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  • Bear & Kind with Erin Follington

5 Ways to Treat Your Dog's Yeast Infection Naturally

 


Does your dog have red and inflamed paws due to constant chewing? Is he suffering from recurring ear infections? Does he smell like a freshly opened bag of corn chips? As pet parents, few things are more distressing than seeing our furry companions itchy and miserable due to a yeast infection. It can present as itchy ears, paws, and skin folds, causing redness, irritation, and a lot of discomfort.


While there’s certainly no shortage of conventional treatments on the market to treat yeast infections, many contain chemicals and irritants that can lead to additional health issues. Fortunately, there is a growing number of natural remedies available to relieve symptoms and get the yeast beast under control.


 

Causes of Yeast Infections in Dogs


A yeast infection in dogs, also known as Malassezia dermatitis, is a fungal infection caused by the overgrowth of the yeast species Malassezia pachydermatis. This yeast normally lives on the skin and in the ears of dogs without causing any issues. However, when the balance of the skin flora is disrupted, the yeast can multiply excessively and lead to an infection. The most common causes of yeast infections are as follows:


Allergies (Food or Environmental)


Dogs with allergies, whether to certain foods or environmental allergens such as pollen or dust mites are more prone to yeast infections. Allergic reactions weaken the skin’s natural barrier, creating an environment conducive to yeast overgrowth.


It’s important to identify any allergies that your dog might have to minimise exposure and reduce flare ups. Talk to your vet about allergy testing or you can purchase an intolerance test from Easy DNA which will test a sample of your dog’s fur against almost 200 triggers.


Poor Diet


Diets high in carbohydrates, sugars, and highly processed ingredients can elevate blood sugar levels in dogs. This creates an ideal environment for Malassezia yeast to thrive, leading to infections. Commercial dog foods full of carbohydrates, cheap fillers and additives often contribute to this imbalance.


Moisture and Warmth


Areas of the dog’s body that are warm and moist are particularly susceptible to yeast infections. Common sites include skin folds, ears (especially in floppy-eared breeds), and paws. Excessive moisture due to swimming, rain, or inadequate drying after baths can exacerbate the problem.


Underlying Health Conditions


Dogs with compromised immune systems caused by conditions including Leaky Gut, hormonal imbalances such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease and dogs on long-term antibiotic therapy are at higher risk for yeast infections. These conditions alter the body’s natural defences against fungal overgrowth.


Contact with Infected Dogs


Yeast infections can be contagious between dogs. Direct contact with an infected dog or sharing items like bedding, grooming tools, or toys can spread Malassezia yeast, especially if a dog’s immune system is already compromised.


Environmental Factors


Living in humid climates or environments where there is poor air circulation can promote yeast growth on a dog’s skin. Additionally, inadequate grooming practices that lead to buildup of dirt, oils, and dead skin cells can create an environment where yeast thrives.


 

Common Symptoms of Yeast Infections


Symptoms will vary a little from dog to dog but the most common are generally easy to spot. They include:


Itching and Scratching


Persistent scratching, licking, or chewing, especially in areas like ears, paws, groin, armpits, and skin folds.


Redness and Inflammation


Red, irritated skin that may appear swollen or warm to the touch. The affected area can sometimes develop a rash-like appearance.


Odour


A distinct yeasty or musty odour emanating from the affected areas. This odour is often noticeable, especially in the ears or between skin folds.


Discharge


Oily or greasy discharge from the ears or skin folds, sometimes accompanied by a darkening of the skin due to chronic irritation.


Hair Loss


Hair loss or thinning in areas where the yeast infection is severe or long-standing. This can occur due to the dog's excessive scratching or licking.


Head Shaking (Ear Infections)


Excessive head shaking or tilting of the head, particularly if the yeast infection is localized in the ears. This is often accompanied by redness and wax buildup.


Behavioural Changes


Changes in behaviour such as irritability, restlessness, or decreased activity due to discomfort caused by itching and irritation.


Secondary Infections


In severe cases or if left untreated, yeast infections can lead to secondary bacterial infections. Symptoms may include pus-filled lesions, increased redness, and more severe discomfort.


 

5 Ways to Treat Yeast Infections Naturally


1.     Fresh Balanced Diet


A balanced diet rich in protein from sources like lean meats and fish, healthy fats and fibre from vegetables is by far your dog’s best defence. Just be wary of feeding grains like oats and fruits with high sugar content including bananas and berries as both will feed yeast.


Reduce your dog’s intake of carbohydrates and sugars, which can fuel yeast growth. Kibble contains between 37 and 74% carbohydrates on average and should be avoided. Grain-free kibble contains fillers including potato, corn, peas and other starches and sugars which can also feed yeast.


Adding omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oil, hemp seed or flaxseed oils or fatty fish such as salmon or sardines to your dog’s diet can help reduce inflammation and support skin health, potentially reducing the severity of yeast infections.


Foods like ginger, oregano, apple cider vinegar and fresh garlic (in moderation) have natural antifungal properties that can help combat yeast overgrowth.


Adding coconut oil to meals daily can also help to combat yeast. Coconut oil contains Caprylic Acid, a medium chain triglyceride (MCT) which can directly treat some yeast infections. MCT oil can cause diarrhea in your dog if you give too much too soon so start slowly and work your way up. Try starting at a quarter tsp for large and medium sized dogs.

 

2.     Supplements


Supplementing your dog’s diet with probiotics can promote a healthy balance of gut flora, which in turn supports a strong immune system and helps prevent yeast overgrowth. An increase in beneficial bacteria in the gut stimulates the production of immune cells and signalling molecules that help fight off infections, including those caused by yeast.


Gut Restore is designed to heal the gut wall, boost immunity, kill yeast and repopulate the gut with 'good' bacteria. The yeast support kills of yeast from nose to tail and everywhere in-between.

 


3.     Herbal Remedies


Herbs can be an effective part of a holistic approach to preventing and treating yeast infections in dogs. They often work by supporting the immune system, directly inhibiting yeast growth, and promoting overall health.


Herbs such as thyme, oregano, and goldenseal contain antifungal properties and support the immune system, while calendula and aloe vera soothe irritation and reduce inflammation.


Yeast Support is a herbal remedy formulated to eliminate yeast and enhance immunity. It contains a blend of high strength herbal medicines scientifically proven to eradicate yeast, targeting infection in the skin, ears and gut.  


4.     Avoid Allergens


If your dog has allergies or sensitivities to any foods or environmental allergies such as grasses or pollen, it’s important to reduce exposure as much as possible to limit reactivity. Treating fleas is also a must to reduce skin irritation, especially if your dog is allergic to flea saliva.


5.     Topical Treatments


Regular baths or soaking infected paws with calendula or chamomile can soothe irritated skin and discourage yeast growth. You can also add a splash of apple cider vinegar and coconut oil to the mix to reduce itching and reduce yeast. For best results follow with a soothing balm or some coconut oil applied to irritated skin and paws.




Bear + Kind’s Sit Stay Heal Ouchie Balm contains organic calendula, comfrey and hemp seed oil to fight off yeast, soothe itching and prevent secondary infection.



If your dog suffers from recurring ear infections try cleaning the ears with a 50/50 mix of apple cider vinegar and chamomile or calendula tea using a cotton pad. If your dog has broken skin around the ear canal, swap out the vinegar for coconut oil. Use the mixture to gently remove excess wax and debris around the entrance to the ear canal. Never place anything inside the ear canal.


Natural skin sprays can also reduce irritation between baths and help to resolve yeast infections. Natural Pet Supplements’ Skin Soothing Spray contains a powerhouse of herbs to make the skin incompatible with colonization of yeast and soothes itching. 



Managing and preventing yeast infections in dogs doesn’t necessarily require harsh chemicals or medications. By leveraging the power of natural remedies such as dietary adjustments, topical treatments, and supplements, you can effectively support your dog’s immune system and maintain a healthy balance to ward off yeast overgrowth.


You can take proactive steps today to evaluate your dog’s diet and lifestyle, considering natural alternatives that not only address current yeast infections but also help prevent future occurrences.


Keep in mind that like many health issues, resolving yeast infections is a marathon, not a sprint. Although symptoms present as skin irritation and ear infections, it is fundamentally an immune and gut health issue. Preventing and managing yeast infections requires healing the gut, identifying allergies/intolerances in foods, environmental allergens and regulating immunity.


Remember, every dog is unique, so it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian before making significant changes to your dog’s care routine.



Erin Follington is a practising Small Animal Naturopath in WA and owner of Natural Pet Supplements. The Natural Pet Supplements range of products reflects Erin’s ongoing commitment to pet wellness, combining herbal medicine and nutrition to create exceptional quality supplements for Dogs and Cats. 

 

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