Fungal and Yeast Infections in Dogs
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Skin diseases are common in dogs, and many such diseases fall into one of three categories: Fungal infections, yeast infections or fungus/yeast infections. These are almost never fatal, but they are sometimes chronic - so it's wise to keep an eye out for symptoms that may indicate your dog is infected.
Candida Albicans is a fungus/yeast and a common microorganism that lives in the gut of a humans and dogs. But when there is an "overgrowth" of this fungus/yeast in the gut, it is called a Systemic Yeast Infection, and it affects the health and well-being of the whole animal or human.
When the pH balance of the gut is out of balance, and beneficial bacteria in the gut have been destroyed, this insidious fungus and pathogenic bacteria can take over and the negative results are very detrimental to our health and well-being. One of those by products of a pH imbalance in the gut is bloat/torsion.
What causes the pH balance of the gut to be out of balance and cause fungus/yeast overgrowth?
• Overuse of antibiotics - killing off good bacteria in the gut
• Poor Nutrition (inadequate protein, too many carbohydrates, no probiotics, digestive enzymes, dietary enzymes, unusable minerals)
• Over vaccinations (i.e. allergies, thyroid problems)
• Thyroid problems = metabolic problems (the body's electrical system)
• Hormone stress (seasons, whelping, lactation, vaccines)
• Stress (environmental, genetic, physical, emotional etc.)
• Anxiousness (males when bitches are in seasons)
• High strung hyperactive dogs
• Change in environment or weather related (heat or cold)
• Change in home or home environment
• Inbreeding -compromised immune system
• Illness which compromises the immune system
• Sensitivity to stimulus (light, sounds, movements)
• Travel (showing)
• Flea preparations
• Heartworm medications
The result of this yeast/fungus overgrowth manifests itself in external and internal expressions of disease. Based on clinical and research studies, Candida overgrowth in the intestines will create what has been called as "leaky gut" syndrome. Toxins and food allergens may pass through this membrane and go to other parts of the body, making him feel generally sick all over. Since antibiotics don't affect Candida yeast/fungus, they keep on multiplying and making more yeast, which in turn, puts out more toxins and weakens the immune system. It is a vicious cycle.
Some examples of "external" expression of a
systemic yeast infection are:
Skin Irritation - Itchy skin or feet - Licking paws, genital or vaginal area - Itchy mouth, throat, face - Rubbing nose
Redness, Inflammation and Odor - Underarms, Folds of Skin - Inner Thighs, Between Toes, Lips - Joint pain
Reoccurring Secondary Bacterial Infections - Ears - Bladder - Skin or Feet -
Sensitivity to light, sound, movement
You can see by this list of symptoms the animal is often misdiagnosed as having a food or contact allergy, or only a bacterial infection, when in fact the origin of the disease is yeast/fungus overgrowth.
Some examples of "internal" expression of a systemic yeast infection are:
• Gastrointestinal tract problems
• Gas/bloating - Bloat/torsion
• Suppressed immune system
• Inadequate absorption of nutrients
Other facts about Candida overgrowth - Systemic Yeast Infections: Systemic yeast infections (fungus) are extremely difficult to detect and kill.
When pH balance of the gut is out of balance, an environment is ripe for pathogenic bacteria and fungus to multiply at an alarming rate.
The by-products of bacteria and fungus produce "toxins." These can result in systemic disease, as well as bloat, stomach gas and foam.
Control Fungus Internally:
Feed a high quality based diet.
Use a metabolic enzyme to detoxify the body.
Use probiotics/digestive and dietary enzymes to keep the pH balance of the stomach in proper balance. This in turn helps prevent yeast overgrowth.
Use raw apple cider vinegar or lemon juice - 2 teaspoons per day on food or in water, to help keep the pH balance where it should be in the gut and make an environment, which is not conducive to yeast proliferation.
Control Fungus Externally:
1. Bathe in sulfur-based or medicated shampoo 2. Prepare a 50/50 mixture of Apple Cider Vinegar & Water 3. Rinse or wipe affected areas with 50/50 mixture daily. Note: Do not use Apple cider mixture on open lesions 4. Prepare a 2% solution of Oxy-Drops (1 teaspoon + 1 cup of distilled water). Use this to spray or wipe skin, ears, and feet with to prevent secondary bacterial infection. 5. For ears - your vet can recommend the appropriate medication.
Always consult with your veterinarian for his recommendations.
Ringworm: Ringworm (caused by the fungi Microsporum and Trichophyton) is the primary fungal infection that troubles dogs. Such fungi live in dead skin tissues, nails, and hairs - particularly, but not exclusively, among young dogs. Symptoms include:
Hair loss, usually in circular patches Hair loss patches that may have a crusty, dry look Hair loss on the head and legs Scratching of the patchy areas
If your dog develops these symptoms, take him to his veterinarian right away. If your vet suspects ringworm, he will probably run a Wood's Lamp Test (using an ultraviolet light), or take a fungal culture.
Typically, treatment includes: Trimming or shaving the hair around affected areas, using fungicidal shampoos for bathing the dog, applying a topical antifungal medication, and lime sulphur dips
Ringworm is quite contagious to both animals and humans, with children being especially vulnerable. Dogs with ringworm must be kept away from children and other pets until the infection is gone. (This may two or three months, or longer.) Adults should wash their hands well after handling a dog with ringworm.
Blastomycosis: Blastomycosis is a fungal disease usually found in both dogs and humans. (Some other animals may be affected, too, including cats, horses, and wild animals.) Most cases of Blastomycosis have been traced to damp soil containing organic matter - a perfect place for fungi to grow. Hunting dogs and other dogs who are frequently allowed to roam are particularly susceptible.
The fungus may enter your dog through wounds, or it may be inhaled. As the fungus begins to thrive in the dog's body, it spreads to the lungs, the vascular system, or to the lymph nodes.
Symptoms of blastomycosis include: Weight loss, chronic coughing, loss of muscle tone, shortness of breath, skin lesions, red eyes, swollen eyes, excessive tearing of the eyes, and clouding of the corneas
If you dog has any of the above symptoms, you should immediately take him to the vet. There is no cure without treatment, and the earlier your dog is treated, the better his chances are for a healthy recovery. Without treatment, your dog may go blind, or have other serious, life threatening problems.
Treatment includes drug therapy, and may require several short hospitalizations. Do not be alarmed if your dog's symptoms worsen at first; when the fungus begins to die inflammation is common, and this can make the symptoms appear stronger. When your dog comes home after treatment, his diet should consist of high-quality food only, and you should restrict his exercise until he is completely well.
Humans may also become infected by blastomycosis. When handling your infected dog, wear gloves and wash your hands frequently. (However, humans are much more likely to become infected by an environment contaminated by the fungi.)
Valley Fever: A fungus called Coccidioides immitis causes Valley Fever in both dogs and humans. The fungus is found in dry, arid soil; when dust is raised from that soil, the fungus is inhaled. Dogs who have been around construction areas, who dig frequently, or are out in the wind, are especially susceptible. Young dogs or dogs with weakened immune systems are also more likely to develop Valley Fever.
Symptoms include: A harsh cough, fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, and seizures
This fungus is difficult to diagnoses and is sometimes mistaken for other fungal diseases, cancer, pneumonia, cancer, or Lyme disease. If your vet suspects Valley Fever, blood tests, x-rays, or antibody testing may be used to help diagnose the disease.
Other fungal diseases in dogs include:
Aspergillosis, which usually affects the nasal cavity and respiratory system, before attacking the rest of the body. Dogs with long noses are most susceptible. Symptoms may include open sores around the nostrils, bloody or puss-filled nasal discharge, weight loss, fever, lethargy, and vomiting.
Cryptococcosis is usually inhaled from the excrement of birds (particularly pigeons), and tends to invade dogs' nervous systems. Symptoms include weight loss, lethargy, head tilting, and eyes that dart back and forth.
Histoplasmosis is caused by breathing in Histoplasma capsulatum, which is carried in dust. Symptoms may include labored breathing, fever, anemia, and enlarged liver or other organs.
Yeast Infections: Yeasts are found on the surfaces of every living thing - including your dog's body. When your dog is healthy his immune system can stave off and destroy yeasts. But if his immune system is weak his body may not be able to fight off yeast, leading to toxic levels that cause a myriad of health problems.
In addition, some breeds are more inclined toward yeast infections, including West Highland White Terrier, Basset hound, Cocker spaniel, Silky terrier, Australian terrier, Maltese, Chihuahua, Poodle, Shetland sheepdog, Lhasa Apso, and the Dachshund. Also, any dog with skin allergies, an under-active thyroid gland, hypothyroidism, diabetes, or who's had recent treatment with an antibiotic or corticosteroid, may be more prone to develop a yeast infection.
Symptoms of a yeast infection may include: Greasy or waxy skin, smelly skin, a white tongue, hives or rashes, chronic infections, chronic cough, crusty skin, and discharge from the eyes, nose or ears.
If your dog shows any of these symptoms, he should see his vet right away. Since these symptoms are general, and may be grounded in other problems, the veterinarian will probably try to rule out other possible causes. Your vet may also take a sample of the yeast on your dog's skin (with a cotton swab or piece of tape, for example), or do a small biopsy and study it under a microscope.
Treatment often includes treatment of underlying problems (like allergies or a thyroid problem), topical shampoo or spray, and oral medications.
Yeast/Ear Infections: Yeast are single celled fungus and they are used in brewing beer or baking bread. Some types of yeast are less useful and that's the kind that grows in your dog's ear. Yeast infections are probably the most common type of ear infections in dogs. Because dogs have long ear canals that can hold water after a bath, swim, or run through tall, wet grass. Add to this a floppy ear that prevents good ventilation of the ear canal and you have a warm, moist, dark environment in which yeast thrive. The more moisture yeast get, the worse the infection will be.
Yeast infections are most common in dogs that love water (Labradors, Retrievers), have long floppy ears (Bassets, Beagles, Spaniels), have either narrow and/or furry ear canals (Poodles, Cocker Spaniels), or have a history of ear infections or allergies.
Symptoms include: The inside of his ears will appear red and irritated; he will shake his head and scratch at his ears almost constantly, sometimes to the point of bleeding; a foul odor will emanate from the inside of his ears; and he may whine, pace, or even stop eating because of the pain and irritation.
Serious injury or permanent damage may occur to the ears if an ear infection is left untreated.
Prevention and early treatment are the keys. In principle, yeast are easy to kill if you keep in mind that they hate dry, acidic environments. If you keep your dog's inner ears dry and clean by using an acidic type cleaning solution made for dog's ears, you will make the ear environment very uninviting to yeast. Acidic cleaning solutions are available from your veterinarian.
It is also common to see a bacterial infection associated with a severe yeast infection. Unfortunately, routine ear cleaning will not cure a serious bacterial infection. Such double infections occur when yeast infections are not treated in their early stages. It is more difficult and expensive to cure this double infection.
Your dog may also have underlying problems such as allergies and hypothyroidism that can add to the seriousness of an ear infection.
If you see no improvement in your dog's ears within 72 hours after you start cleaning them, make an appointment to see your veterinarian as soon as possible. You dog may need other medications to clear up the infections. If severe irritation or a creamy discharge is noticed, see your veterinarian right away.
Ear infections can be very painful for your dog but they can be avoided with a little help from you.
For pets with itchy skin from yeast infections, use a Baking Soda rinse alone or after shampooing your pets body with the appropriate pet shampoo for fungus infections (see vet). It will be quite helpful with the overall itchiness, skin problems and inflammation. Ask your veterinarian for his recommendations.
Baking Soda Recipe: Mix two (2) teaspoons of Baking Soda per gallon of warm water; make sure to mix it so it completely dissolves - pour over pet, do not rinse off.
The Bottom Line:
If you suspect your dog may have a fungal infection or yeast infection, it's important to give your veterinarian a history of where your dog has been, and what led up to the first symptoms that you noticed. Sometimes such histories need to go back as far as six or seven months. Explaining your dog's habits may also be important. For example, if your pet tends to paw and dig at gopher holes, this can be vital information for your vet to know.
So, with a vigilant eye and a little sensitivity toward any discomforts your pet may be feeling, you can keep not only your "best friend" healthy, but your family and your other pets fit and well, too.
Note from Chazlyn: feeding a diet high in grain can make yeast issues worse. Dog foods without corn and wheat are far better for dogs.