If you've ever noticed a red or rust-colored stain on your dog's fur, you may have jumped to a couple of common conclusions. Sometimes, these discolorations can be mistaken for dirt, while others may fear their dog has a bloody injury. Once you've ruled out either of these possibilities, however, you'll likely find that the redness you see on your dog is a yeast infection, which often shows up around the ears, eyes, and especially, their paws.
Yeast Infections in Dogs & Red Paws
What’s a dog yeast infection?
Did you know that there are several types of fungus and bacteria living on your dog's skin? It's true, and the same goes for us people! When fungus levels are healthy, there's nothing to worry about, but when something gets knocked out of balance, yeast can sometimes jump on the opportunity to set up shop on your dog's skin. According to PetMD, a yeast infection is caused when usually harmless fungus found in all dogs' bodies begin to overgrow and take over. Yeast infections in dogs can be caused by damp skin, allergies, or even hormonal disorders, and are often terribly uncomfortable for pets. Luckily, treatment is available, from prescription medications to DIY natural remedies.
Does my dog have a yeast infection?
If you think your dog might have a yeast infection, you should consult your veterinarian to discuss the proper course of action. A dog yeast infection on paws may result in discomfort, dry skin, or hair loss, but too much yeast in dogs' ears can lead to loss of balance or hearing if it's left untreated. Yeast infections aren't something you'll want to ignore, and some common symptoms might help clue you in on the condition of your dog's skin.
The most common symptom of a dog yeast infection on skin or paws is a pink, reddish, or rusty color, which will usually appear between his toes. You may also notice your dog licking his feet more than usual, which many do to alleviate the uncomfortable itching that comes along with an overgrowth of yeast. Additionally, your dog's feet may begin to smell like corn chips, in what's affectionately referred to as "Frito feet," which isn't the most reliable way to tell if your dog has an infection, but can be a red flag if the odor is strong or persistent. Other signs include scratching, head shaking, flaky skin, a greasy coat, or even drooling if the yeast infection is inside of his mouth.
Dog yeast infection treatment
As with any medical condition, it's always recommended that you consult your veterinarian when diagnosing or treating any issues, in case symptoms may be a sign of something more serious. To treat a yeast infection, a doctor may prescribe a medicated soap or rinse to wash your dog's skin with, or even antibiotics in more severe cases. If you're dealing with a mild case of yeast on your dog's paws, you may be able to offer an at-home treatment in the form of a foot soak. To make one, Pet Helpful recommends mixing equal parts apple cider vinegar (which is naturally antibacterial and antifungal) and water and spraying it onto the affected areas until the redness clears up.
Your dog may improve in as little as a few days to as long as a few weeks, depending on the severity of the infection, and where it is located — paws tend to clear up a little faster than ears, or inside skin folds that don't get much air.
If your dog's fur is covered in a waxy film, Healthy Pets suggests mixing one gallon of water with a cup of hydrogen peroxide and 1-to-4 cups of vinegar, apply it to the affected area, and pat dry. The key to treating yeast infections is to make sure that the affected areas stay as dry as possible, as often as possible, which includes regular ear cleanings, thorough towel-drying, and wiping off of paws after they've contacted a wet surface.
Yeast infection prevention
It's important to understand the underlying cause of a yeast infection so that you may avoid them in the future. Often, yeast can overgrow on damp skin, such as in between a dog's toes, around nail beds, and inside ears — anywhere that moisture can become trapped. If your dog has frequent infections on her paws or ears, try drying her paws after baths or walks on wet surfaces, and clean the inside of her ears thoroughly after baths, swimming, or anytime her ears come in contact with water.
In some cases, yeast infections in dogs can be caused by an allergy. Some of these allergens can be environmental, while others can be caused by the ingredients used to make your dog's food. If you notice chronic yeast infections on your dog, talk with your veterinarian to locate the exact cause of her infection, and be sure to ask about low-carb or grain-free diets, which have been said to work wonders on many dogs with various skin conditions.