PET CARE

Yeast Infections in Dogs: Symptoms & Treatment 

Four Minutes
Sep 05, 2023

Have you noticed your pup constantly scratching the same patch of skin? It could mean they’re dealing with a yeast infection. Also called yeast dermatitis, it’s one of the most common skin conditions among dogs. So how do yeast infections happen, and what can you do to treat them? Keep reading to find out.

What Causes Yeast Infections in Dogs?

A fungus called Malassezia pachydermatis is responsible for causing yeast infections in dogs.1 This fungus is one of many microorganisms normally found on a dog’s skin, and it usually doesn’t cause a problem. But dogs with weakened immune systems or skin allergies can be more at risk of developing yeast infections. A weakened immune system can’t keep the amount of Malassezia pachydermatis on the dog’s skin in check, so the fungus quickly multiplies — resulting in an infection.

Dogs with skin allergies can also develop yeast infections. Many skin allergies can cause an increase in oil production, creating an environment suitable for Malassezia pachydermatis to thrive. It’s also possible for dogs to be allergic to yeast. These dogs experience skin inflammation even when the amount of yeast present is low.

Whatever the cause, it’s important to note that dog yeast infections aren’t contagious.1 There’s no need to worry about your pup spreading it to your other pets or their doggie playmates.

Symptoms of Dog Yeast Infections

Yeast infections in dogs can be easy to spot. There are a number of common symptoms to look out for, including:1

  • Persistent scratching
  • Red or dark patches on the skin
  • Flakey skin
  • Musty odor
  • Thickened skin patches
  • Frequent ear infections or outer swelling of the ear canal

It’s also important to know where to look for these symptoms. Certain parts of your dog’s body may be more prone to infection than others, leading to common types of yeast dermatitis.

  • Ears: A dog ear yeast infection can usually be recognized by inflammation in or around the ear, as well as other signs of an ear infection — like discharge, scabs from constant scratching, and bad odor.2
  • Paws: Paws are good at trapping moisture, which can make them especially susceptible to infection. A dog paw yeast infection may be recognized by reddened skin on the paw pads, hair loss, or discharge from the nail beds.2
  • Stomach: Yeast infections typically affect areas of exposed skin, and for many dogs, this can mean their belly. Spotting a yeast infection rash on a dog’s belly may be easier compared to the ears or paws. Look for red patches, dark spots, and flakey skin.1

It’s a good idea to bring dogs with these symptoms to the vet for diagnosis. This may involve a skin swab or scraping, or a biopsy. Most diagnoses can be made at the clinic during your visit.

Is a Costly Dog Itch a Concern?

Pet Insurance Can Help

How serious is a dog yeast infection?

Yeast infections are rarely life-threatening and can usually be remedied within a few weeks or a few months of treatment. Relapses are possible, which may require regular rounds of treatment multiple times a year.1

A yeast infection could also indicate a more serious underlying condition. Dogs with yeast infections from compromised immune systems are at risk of more serious infections. Even if that never happens, a yeast infection is very uncomfortable for your pooch. The sooner you start treatment, the sooner your dog can return to their normal, happy self.

Treating Yeast Infections in Dogs

Most dog yeast infection treatments include the use of topical medication. Ointments, creams, and special shampoos are an essential part of dealing with the infection. Your vet may recommend a bath regiment of once every 3 – 5 days for at least 2 weeks, or as long as 12 weeks.1 A typical bath for treating yeast infections in dogs may look something like this:

  1. Apply a shampoo containing selenium sulfide or benzoyl peroxide to reduce the oils on your dog’s skin.
  2. Rinse.
  3. Apply anti-fungal shampoo containing chlorhexidine, ketoconazole, or miconazole. Leave it on your dog’s skin for at least 10 minutes.
  4. Rinse.

In more severe cases of dog yeast infections, your vet may also prescribe oral medication. Anti-fungal medications — like terbinafine, ketoconazole, fluconazole, and itraconazole — are administered to combat the yeast infection, as well as any secondary bacterial infections your dog might develop.1

Your vet may also want to treat the underlying cause of the yeast infection. Depending on your dog’s circumstances, this could include immunotherapy to reduce their sensitivity to naturally occurring yeast.

Treatment side effects

Because oral medications for severe yeast infections are usually given over a period of several months, it’s important to keep an eye out for the potential side effects of these drugs. Most notably, anti-fungal medication can impact your dog’s liver function.1 Symptoms of this may include changes in your dog’s appetite, tongue color, or seizures.

What Breeds Are Prone to Yeast Dermatitis in Dogs?

Although any dog can develop a yeast infection, some breeds are more vulnerable than others. This is usually due to a genetic predisposition in certain breeds, including:1

Does Pet Insurance Cover Dog Yeast Infections?

Treating your dog’s yeast infection is important, but the costs can add up. When you factor in the bills for the exam, diagnostic tests, specialty shampoos, and medication, treating yeast infections in dogs can cost $500.3 If your dog relapses multiple times a year, these expenses only increase.

That’s why it can be a good idea to enroll in dog insurance while your pup is still healthy. You can be reimbursed for exam fees and prescription medication expenses — among other things — when your dog needs treatment. Don’t wait until after a diagnosis to get your dog covered. Start today with a free personalized quote from MetLife Pet Insurance.

Help Your Pet Feel Better 

**As with any insurance policy, coverage may vary. Review our coverage and exclusions.

1 “Yeast Dermatitis in Dogs,” VCA Animal Hospitals

2 “Yeast Infections in Dogs: What to Know,” American Kennel Club

3 “Thrush Treatments in Dogs,” Wag Walking

Coverage issued by Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, and Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 11333 N Scottsdale Rd, Ste 160, Scottsdale, AZ 85454. Coverage subject to restrictions, exclusions and limitations and application is subject to underwriting. See policy or contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC (“MetLife Pet”) for details. MetLife Pet is the policy administrator. It may operate under an alternate or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota) and MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois).

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