Chihuahua dog with the vet

Yeast infections in dogs require prescription medications.

© Shutterstock

Yeast infections in dogs

By Dr Jo de Klerk, BVetMed (Hons) MScTAH MRCVS Veterinarian

Updated on the

Yeast infections in dogs are fairly common, but how do you treat them? And how long does it take?

Yeast is found everywhere. It’s found in the environment, on the skin of our dogs and even on our skin. In many cases, it causes no harm. But sometimes it has an overgrowth that causes an infection. Yeast infections in dogs can be found on the skin or in the ear, and generally cause a smelly odour and itchiness. They can be easy to prevent, but not always easy to cure.

How do dogs get yeast infections?

Yeast is a normal commensal organism on your dog’s skin and in your dog’s ears, and therefore having it present doesn’t mean that there is an infection. But an overgrowth of yeast that leads to an infection is usually because of a poor immunity or an underlying allergy, which weakens the skin barrier.

How do you take care of yeast infections in dogs?

The way to care for a yeast infection in dogs depends on the location of the infection. Yeast infections can be treated both topically with shampoos or medicated ear drops, and internally with tablets or capsules. A veterinarian will be able to advise on what is the best way to care for your dog with a yeast infection.

Part of the care should not only be to treat the infection itself, but help with the comfort of your dog. Sometimes, medications are needed to reduce the itching. Other times, bathing in soothing shampoos or adding omega oils to the diet to act as natural anti-inflammatories may be all that is needed.

How do you treat yeast infections in a dog's ears?

Yeast infections in a dog's ears can be treated with medicated ear drops from a veterinarian. If it is very severe, several months of anti-fungal oral medications may be needed to treat it from the inside, in addition to the ear drops. Your dog may also need a procedure to flush the ear out with sterile saline to remove excessive discharge.

Your dog may also need steroid or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories to bring down the swelling in the ears, so that the ear drops can reach the whole ear canal. A veterinarian will be the judge of what treatment is the most appropriate for your dog, and these medications are only available from a vet.

What's the treatment for skin yeast infections in dogs?

Dog skin infections that are caused by yeast require topical, and possibly internal, anti-fungals. They will require topical medicated shampoo washes, available from a veterinarian. These washes are at their most effective when five to 10 minutes of contact time has been allowed. Oral anti-fungal medication may also be needed, depending on the severity of the infection.

There are usually underlying reasons why the skin develops a yeast infection, so these should also be treated. The most common of these is an allergy to environmental allergens or food. Diet trials and allergy testing will help to determine if allergies have a role in the development of the infection. Mite infections, known as mange, can also be an underlying cause and should be treated.

Can a dog get a yeast infection on their paws?

Yeast infections on a dog's paws are not common. Most yeast infections are on the main body or in the ears. If your dog is bothered by his paws and a vet confirms there is a yeast infection there, there might be an underlying reason, such as an allergy, which has caused the discomfort in this region.

Are yeast infections more common in dogs in the UK?

One of the most common causes of ear infections in dogs in the UK is caused by yeast. Given that yeast requires a poor skin barrier or ear canal lining to cause an infection, therefore many of these dogs have underlying environmental allergies. This is particularly common in the UK because of the high pollen counts in the summer.

What are yeast infections on a dog's belly like?

Yeast infections on the belly can look very different from case to case. Some just look like a red rash, some have brown scaling, some have oozing skin and some have very few symptoms at all. Yeast infections on the belly will require topical medicated shampoo washes, available from a veterinarian. These washes are the most effective when plenty of contact time has been allowed. If you can leave the shampoo on for five to 10 minutes before washing it off, this is ideal.

What kills yeast infestions in dogs?

There are several treatments for yeast on dogs. Shampoos containing chlorhexidine, itraconazole or ketoconazole are excellent at treating yeast infections. Ketoconazole is also available in an oral capsule. These medications are all available only from a vet. Yeast infections can take several months of treatment to fully resolve.

What treatments are there for ear yeast infections in dogs?

Dog ear infections, caused by yeast, require medicated ear drops. Most of these drops contain antifungals such as miconazole, clotrimazole, nystatin or terbinafine. These are all prescription medications and are only available from a veterinarian. Stubborn ear infections may also require oral anti-fungal medication.

All ear infections should also be accompanied by pain relief. Ear infections are extremely painful, which results in most dogs being difficult to apply the ear drops to. So pain relief should always form part of a treatment plan.

How do you get rid of yeast infections in dogs?

Yeast infections in dogs require prescription medications in topical or oral forms to treat them. Yeast is difficult to get rid of and therefore several months of treatment are often needed. These medications are all prescription strength and only available from a veterinarian.

How can you tell if your dog has a yeast infection?

You will notice that your dog has a yeast infection in his ear due to the clinical symptoms. These will include brown or yellow ear discharge or wax, redness around the opening of the ear canal, possibly thickening of the ear canal, and ear discomfort such as shaking of the head or scratching the ear. These are all similar signs to bacterial ear infections though, and therefore a veterinarian will need to make the final diagnosis.

Skin yeast infections vary in appearance. Sometimes the skin will have a red rash, sometimes it will be thickened, sometimes it will be itchy, sometimes there will be a brown scale or discharge to it and sometimes there will be relatively few symptoms.

Both yeast infections of the skin and ear have a characteristic musty smell to them, which can be likened to a wet dog smell.

Are there home remedies for yeast infections in dogs?

There are many potential home remedies for yeast infections in dogs, yet there are not many that are completely effective. Having said that, home remedies are wonderful to aid in speeding up the resolution of the problem in conjunction with medication.

A common home remedy is apple cider vinegar. This has anti-microbial properties, and can be mixed 50/50 with water in a bottle and sprayed onto the skin. Another home remedy is an oatmeal shampoo bath, as oatmeal is soothing to the skin.

Not all home remedies are safe. Some people recommend bathing dogs in hydrogen peroxide, and others recommend applying garlic to their ears and skin. Not only will these not be effective, but they are dangerous to the health of your dog.

What do you feed a dog with a yeast infection?

There is not a specific food that you should feed a dog with a yeast infection, Having said that, a high-quality diet will improve the immune function of your dog, which in turn might speed up the resolution of your dog’s yeast infection. In addition to this, omega oils help to improve the skin’s natural defences, and they also have anti-inflammatory effects, so they may help improve the infection. As with anything like this, check with a vet first.

What can I bathe my dog with a yeast infection?

A vet is likely to prescribe a medicated shampoo that will require regular bathing with. This shampoo needs to be left on for five to 10 minutes to work effectively. This will kill the yeast on the skin. If your veterinarian approves, you can also bathe your dog in a soothing shampoo, such as one containing oatmeal. But you should always enquire with a veterinarian about products to use on your dog’s skin, when they have a yeast infection, to ensure you don’t exacerbate it.

What can you not give a dog with a yeast infection?

It has been suggested that sugars can exacerbate yeast infections. As such, foods that are high in carbohydrates may worsen the infection. But if your dog is on a high-quality diet, then there should be no need to change this diet while they are recovering.

Will coconut oil help my dog's yeast infection?

Coconut oil might help with yeast infections, but this is a home remedy and will not cure the infection alone. Ingested coconut oil contains omega oils, which help build up the quality of the skin barrier and fight off the infection. Omega oils also have anti-inflammatory properties. Some dogs cannot tolerate additional fats in their diet though, as they can trigger an inflammation of the pancreas, which can be dangerous and painful. So, this should be first discussed with a vet.

Topical coconut oil may also help, as it has soothing properties. Yet it will make your dog’s skin greasy and difficult to manage with medicated shampoos, so you should also discuss this with a vet before applying it.

Does coconut oil kill yeast in dogs?

Coconut oil does not directly kill the yeast in dogs, although it does have mild antimicrobial properties. Coconut oil aids the resolution of skin infections through improving the skin’s defence barrier and providing soothing properties.

What foods can cause yeast infections in dogs?

In dogs, yeast infections are not caused by foods. But it is believed that sugary foods may exacerbate yeast infections, and therefore dog foods that are rich in carbohydrates are best to be avoided. A high-quality food is unlikely to be rich in carbohydrates though and instead should have a high protein content. So if your dog is being fed a high-quality food, then this does not need to change.

Is there a fast cure for yeast infections in dogs?

There are no fast routes to clearing a yeast infection on the skin or in the ears. It requires a lot of hard work and dedicated application of topical medications from a veterinarian.

What kills yeast infections in dogs?

There are many different medications that kill yeast infections, which are available from a vet. Topical shampoos are the best for yeast infections on the skin. Ear drops are best for yeast infections in the ear. For severe infections, these may need to be complemented by oral anti-fungals to kill the yeast.

Is cranberry juice good for a yeast infection in dogs?

Cranberry juice for dogs does not have any positive effects on yeast infections. In fact, it may actually exacerbate it due to the high sugar content.

What triggers yeast infections in dogs?

Underlying allergies are usually the trigger for skin or ear yeast infections. This is because an allergy will cause the skin or ear canal to be inflamed and compromise its defences against naturally occurring yeasts on the body.

Does drinking water help a yeast infection in a dog?

In dogs, drinking additional water does not help prevent or resolve a yeast infection, as they are not prone to yeast infections of the urinary system, like humans, where additional water and urination frequency might help.

How do you get rid of a yeast infection in a dog in 24 hours?

It’s impossible to get rid of a yeast infection within 24 hours, You'll find that the best method of getting on top a yeast infection quickly will require prescription medication from a veterinarian. So, if your dog’s skin or ears are uncomfortable, take them to a vet immediately, as the sooner they are treated, the quicker the resolution.

More advice on...

What did you think of this advice article?

Thanks for your feedback !

Thanks for your feedback !

Leave a comment
Connect to comment
Want to share this article?