Dog Yeast Infections (Candida)

Dog yeast infections, or candida, can be caused by poor-quality diets, over-vaccination, and use of certain drugs. They can manifest in many different forms with a long list of symptoms. With patience and perseverance, however, dog candida can be cured using natural remedies.

Does your dog scratch and bite her skin incessantly? Is she prone to various skin irritations and problems? Does her skin give out an unpleasant odor? Is antibiotic treatment ineffective in curing the skin problems? Does she have recurring ear infections?

If you answer "yes" to these questions, there is a high chance that your dog is suffering from "dog candida" or dog yeast infections. Read on to find out more about this fungus that may wreak havoc in your dog.

What is Dog Candida?

Dog Yeast Infections Dog candidiasis, aka dog candida or dog yeast infections, is caused by a single-celled organism called Candida albicans which is classified as both a yeast and a fungus.

In a healthy dog with a normally-functioning immune system, there is a balanced level of normal flora in the body - i.e. a good balance of the "friendly bacteria" and a slight layer of naturally-occuring yeast.

Yeast overgrowth, however, occurs when a dog's immune system is out of sync. This can be due to either an under-active immune system, or an over-active immune system.

Candida is an opportunistic pathogen and the yeast tends to take advantage of a dog with a weak, under-active immune system because the system is unable to control and kill off the yeast.

A dog with an over-active immune system (e.g. a dog prone to allergies), on the other hand, is also prone to yeast overgrowth, mainly because such dogs are often given steroids to suppress their over-active immune system. In the long run, this will weaken the immune system to a point where it no longer can keep the opportunistic yeast in check.

Once there is an over-abundance of candida in the dog's body, it will create a vicious cycle - candida cells manufacture toxic chemicals that kill beneficial bacteria and harm the body.

In addition, waste products produced by candida are toxic chemicals that can slow the brain, causing fatigue and disrupting the immune system.

The end result? A systemic yeast infection in the dog.

If timely action is not taken to kill off the single-celled candida, it can convert into a multi-celled fungal form called rhizoids. These rhizoids can extend and go through intestinal walls, diminishing the ability of the intestines to absorb nutrients (such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids).

This results in nutritional deficiencies and a GI problem called "leaky gut syndrome", whereby bacteria, toxins, and undigested food "leak" through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream.

This can cause numerous health problems, including inflammation, chronic infections, and allergies (food allergy, atopic dermatitis).

Symptoms of Dog Yeast Infections

One distinct sign of dogs having a yeast infection is they give out a "musty, moldy-bread" smell.

Another sign of dog yeast infections is intense itching, causing the dog to constantly scratch, chew, lick, and bite the skin. The dog may also scoot on the floor.

Other signs of dog yeast infections look very much like skin irritations and allergies, with symptoms such as:

  • recurring hot spots
  • hives
  • eczema
  • hair loss
  • redness or skin rashes, especially on the feet, face, tummy, underarm, or genital areas
  • dry and flaky skin, sometimes the skin may turn black or discolored
  • itching eyes
  • red, irritated eyes
  • excessive tearing
  • coughing
  • bouts of asthma attacks
  • frequent sneezing
  • abnormal nasal discharge

Dog yeast infections may also manifest themselves as:

  • ear infections
  • urinary tract infections
  • bladder infections
  • food allergies
  • GI problems, such as bloating and gas, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, etc.
  • bad breath
  • anal sac problems
  • joint pain
  • malnutrition due to inability to absorb sufficient nutrients
  • fatigue and lethargy

With so many symptoms mimicking so many different dog diseases, you can imagine that sometimes even veterinarians may misdiagnose a case of dog yeast infection as something else.

Very often, the secondary disease caused by the yeast infection (e.g. urinary infection) will be diagnosed, but the root cause (i.e. the yeast infection) will not.

As such, localized treatment is given to cure the secondary disease (in this case, urinary infection) without addressing the underlying root cause.

If your dog unfortunately suffers from recurring infections (be it skin, ear, or others) or has allergies (skin or food) that do not seem to go away, candida may be the culprit.

Download this checklist to help diagnose your dog's yeast infection.

Possible Causes of Dog Yeast Infections

There are many possibilities that can result in an over-abundance of candida albicans. The most common causes are listed below:

Improper Diet

  • A poor quality diet with insufficient supplements such as probiotics (friendly bacteria) to metabolize sugars (food source for yeast) will result in an overgrowth of candida.
  • Insufficient dietary enzymes to clean out the toxins from the body will also result in dog yeast infections.
  • A grain-based diet (first ingredient is grains) will increase sugars in the digestive tract - food supply for candida.

Use of Certain Medication

  • Use of antibiotics - these drugs can kill off beneficial bacteria in the dog's body.
  • Use of flea chemicals - these chemicals can result in a compromised immune system making it easy for candida to thrive.
  • Over-vaccinations - over-vaccinations can result in a compromised immune system making it easy for candida to thrive.

Physical Health Problems

  • Thyroid problems (hypothyroidism) - many holistic vets (and doctors for people too) believe that there is a direct connection between thyroid problems and yeast infections.
  • Other illnesses that compromise the immune system can also make it easy for the candida population to grow.
  • Yeast allergy - Some dogs can also develop an allergic reaction to the naturally-occuring yeast in their bodies.

    In other words, the immune systems of these dogs attack their own natural flora. When this happens, usually the allergic reaction occurs from head to toe - the dog will be red and itchy from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail!

Mental Health Problems

  • Hyperactivity.
  • Stress and anxiety caused by environmental and seasonal changes, as well as emotional and physical changes in the dog.

Diagnosis and Conventional Treatment

Your vet can determine whether your dog has yeast by either cytology (looking at a skin swap under the microscope) or by culture.

Conventional treatment for dog candida usually uses antifungal medications to clear up the infections and related symptoms.

Unfortunately, many such antifungal drugs have potentially serious side effects. Worse still, these drugs only deal with the symptoms without actually addressing the root cause. Before long, there will be another flare-up, very often with worsening sets of symptoms.

Holistic approach to treat yeast infections in dogs is to deal with the yeast growth topically using natural remedies such as essential oils, and to use herbs and other supplements internally to strengthen the dog's immune system and balance the GI flora.

Topical Control of Yeast Growth

Dog Yeast Infections Many holistic veterinarians recommend using natural remedies to control and treat dog yeast infections, both topically and internally.

Topical control of yeast overgrowth involves removing layers of dead yeast from the body, disinfecting the "yeasty" parts of the dog's body, and controlling yeast growth on the body. This can be done as follows:

  • Disinfecting the "Yeasty" Parts: Yeast thrives in moist and dark areas such as crevices (ideal places - the "armpits", groin area, under the tail, inside the ears), so be vigilant and disinfect these affected areas.

    For example, if your dog has yeasty ears, you need to clean the debris in his ears regularly (3-4 times a week or even every day, depending on the amount of "gunk" produced in the ears).

    Handy Ear Wipes

    These wipes contain Lemon, Calendula (Marigold), Aloe Vera, and Green Tea are pre-moistened with an all-natural botanical blend for safe, yet effective cleaning.

    For other yeasty body parts, make a solution by mixing a gallon of water with one cup of hydrogen peroxide, and one cup of white vinegar.

    Use this solution as a wipe to disinfect the yeasty parts. You can also use this solution as a foot soak if your dog has yeasty paws. After wiping and soaking, just pat dry the areas.

  • Bathing the Dog: It is important to keep washing off the layers of dead yeast from the dog. If you use a natural shampoo, washing the dog frequently will not dry out the skin.

    However, DO NOT use a shampoo that contains oatmeal (oatmeal is a grain so it is a food source for yeast). Use a natural anti-fungal shampoo that contains tea tree oil such as this Earthbath All Natural Pet Shampoo.

  • Rinsing the Dog: After bathing the dog, use a natural rinse to further prevent yeast growth.

    Make a rinse by mixing one gallon of water with one cup of white vinegar and 10 drops of peppermint essential oil and 10 drops of Sweet Marjoram essential oil. Pour the rinse from the neck down (avoid the head and eye areas). Rub the rinse into the hair and skin, particularly areas such as the armpits, feet, groin, and around the tail. Leave the rinse on and towel dry the dog.

    Use this rinse 1-3 times a week.

  • Check Out GSE: Grapefruit seed extract is also an effective agent to help treat yeasty paws and fungal infections in dogs. Check out more information from this page.


Natural Dog Candida Remedies

To learn how to control yeast internally, be sure to visit this page.