Systemic Yeast Infection in Dogs

Your dog’s systemic yeast infection is caused by a simple organism called Candida albicans. Under normal conditions, this yeast is present in your dog’s digestive system and does not cause any problems, but if certain other factors come into play, your dog can become ill. Let’s look at the factors that trigger a systemic yeast infection, as well as tests your veterinarian can use to diagnose the condition and medications that can be used to treat it. We’ll also discuss prevention strategies that can help keep your pet healthy.

Systemic Yeast Infections: Simple Cause, Many Triggers

As noted earlier, Candida albicans is a normally occurring yeast in your dog’s digestive system that usually doesn’t cause any health issues. If, however, your dog has recently finished a lengthy dose of antibiotics, is under increasing amounts of stress, or eats a poor-quality diet, he is at greater risk of developing a systemic yeast infection than a dog that is healthy, has a manageable stress level and eats a nutritious diet.

A dog with a systemic yeast infection will have an overpopulation of Candida albicans in his digestive system. The infection will spread throughout his body because the high yeast levels will start to overwhelm your dog’s immune system, leaving him vulnerable to other types of infection.

Symptoms of a Systemic Yeast Infection

Systemic yeast infections present with a variety of symptoms. Your dog may have irritated skin, or he may begin to lick his paws excessively. He may paw at his face or rub it on the floor frequently. He may develop recurrent ear infections, or he may develop other bacterial infections. His skin may begin to smell.

Other symptoms of systemic yeast infections include:

  • bloat
  • flatulence
  • depression
  • lethargy
  • joint stiffness 
  • fatigue

How a Systemic Yeast Infection Is Diagnosed

Your veterinarian will use laboratory tests, along with a complete physical examination, to diagnose your dog’s yeast infection. He or she may take scrapings from your pet’s skin to check yeast levels, or a sample of your pet’s stool may be analyzed for the presence of large amounts of yeast.

Treating a Systemic Yeast Infection

Treatments for systemic yeast infections can include probiotic treatments to restore the proper levels of digestive enzymes and “good” bacteria in your dog’s digestive system. He may also require a change in diet, and he may receive medication to help soothe his irritated skin and relieve his itchiness.

How to Prevent Systemic Yeast Infections

To help protect your dog from systemic yeast infections, you need to take a few simple precautions. Maintain his good health with regular veterinary visits, a good-quality diet and regular exercise opportunities.

If he’s recently taken medications that may upset his normal gut flora (the bacteria and yeast that are present in healthy dogs and aid them in digestion), ask your veterinarian if probiotic treatments may be in order. These help restore the normal bacterial balance in your dog’s digestive system.

Since stress plays a factor in preventing yeast infections and other illnesses, keep your dog’s stress level manageable by maintaining a fairly regular routine of meal time, play time and rest time.