Symptoms of Malassezia Dermatitis in Dogs

Malassezia dermatitis is one of the less frequently occurring types of dermatitis in dogs, but it's relatively common among certain breeds. Dogs that have large, floppy ears are more likely than others to develop this condition, and the breeds that are most predisposed to malasezzia dermatitis are basset hounds, cocker spaniels, poodles, highland terriers and other related breeds. This condition, which is caused by an overabundance of a certain type of yeast that is otherwise considered to be a normal, healthy inhabitant of your pet's skin and ear canals, can cause a number of uncomfortable and potentially harmful symptoms in your pet. If you notice any of the following, it's a good idea to take your dog in to the vet for an examination to work on correcting the condition.


The most common symptom that you're likely to see is one of your pet's behavior. Dogs suffering from malassezia dermatitis generally have significant itching problems. Your pet may be seen scratching at, pawing, rubbing, scooting along or otherwise trying to scratch a particular area of his skin. Because the condition so often develops inside of the ears, look especially for signs of your pet pawing at or rubbing his ears along furniture or other surfaces. The itching will tend to be localized in one or two individual areas.

Flaky Skin

Red, flaky skin is another major symptom of this condition. This is due not only to the infection and the dermatitis itself, but also to the skin's normal reaction to your pet's excessive scratching. The skin may be scaly and oily, and large chunks of it may slide off as your pet continues to scratch. Be on the lookout for these droppings throughout the house and anywhere your pet has been seen to scratch excessively.

Unusual Color and Odor

One of the other primary symptoms of skin that is affected by malassezia dermatitis is that it tends to have an unusual color and a distinctive, foul odor. The color the skin that hasn't been scratched as much or that your dog hasn't been able to scratch due to its location will typically be yellowish or gray. It will be oily and flaky, and the skin itself will tend to smell quite bad. If you notice an unusual odor about your pet, this may be a symptom of malassezia dermatitis.

Hair Loss

For prolonged cases of malassezia dermatitis, it's not uncommon to see some dogs begin to lose hair in the affected area. This hair loss will typically start out slowly, but may increase dramatically in a short period of time. Look for excessive shedding around your home and pay attention to your dog's coat to see if there are any localized areas in which he's experienced unusual hair loss.

If you recognize any of the symptoms listed here, take your dog in to the vet for diagnosis as soon as possible.