- in Dog Health
Is your dog itching incessantly? Have you "tried everything" and still no success? Maybe you should consider the possibility that your dog has a yeast infection. Yes, that's right, a yeast infection.
Most people, when they think "yeast infection", think of the common human gynecological variety. Yeast infections are caused by a fungal overgrowth. There are several types of fungi that can be affected. In humans, thrush, athlete's feet and ringworm are all caused by a fungal infection.
Often, dog owners mistake yeast infections for allergies. The 24/7 itching, biting and redness would make that a logical conclusion.
In dogs, yeast infections usually present as an inflammatory skin disorder. The specific yeast involved is called Malassezia. This particular yeast occurs naturally on the dog and inside the gut. It is when this yeast starts to grow out of control that issues ensue.
Is It Allergies Or A Yeast Infection?
Allergies will be cyclical. That is, come and go based on the seasons. Infections will present themselves in a variety of ways, but will be constant, regardless of the time of year. Your dog may display all or some of these at any given time.
Reddish brown fur, particularly around the paws is indicative of a yeast infection. The color does not come from irritation or itching, it is the actual yeast causing the fur to turn that color. Black spots on the underbelly are also an indication of yeast overgrowth. Black skin, sometimes rough and thick (like elephant skin), is another sure sign that yeast is the problem. Often, people indicate their dog smells like corn chips when they are experiencing a yeast condition.
Some dogs will develop seborrhea. This is greasy hair usually accompanied with dandruff-like flaking of the skin. Particularly nasty cases will result in greasy, rancid smelling skin. There is no mistaking the odor. No amount of bathing is going to get rid of that smell.
How Do I Treat A Yeast Infection?
A veterinarian will usually prescribe a round of antibiotics, antifungals and steroids. The problem with these medications is that they are only addressing symptoms. Prolonged use of antibiotics will kill off the "good" bacteria in your dog's gut. The steroid use comes along with its own set of problems.
Once the medication is finished, you can count on the symptoms to return. You need to find the cause of the yeast infection and eliminate it. This is not so easy to do. The cause of the overgrowth can be elusive, but will be found somewhere in your dog's diet.
Use of probiotics can help tremendously with re-establishing growth of healthy bacteria in your pet. The good bacteria will help to fight off the overgrowth of the bad strains.
Food that contains sugar should also be eliminated. If you are thinking "I don't feed my dog sugar", chances are you do. Sugar can be found in carbohydrates and most commercial dog food contains carbohydrates. In fact, they contain way more carbs than dogs require.
Even if you feed your dog a "grain free" food, it probably contains potatoes, which are a starch. Starches are carbohydrates and convert to sugar in the body.
Fortunately, there are a number of pet foods on the market today that are carbohydrate free and designed to mimic a dog's natural diet of primarily protein. Another option is to feed your dog homemade meals. This allows stricter control of their intake.
Feeding your dog a homemade diet can be labor intensive. You can opt for a raw diet, but should do extensive research. Some proponents of a raw diet can make the option seem overwhelming. They will inundate you with formulas and schedules that would put most people off the idea. Common sense is key here.
You can choose to feed a cooked homemade diet. Either option is preferable to commercial foods in this case. Regardless of which option you choose, invest some time in researching and investigating different philosophies. Some experimentation on your end is going to be necessary.
Do not offer a lot of variety. Stick to two or three foods initially. Feed them for a prolonged period and take note of which foods seem to elicit reactions in your pet. Once you have found some "safe" choices, then you can start to add some variety. If you notice any adverse reactions, cut that food back out of the rotation.
There are topical remedies to try as well, along with your diet changes. Apple cider vinegar is a good "adjuster". Spray some diluted vinegar on your pet, especially on affected areas. The vinegar can help to re-establish healthy bacteria growth along with the carbohydrate elimination and probiotics use.
Eliminating a yeast infection can be a frustrating process. It may take some time before you are successful. The results are well worth the effort, and the effect on your dog's overall quality of life is reward enough for any pet lover.
As with any major changes, you should consult with your veterinarian to ensure that you are making safe choices and to monitor your dog's condition.