnose a yeast infection by examining a skin scraping under a microscope. If an infection is present, a higher number of yeast will be visible. Presence of malassezia pachydermatis on the skin scraping does not constitute an infection. This yeast is on the skin of most dogs. Diagnosis is made by the higher number of yeast present with corresponding symptoms, such as red, inflamed paws.


The primary treatment for yeast infection is systematic and topical antifungal medications. If the infection is mild and localized to a small area, you can apply topical miconazole cream twice a day for several weeks. For more severe yeast infections, use an oral medication. Give ketoconazole daily for three to five weeks. Symptoms such as red, inflamed paws usually begin to resolve in one to two weeks. You must continue this medication for the prescribed time for it to be effective.


Other conditions such as inhalant allergies and food allergies can cause red, inflamed paws. It is important to see your veterinarian to determine if a yeast infection is present in order to receive the proper treatment.