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How to Treat Yeast Infections in Dogs

A yeast infection (yeast dermatitis) is a common cause of skin disease in dogs that can cause a great deal of discomfort for your pet. Our Farmington Hills vets explain the causes, signs, and treatments of yeast infections in dogs.

Yeast Infection in Dogs

Malassezia is a type of yeast that naturally lives on a dog's skin, ears, and anal sacs. It is normally kept in check by a healthy immune system, but if not, then the yeast grows out of control irritating the skin and causing yeast dermatitis (inflammation of the skin). 

Causes of a Yeast Infection

A yeast infection can be caused by something that lowers the immune system response or disrupts the skin's natural balance, causing the yeast to multiply and spread.

Below are some of the common causes of yeast infections in dogs.

Steroid Medications

Vets often treat dogs with autoimmune disorders and allergies by prescribing steroid medications. These conditions are an overreaction of the immune system. Steroids suppress the immune system, making dogs more susceptible to yeast infections because their immune systems are less able to fight off germs.


The most common cause of a dog yeast infection is because of allergies to fleas, food, or substances in their environment. Allergies can lead to skin irritation and make skin more oily. Some dogs can develop an allergic reaction to the yeast itself.


Good bacteria are also naturally present on the skin. They help keep yeast levels in balance. Antibiotics wipe out all bacteria, both good and bad. Without bacteria present, yeast numbers can rise out of control.

Underlying Medical Conditions

Some medical conditions like diabetes and seborrhea oleosa (an overproduction of oil on skin) provide an environment that promotes yeast overgrowth. 

Although any dog can contract a yeast infection, some dog breeds are more prone to yeast infections than others. These breeds include:

  • Poodles
  • Basset Hounds
  • Shetland Sheepdogs
  • Shih Tzus
  • Spaniels
  • Chihuahuas
  • Dachshunds
  • Terriers
  • Lhasa Apsos
  • West Highland White Terriers

Symptoms of a Dog Yeast Infection

Constant itching and scratching are prominent signs that your dog may have a yeast infection. Other signs that your pup has or is developing a yeast infection may include:

  • Red, irritated skin, or rash
  • Sores from scratching
  • Rubbing their body against furniture
  • Scooting their butt along the carpet (common with anal gland issues)
  • Biting an area (along with scratching and licking)
  • Shaking their head vigorously
  • Tilting their head
  • Crusty lesions on the skin
  • Brown discoloration of nails
  • Smelly odor
  • Discharge from ears
  • Darkening or thickening skin (may look like elephant skin)

Treatment for Yeast Infections in Dogs

For mild cases of yeast infections, your vet may prescribe a topical treatment in the form of an ointment, shampoo, lotion, spray, or wipe. If the infection is too severe or widespread throughout the body, a topical treatment may not be enough.

Alternatively, if your vet doesn't think a topical treatment will suffice, an oral anti-fungal pill can be prescribed to treat your pup's yeast infection.

In either case, treatment should take care of the infection in about a week or so. Your vet may also provide an anti-itch medication in the meantime to help deal with your dog's discomfort.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog is showing signs of a yeast infection, contact our Farmington Hills vets today to schedule an examination for your canine companion.

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