How do you treat fungal dermatitis in dogs? Here’s What to Expect

What are the clinical signs of a yeast skin infection?

The most common clinical signs of yeast dermatitis are:

  • itching and redness
  • musty odor
  • scales and crusty, flaky skin
  • thickened skin (elephant skin)
  • hyperpigmentation (darkly pigmented skin)
  • chronic or recurrent otitis externa or ear infectionsdos
  • How does a dog get a yeast skin infection?

    The skin is host to innumerable bacteria and fungi. Under normal circumstances, these organisms do not cause a problem and are kept under control by the immune system. If conditions on the skin change or if the immune system is suppressed, these bacteria and fungi can cause infection. These types of infections are termed opportunistic infections. If the number of yeast organisms on the skin increase, a yeast skin infection results.

    A common cause of a yeast skin infection is an increase in the amount of oils produced on the skin. This is most frequently associated with allergic skin disease. Another common cause of excess skin oils is seborrhea oleosa (see handout “Seborrhea in Dogs” for information on this condition).

    Some dogs have an immune deficiency making them ineffective at fighting yeast infections resulting in chronic infection. Dogs that receive immunosuppressive drugs such as corticosteroids (steroids) may also be unable to effectively prevent yeast infections, so may develop a chronic yeast infection.

    Yeast dermatitis is not contagious; your dog did not get this infection from another dog. Opportunistic yeast infections often recur unless the underlying allergy or skin condition is controlled.

    There are certain breeds thought to be genetically predisposed to developing yeast infections. These breeds include West Highland White Terrier, Basset Hound, Cocker Spaniel, Silky Terrier, Australian Terrier, Maltese Terrier, Chihuahua, Poodle, Shetland Sheepdog, Lhasa Apso, and Dachshund.

    Some dogs develop a hypersensitivity to yeast, becoming allergic to an organism they are exposed to all the time. Those dogs have an intense, inflammatory reaction but only a few yeast present on their skin. They will often have frequent recurrences of yeast dermatitis, some starting shortly after treatment is discontinued.

    There are several techniques used to collect samples for diagnosing yeast dermatitis:yeast_dermatitis_samples_collections_2018-01

  • Skin scraping – scraping the skin with a dull blade to collect yeast organisms
  • Impression smear – pressing a microscope slide on the skin to collect yeast organisms.
  • Cotton swab sample – rubbing a moistened swab on the skin to collect yeast organisms.
  • Acetate tape preparations – applying a piece of clear tape to the skin to collect yeast organisms.
  • Skin biopsy – obtaining a small piece of skin with a biopsy punch. This is the most invasive diagnostic test, but provides the most complete diagnostic information. This is sent to a veterinary pathologist for examination
  • Most samples can be examined in-clinic under a microscope by a veterinarian or veterinary technician.

    If yeast hypersensitivity is suspected, your veterinarian or dermatologist may recommend running blood and/or skin tests to confirm this diagnosis.

    Treatment for yeast dermatitis may be topical, oral, or a combination of both, and is based on the severity of your dogs condition.

    Topical treatment. Treatment with medicated shampoos is a vital part of treating yeast dermatitis. Many dogs with greasy or oily skin will require an initial ‘degreasing’ cleansing with a shampoo containing selenium sulfide or benzoyl peroxide. After the initial bathing is complete, bathing with an anti-fungal shampoo containing chlorhexidine, miconazole, or ketoconazole is performed. It is important the anti-fungal shampoo remain in contact with the skin for at least ten minutes. To be effective, this topical treatment is required every 3-5 days for two to twelve weeks. If the infection is in the ears or in only one or two spots on the skin, a topical ointment may be prescribed for daily use.

    Oral treatment. In more severe, chronic, or persistent cases of yeast dermatitis, the use of oral or systemic anti-fungal medications is often required. Many dogs with yeast dermatitis will also have a bacterial skin infection (pyoderma) and will require antibiotics to treat the bacterial infection for typically four to twelve weeks. Oral anti-fungal medications include ketoconazole, terbinafine, itraconazole, and fluconazole.

    Although these medications are highly effective, they must be given for prolonged periods of time (often several months). Because these drugs have potential side effects, particularly involving the liver, close monitoring with routine blood tests is necessary. If the dog has a relapse of the fungal infection after an initial successful treatment, a higher dose of the antifungal medication will usually be required. Most dogs with advanced or chronic yeast dermatitis are treated with a combination of oral and topical treatment.

    Affected dogs may also need medications such as corticosteroids (prednisone), cyclosporine (Atopica), Apoquel, Cytopoint) to relieve inflammation and itch while the anti-fungal therapy is taking effect.

    Dogs with yeast hypersensitivity will often have better control of their disease by using immunotherapy. This is used to try to reprogram the dog’s immune system so it does not overreact to this naturally occurring yeast. The treatment may be given by injection under the skin or by oral administration.

    Causes of Yeast Dog Dermatitis & Yeast Ear Infections

    Yeast, bacteria and fungi occur naturally on your dogs skin, but under normal circumstances, they dont lead to health issues. Nonetheless, if something causes your dogs skin condition to change or their immune system to become less effective opportunistic yeast infections can result.

    A few of the most common causes of yeast dermatitis and ear infections in dogs include:

  • An underactive or overreactive immune system
  • Allergens (smoke, mold, dust, dander, cleaning products, etc.)
  • Foods high in sugar and carbs
  • Heat and humidity
  • Poor hygiene
  • Trapped moisture in skin folds, ears, or paw pads
  • Frequent bathing (ear yeast infections)
  • Swimming (ear yeast infections)
  • Trapped object in the ear, ear wax, or discharge (ear yeast infections)
  • Various ear drops (ear yeast infection)
  • How To Recognize And Treat A Fungal Infection In Dogs (And What You Can Do To Help Your Dog Recover)

    You have probably heard of fungal infections affecting humans, but it may surprise you to learn that they are also prevalent among animals, including your canine best pal.

    Fungal infections get their name from the fact that they are caused by different types of fungi. They tend to get divided into groups depending on which type of fungus is involved. Some fungal infections are systemic, meaning that they affect your dog’s internal organs, while others are localized and affect small areas of skin.

    Fungal infections occur when fungal spores that your dog has come into contact with in the environment enter his body. This is normally via inhalation into his respiratory system, or via his skin.

    Dog fungal infections are extremely common and there are numerous different types that can affect your furbaby. Which variety he has will also affect his symptoms and which treatment will be most effective.

    Blastomycosis is a systemic fungal infection and the fungus that causes it is usually found in wet soil, rotting wood and bird droppings. For this reason, this type of fungal infection is more commonly seen in dogs who spend a great deal of time in boggy areas or damp woodland.

    Also a systemic fungal infection, cryptococcosis is contracted via inhaling spores. However, most healthy animals do not become ill from this fungus. Instead, it affects those with already weak immune systems and other underlying health problems.

    While cryptococcosis can be treated with medication, as it tends to affect dogs who are already unwell, the likelihood of a full recovery is questionable. As with most treatments, the sooner medication is started, the more likely your dog will make a successful recovery.

    Similar to cryptococcosis, nasal aspergillosis is a systemic fungal infection that tends to only affect canines whose health is already compromised in some way. The spores can be found in dust, hay, straw and grass clippings.

    Nasal aspergillosis can be treated either nasally or orally, and many pets make a reasonably full recovery.

    Also seen in humans, many people assume ringworm to be a worm-based parasite. However, it is actually a fungal infection that is localized on the skin and nails. The fungus that causes ringworm – dermatophytosis – can live on skin, hard surfaces, clothes and soft furnishings.

    Ringworm is characterized by a red, circular-shaped lesion that is also itchy or sore. Topical anti-fungal ointments and shampoos can be very effective in treating the condition, although your vet may also recommend that your pet takes a course of oral medication.

    If you wish to avoid it spreading to the humans in your family, you will need to do a thorough job of cleaning and disinfecting the majority of surfaces and furnishings in your home. Most dogs (and humans!) make a complete recovery from a ringworm infection.

    Most of us are relatively common with yeast infections, which are caused when the naturally-occurring yeast on our bodies begins to multiply uncontrollably. Dogs are just as prone to yeast infections as humans are, although some canines suffer from chronic, repetitive cases.

    Again, yeast infections are completely treatable, and your vet will probably recommend a combination of topical medications including ointments and shampoos. In some instances, oral medication may also be necessary.

    If you think that your dog might be suffering from a fungal infection, you should make an appointment with our veterinarian who can assess your pet’s condition and get him started with the most relevant treatment.