Symptoms of Systemic Yeast Infection in Dogs

The symptoms of systemic yeast infection in dogs are important for dog owners to know so that this potentially serious condition can be treated before it becomes a chronic health problem for your pet. Because these symptoms can be mistaken for other diseases, you and your veterinarian will need to work together to eliminate other causes for the symptoms so your pet's health can be restores promptly.

Let’s look at the causes of a systemic yeast infection, its symptoms and how your veterinarian can diagnose and treat the condition. We’ll also look briefly at steps you can take to ensure your dog is protected against future yeast infections.

How a Systemic Canine Yeast Infection Develops

The yeast that most commonly causes canine infections is called candida, and it’s naturally present in your dog’s digestive system. Under normal conditions, it doesn’t cause him any problems, but if something upsets the balance of his body, candida can become opportunistic and grow beyond the digestive tract to cause a variety of health problems.

Another yeast commonly found on your dog’s body is called malassezia. It normally lives in your dog’s anal sacs, ears and rectum, but it can also become opportunistic and spread beyond these areas.

Causes of a systemic canine yeast infection can include:

  • hormonal imbalance
  • poor diet
  • recent use of antibiotics
  • stress
  • underlying diseases that weaken the dog’s immune system

Symptoms of a Systemic Canine Yeast Infection

Many different symptoms can indicate a canine yeast infection, including:

  • bladder infections
  • crusty skin
  • depression
  • digestive problems
  • ear infections
  • foot chewing
  • genital licking
  • hair loss
  • itching
  • lethargy
  • oily skin
  • secondary skin infections
  • smelly skin and coat
  • sticky ear wax
  • tail dragging

Taken individually, most of these symptoms can indicate other canine health problems, so your veterinarian will have to evaluate your dog’s symptoms in conjunction with the results of his lab tests to develop a diagnosis and treatment plan.

The most common indications of a systemic yeast infection are skin problems or recurrent ear infections, both of which can also lead you to think your dog may have an allergy of some sort. Specialized tests by your veterinarian can detect yeast in your dog’s body. If yeast is not found, additional tests may be required to determine the cause of your dog’s ear and skin problems.

Diagnosing and Treating a Systemic Canine Yeast Infection

To diagnose your dog’s systemic yeast infection, your veterinarian will begin with a physical examination. He or she will rule out other possible causes for his symptoms, such as allergies, and he or she will microscopically examine skin scrapings or samples of your dog’s stool to look for the presence of yeast.

Once the yeast infection has been diagnosed, treatment options can include dietary changes, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal medications to treat both the itching and the source of the problem and special shampoos to help soothe and heal his skin.

Preventing Future Systemic Canine Yeast Infection Outbreaks

Ask your veterinarian about the use of probiotic preparations to reintroduce beneficial bacteria to your dog’s intestines, and have your dog’s hormone levels evaluated so that he won’t be prone to additional yeast infections. Also take steps to ensure that your home provides a low-stress environment for him. These simple steps will help improve his overall health and also help prevent recurrences of future yeast infections.