What Is A Yeast Infection In Dogs?

Here's how to help your dog if he has a yeast infection 💞

dog yeast infection

As gross as it may sound, yeast infections are actually pretty common in dogs. Basically, a yeast infection in dogs is what happens when there’s an excessive amount of the Malassezia fungus on your pup, which can be super uncomfortable.

But if your dog develops a yeast infection, you don’t have to panic.

We spoke with Dr. Sara Ochoa, a small- and exotic-animal veterinarian in Texas and a veterinary consultant for DogLab, to find out everything you need to know about dog yeast infections, including causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention.

Types of yeast infections in dogs

There are a few different types of yeast infections in dogs, based on the infected area.

“Dogs can commonly get yeast infections in their ears, on their skin or between their feet,” Dr. Ochoa told The Dodo.

Dog ear yeast infection

A dog ear yeast infection is one that happens inside his ear. This type of infection usually occurs in just the outer ear, but if it goes untreated, it can spread to the middle and inner ear, too, and could lead to a ruptured eardrum or even hearing loss and deafness. If your dog has a yeast infection in his ear, you might catch him shaking his head quite a bit.

Dog skin yeast infection

A dog skin yeast infection can occur pretty much anywhere on your dog’s skin — that means wrinkles and folds are fair game.

“Dogs with skin yeast infections will have hair loss and flaky skin,” Dr. Ochoa said.

Dog paw yeast infection

A dog paw yeast infection can develop on your pup’s feet. This usually happens on his paw pads, but it can also get in between his toes or anywhere else on his paws. Dog paw yeast infections can also lead to the “Fritos feet” phenomenon, which is when your dog’s feet literally smell like Fritos.

What causes yeast infections in dogs?

Yeast is found naturally on your dog’s skin and in his ears, but usually his immune system will restrict those numbers of yeast to a healthy amount.

External factors can lead to an overgrowth of yeast, like if your dog gets too much moisture on his skin, on his paws or in his ears.

“Yeast infections are caused by your dog scratching at their skin or licking their paws,” Dr. Ochoa said. “This causes damage to the skin, and the moisture from them licking sets up the perfect environment for yeast to take over.”

And when it comes to your dog’s ears, taking a bath or going for a swim can ultimately lead to a yeast infection if water gets stuck in his ears.

But excessive moisture isn’t the only cause of yeast infections in dogs. Allergies can also be the culprit.

Dog yeast infection symptoms

Symptoms of dog yeast infections are pretty similar no matter the location, and include things like:

  • Itchy, flaky skin
  • Redness
  • Musty, corn chip odor
  • Brown discharge

How to treat a yeast infection in dogs

To treat your dog’s yeast infection, you should bring your pup to the vet. That’s because the symptoms your dog shows could be the result of a different condition entirely, like atopic dermatitis, for example.

So, your vet will be able to determine if it is, in fact, a yeast infection that’s causing problems for your pup. And if it is, they can identify and treat the underlying cause. A vet will also be able to prescribe the proper medication to clear up the issue.

“They can prescribe antifungal shampoo to help too,” Dr. Ochoa said.

How to prevent yeast infections in dogs

The best way to prevent a yeast infection in your dog is to make sure you’re staying on top of any potential underlying causes. So if your pup has allergies, you should treat any symptoms or reactions as they arise.

And when you give your dog a bath or take him swimming, remember to dry his ears off to get rid of any extra moisture. Plus, when you bring your dog in from a walk, wiping off his paws would be a good way to make sure any extra water or irritants aren’t getting trapped between his toes or on his pads.

If your dog gets a yeast infection, don’t stress too much about it. Bringing him to the vet will help you figure out what caused it in the first place and get him the treatment he needs.