- He can take a smear on your dog’s skin with a microscope slide
- He can use a piece of tape to collect samples from your dog’s skin
- He can do a skin scraping with a razor blade
- He can use a moistened cotton swab on your dog’s skin
- He can do a small skin biopsy
Dogs can exhibit many kinds of skin problems and infections. Some are serious while others may be a temporary reaction to something and nothing to worry about. When you hear the term “yeast infection,” however, you usually know that you’re dealing with something that can be significant. Yeast infections in dogs usually manifest themselves as either recurring ear infections that are very difficult to get rid of; or they can show up as one of a couple of kinds of infections plaguing your dog’s skin. In either case the situation can be serious and your poor dog may be miserable. If your dog has a chronic ear infection you may have been treating the problem in various ways. You may have even been to the veterinarian with your dog. Many vets will prescribe antibiotic ear drops for an ear infection and that’s fine, as far as it goes. It will clear up the obvious infection. But a yeast infection is often a secondary infection — a fungal infection — and antibiotics will not kill the yeast/fungus that lives deep in your dog’s ear. In order to clear up your dog’s recurring ear infection you will need a medication that kills yeast. You’ll also need to make some changes to your dog’s diet so his immune system will be more capable of fighting off yeast infections. If your dog is experiencing a rash or itching and it turns into itching, crusty, smelly skin, he probably has a yeast infection. The skin may thicken all over or in certain places to have an “elephant” appearance — grayish and flattened. Yeast is always present in your dog’s gastrointestinal tract. When your dog is healthy and his immune system is functioning properly they are not a problem. There are plenty of good bacteria in your dog’s system to keep the yeast under control and yeast serves some positive purposes in your dog’s body. One such yeast, Candida albicans, lives in your dog’s digestive tract and eats sugar and fats. However, yeast is considered to be an “opportunistic feeder.” That means that when something in your dog’s body gets out of balance, such as the balance of bacteria or your dog’s immune system, the yeast will begin proliferating. They can grow out of control and begin causing your dog’s system problems, such as itching skin. They can also result in allergies, bladder infections and ear infections. Yeast is also present on your dog’s skin, and on most surfaces around us. When your dog’s immune system is compromised it produces changes in the skin which allow the yeast to run rampant. Your dog’s skin can produce too much oil. This often happens with allergies, which go hand-in-hand with immune system problems. If your dog is showing signs of having a yeast infection — itching, crusty skin, a distinctive musty odor — your vet has several ways of confirming the problem. - He can take a smear on your dog’s skin with a microscope slide- He can use a piece of tape to collect samples from your dog’s skin- He can do a skin scraping with a razor blade- He can use a moistened cotton swab on your dog’s skin- He can do a small skin biopsy All of these methods have the same purpose. They are intended to collect yeast from your dog’s skin and identify the Malessezia pachydermatis fungus. There are several approaches to treating a yeast infection and they can be used in conjunction with each other. Your vet may prescribe antibiotics if your dog has other infections along with the yeast infection, but antibiotics will not cure the yeast infection. Instead, you will need to use a drug such as Ketoconazole or Itraconazole to treat the fungus. There are also shampoos for the outer condition. Benzoyl peroxide shampoos and sulfur/salicylate shampoos are usually effective and help remove the skin oils that feed the yeast. There are also several good anti-yeast shampoos. With yeast infections it’s very important to treat the underlying cause of the problem, otherwise the yeast will overgrow again and the infection will return. In many cases the problem is poor nutrition. If you are feeding a good quality food then your dog may have some kind of allergy to the food. If the problem is not the food then your dog may have a flea bite allergy in which his body overreacts to just one or two bites from a flea and his immune system begins to work overtime. Or, there could be some other allergy at work. But food allergies are the usual culprit and the easiest to fix. Some dogs have become allergic to some grains and common proteins found in many dog foods these days. Luckily there are many brands which now offer grain-free foods and there is a wide assortment of foods with different protein sources now. If your dog has been having yeast infections you can try some of these alternative dog foods and see if his allergic reactions improve. The most important thing to remember about yeast infections is that they don’t have a chance of bothering dogs with strong immune systems. Do your best to keep your dog’s immune system healthy with good food, sensible veterinary care, and lots of exercise and you will be less likely to have problems from yeast infections.