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Preventing & Treating Yeast Infections

Updated: Nov 6, 2020

With the cold winter months approaching and the humidity changes both inside and outside, we've hit the perfect storm for dealing with yeast! Walking and playing in the wet snow creates the perfect environment in your dog's paw pads, ears, armpits, groin and basically all over their body to grow and fester this nasty pest.

MANY dogs suffer from yeast overgrowth ranging from small problems like itchy feet, to full blown fungal infections. Other signs your dog may be dealing with a yeast problem include:

- Excessively chewing or licking at the feet

- Dark, rusty red fur between toes and paw pads

- Bad, flaky skin and greasy fur

- Reoccurring ear infections or head shaking

- Dark spots on the under belly

- Fur loss

- General "musty" smell, especially in feet and ears

Yeast infections are a very common problem across all breeds of dogs, they cause itching, oozing, unsightly fur colour changes and scabbing on the skin which can be extremely irritating to your dog and hard to get on top of. Fungal yeasts exist in and on dogs’ bodies naturally and usually aren’t a problem. However, there are many things that can cause overgrowth of yeast, including medical conditions, exposure to medications, or weakened immune systems. Just when you seem to have things under control, BOOM the yeast sneaks back in! How can we combat this reoccurring problem?

First we need to understand what yeast actually is and what sparks flare ups. Yeast is a fungus that naturally lives on (and inside) the surface of your woofer's skin with their natural flora, along with both good and bad bacteria. These systems need to be balanced in order to remain healthy and when something disturbs this balance, the yeast and bad bacteria take advantage and begin to take over. Malassezia pachydermatitis is the type of yeast that overgrows and causes skin and ear infections. Candida yeasts affect the digestive system, mouth and genital areas.

Many things can spark this process such as feeding food with a heavy carbohydrate load, rounds of antibiotics and even not being properly dried after getting wet/a bath.

While it’s important to find the underlying cause of the yeast overgrowth, there are some natural things you can introduce to your woofer to help fight off yeast and encourage a re balancing of your their system.

Environmental factors:

More often than not, yeast overgrowth is triggered by a wet humid environment. Which makes your dog's coat fresh after a swim or a bath the perfect overgrowth environment. Some owners will say the infections seem to "pop up overnight" and its because, they kind of do. If your dog gets wet and are not given the chance to completely dry, the water will sit on the surface of the skin, become warm from the natural body heat and the yeast is immediately triggered and festers. Yeast infections can spread very quickly in this perfect environment and you can wake up to a dog covered in these "hot spots"

You want to always make sure you completely and thoroughly dry off your dog after getting wet, especially in yeast's favorite areas such as the groin/belly, under arms, ears, along the chest and in between the paw pads. Using a microfiber towel or blow dryer is ideal.

Diet factors:

Many dogs can develop reoccurring yeast issues if they are eating a higher load of carbohydrates (typically when eating a kibble diet). The starch in the kibble actually creates the sugar the yeast feeds on. It is recommended to find a food with lower carb content or consider a raw or cooked diet, as these often contain little to no starch.

Things you can add to your woofer's life to combat yeast:

Boost their immune system and protect the microbiome by providing probiotics.

Don't forget that 80% of your dog's immune system is in their gut and we need this in tip-top condition if we want the other body systems to follow suit.

You can provide quality probiotics with whole food sources such as raw goat's milk, kefir, fermented veggies or with high quality store bought products such as Love Bugs from Adored Beast or Gut Sense from Dr. Peter Dobias.

Kill off the yeast and keep PH balanced with organic Apple Cider vinegar. You can give this both orally and topically to give it a double healing effect. You can add a small amount to your dog's food or water or freeze into small ice cubes to encourage eating it.

After your dog gets wet, make a mixture of 50/50 ACV and water in a spray bottle and thoroughly spray your dog with the nozzle right against the skin and rub in with your fingers, let it sit for 10 minutes then rinse.

For yeasty paws, fill your bathtub with a few inches of warm water and add in a few cups of ACV. Put your dog in and let them stand for 5-10 minutes. Rinse feet and dry extremely well afterwards. You can do this 1-3 times a week for reoccurring issues.

Boost their skin and coat condition with high quality oils.

Omega 3's and coconut oil can make a huge difference in dogs with reoccurring skin issues such as yeast overgrowth. Omega 3's will bring down the overall inflammation and help improve their skin and coat quality to fight dryness and infection. Shop for a high quality fish oil such as the Cold water fish Oil from Carnivora or Heightened Hemp Oil from Adored Beast.

Coconut oil is known for its skin healing properties and like ACV, you can give it both topically and orally for double benefit.

According to DNM, "Coconut Oil contains large amounts of Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs), which in turn are made up of lauric acid, capric acid, caprylic acid, myristic acid and palmitic. All of these contribute to coconut oil’s antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties. Since yeast is a fungus, coconut oil can help prevent and treat yeast overgrowth, including candida."

Keep on top of grooming!

Keeping your dog's fur healthy and groomed helps the skin stay healthy and fight off yeast. You should give your yeast-prone dog a monthly bath with a shampoo that contains tea tree oil (Shop for my favorite here) and follow with an apple cider vinegar and green tea rinse. You can also bring this mixture to your groomer and ask them to use it on them after their shampoo as well.

Monthly bathing instructions:

Shampoo dog thoroughly with tea tree shampoo, rinse well.

Make up a large bottle of half AVC, half warm water and two green tea bags (best to prepare this ahead of time to let it steep overnight) and rub all over your dog. Let sit for 10 minutes or as long as possible while working the mixture into the skin, focusing on problem areas such as paws, armpits and groin. Rinse well and then COMPLETELY dry your dog with towels and if possible, a dryer as well.

Repeat once a month. *For dogs with active yeast infections in their paws or on their body, you can do this every 2 weeks until the problem is improving.

Like when switching foods, when trying to re balance your dog's system to control yeast, it's important to start with one remedy at a time to ease the new things into their system.

Lastly, if you are following a yeast protocol and your dog is still suffering from symptoms, you may be dealing with an allergy instead of just yeast. They’re related, but not the same. In order to effectively get to the root of your dog’s skin problem, you need to know the difference between an allergic response and a yeast infection.

An allergy is a reaction to an allergen. In order to treat it, the allergen must be removed from the dog’s environment. The consequence of an allergic response is basically a failure of the immune system to protect the dog from infection, whether bacterial, fungal or yeast. Allergies and yeast go a little hand in hand, which makes it confusing to figure out if your dog in fact does have a food or environmental allergy. Allergies have an adverse effect on the immune system and may leave some dogs more susceptible to yeast infections. Dogs often itch this skin, leaving lesions or minuscule scratches which can become ideal breeding grounds for the yeast to grow in. If you treat the yeast and are still dealing with reoccurring problems, your dog likely has an allergy to something in their diet and/or environment. The key difference between yeast and allergies is that an overgrowth of yeast is easily cured, while allergies are chronic and incurable.

*End note - If you are dealing with re occurring yeast infections and nothing seems to be working, please consider and read up on the Yeasty Beast Protocol from Adored Beast. It includes two different yeast controlling products as well as a liver detox/support to help heal the problem at the source.

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