Why do so many itchy, flaky, oily, and smelly dogs leave the vet’s office without a word ever mentioned about yeast? The signs are difficult to ignore but this common problem rarely gets a mention? We’re not diagnosticians but we’ve called more yeast infections over the phone than I care to admit. Granted, we only speak with a fraction of our customers, bur yeast symptoms are the second most common complaint we hear about.
Yeasts are budding spore-like fungi that occur naturally in dogs at nominal levels. And there should be a balance of good and bad. However, pathogenic yeasts are opportunistic organisms that begin to take over anytime they find a weak link. Their numbers soar quickly, partly due to microscopic but tough protective barriers called biofilms. Simply put, biofilms are a serious enabler of a damaging yeast explosion.
A course of antibiotics is the most common instigator of a yeast infection, but steroids, chemotherapy, and many other chemical medications give yeast an advantage. Other invitations for trouble include poor diet, chronic allergies, stress, and anything that suppresses the immune system.
All of these upset the balance of flora that your dog needs for well-being. When pathogenic yeast find even a minor breakdown in the dog’s defenses it ruthlessly decimates beneficial bacteria that defend your dog’s immune system. Weakened immune health hampers recovery from any existing health problems and opens the door to new nightmares.
Many troublesome chronic health issues can be traced back to yeast. It can bring misery to any dog but if your pet has ever had a yeast infection or Demodectic mange, he has a bit higher risk of developing yeast issues again, which in turn can fuel an outbreak of demodicosis. If your dog currently suffers from Demodex mites, they inevitably cause some level of yeast overgrowth that will delay or may even prevent her recovery.
Select symptoms of yeast overload
- Itchy, inflamed skin
- Stinky dog syndrome: smelly skin, bad breath, foul smelling ears, etc.
- Skin crusts or scales
- Dried yeast flakes
- Skin discoloration
- Chronically raw, itchy or odorriffic paws
- Persistent respiratory problems (wheezing, coughing, nasal discharge)
- Joint pain
- Greasy coat
- Excessive shedding
- Food sensitivities
- Leaky Gut
- Chronic gastrointestinal problems (loose stools, gas, IBD)
- Chronic bladder or urinary tract infections
- Environmental allergies
- Frequent eye infections
- Itchy, red, irritated, swollen, or smelly ears
- A buildup of debris in one or both ears
- Recurring ear infections
- Head shaking, tilting, or walking in circles
- Rubbing the face or muzzle on floors & furniture
- Anxious or nervous behaviors
Most yeast problems can successfully be conquered naturally. But how?
Beating yeast overgrowth and infection is best done holistically! Winning the battle takes a concerted effort. So how do you do it? YOU FIGHT IT FROM ALL DIRECTIONS.
How to give internal yeast what for
Stop feeding the beast. Feed the best diet you possibly can. Cut out sugars entirely and drastically reduce carbohydrates. Yeast can only thrive if there is sugar present as an energy source. This is difficult if your dog is on a dry kibble diet as most kibble is full of carbohydrates. Even grain-free kibble as they replace grain with other starches which are carbohydrates. The ideal way to avoid sugar and carbohydrates is to feed a raw or homemade sugar-free, low glycemic diet. However, if that’s not realistic, this blog post provides guidance and tips for choosing a dog food.
- Kill off the overpopulation. Avoiding yeast-friendly foods is important, but diet changes alone are not enough. Treating a yeast infection successfully requires killing off pathogenic bad guy bacteria so the good guys have a chance.
- Add Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE)—not grape seed extract—to every meal. GSE is a uniquely powerful yeast-buster in that it is selective about which organisms it targets. It’s also a terrific natural antibiotic if you up the dosage. Another smart move is to add organic cold pressed coconut oil to your dog’s diet (1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight). Coconut oil’s fatty acids destroy yeasts in the gut without upsetting natural flora balance. (Your dog will devour it, guaranteed!
- Add as much Bragg’s apple cider vinegar to his drinking water as he’ll put up with.
- Ignore the negative hype. Toss 1/2 of a clove of fresh garlic daily into a meal. (Cut back to 1/4 clove for little ones under 20 pounds). Chop or crush the garlic and get it into her within 20 minutes of preparation. Compounds found in fresh garlic mix to form the yeast-hater allicin, This magic substance dissipates quicly, so hurry up.
- Stretch your budget. Increase the effectiveness of the Food Dish Yeast Bomb you’re constructing by including inexpensive herbal supplements. Pau d’arco, oregano oil, rosemary, thyme, and more are available in capsule form that can be easily be opened and sprinkled over the food.
- Get even more aggressive with non-herbal supplements such as Monolaurin, caprylic acid, and undecylenic acid, have reputations as heavy-duty yeast busters.
- Double Dip! Many supplements that do a dandy job of supporting overall immune function are also antifungal workhorses. Some natural immune boosters like cross-species colostrum, buffered Ester-C, echinacea, AHCC medicinal mushrooms, 4-Whey Pet Health Builder (packed with essential amino acids), pau d’arco do double-duty by helping to eliminate fungal overgrowth while providing important immune benefits.
- Rebalance & heal the gut. Dog-specific probiotics are a must-have for your overall battle plan to restore the centerpoint of your dog’s immune system. The good guy defenders in the GI tract are all but gone, destroyed and crowded out by pathogenic organisms. You can kill off gut garbage to beat the band but unless you fill the void your dog’s system will remain out of balance and the odds of healing yeast and Demodex fall off a cliff.
Gut rebuilding requires not only dog-specific CFU strains but digestive enzymes and ideally, prebiotics. When selecting a quality pet probiotic, look for these important characteristics:
- The correct strains of bacteria beneficial for pets, not people.
- Digestive enzymes to maintain balance and help your dog process all the things we supply that we think are fully digestible but they’re not. Digestive enzymes exponentially increase the amount of nutrition in the diet and the supplements your dog absorbs.
- Proof of purity and ingredient integrity as animal supplements are not regulated.
- Correct processing for that animal’s biological systems, not a human’s.
- Easy to administer to an animal.
- Formulated to be able to survive the acidic environment of your dog’s stomach.
- Of a molecular size to pass through a dog’s portals of entry in the small intestine to avoid malabsorption.
- Product stability under normal shipping and storage conditions.
- Is NASC certified to meet ingredient integrity and quality.
That food dish should also contain omega acids from a pure, properly balanced salmon oil, and a full panel of amino acids from 4-Whey Pet Health Builder or another bioavailable source. Your dog desperately needs these now for accelerated healing through a healthy gut. It’s interesting that many holistic vets recommend probiotics, digestive enzymes, and marine-based omega acids as lifetime supplements that proactively protect overall health.
And ignore the pet food label. Processed pet foods claiming to contain omega acids, amino acids, vitamins, herbs, probiotics, and other health supplements are just marketing hype. High heat and processing destroys them during manufacturing, rendering them useless (and sometimes ripe for rancidity). Exposure to air and light during packaging and shipping finish off any goodness left, so by the time you get it any benefit is long gone.
Lastly, be sure to follow the gut tolerance test. Digestive upset can result when introducing anything new that your pet’s digestive system is unaccustomed to (particularly anything acidic). We recommend starting at a quarter of the recommended dose and increasing the amount every few days until the full dose is reached. If diarrhea occurs and lasts for more than 2 days, drop back to the highest tolerated dose.
Assault plan for external skin, ear, and paw yeast
- Disinfect surface yeast daily. Fast and easy wipedowns with diluted povidone iodine sterilize superficial yeast and bacteria lurking on the skin’s surface. It’s this easy but must be done daily (2X daily in severe situations) as theses pathogens begin to reproduce as soon as they’re evicted by your dog’s largest detox organ – its skin. Povidone iodine works better than vinegar for several reasons:
- Unlike vinegar, povidone iodine doesn’t cause pain or irritate delicate skin or open wounds and doesn’t stink.
- Even diluted, povidone iodine instantly kills any bacteria it touches. Vinegar isn’t effective on all germs and you still might end up with a few staphylococci hanging around.
- Povidone iodine may prevent secondary infections or mitigate their severity if infection does occur.
- Bathe with medicated antifungal shampoo meant for Malassezia skin yeast. If you’re not familiar with this topical nightmare you may want to read this. An antifungal shampoo containing 2% miconazole nitrate & 2% chlorhexidine gluconate is considerably more effective than other anti-fungal shampoo formulas against this particular pathogen. Bathe twice a week for 3 weeks, then drop down to once a week. If you’re also using Mite Avenge, bathe on non-treatment days.
- Detoxify. Minimize the risk your pup getting sick from yeast-die (and the upcoming flood of mite toxins) with detox supplements. E-Mune Boost, Milk Thistle, Ester-C, Concentrated Colostrum, Neem Leaf Powder, and 4-Whey Pet Health Builder all have detoxifying properties. For additional information about detoxing, please visit our Detox page.
De-yeast the ears. Yeast loves to congregate in the warm moist environment of the ear canal. They are also fond of ear flaps & folds. Yeasty ears can cause severe problems as well as attract contagious ear mites. (Did you know that ear yeast and mites can travel outside the ear and infect the body?) Flush the ears with a good ear cleaner designed for removing yeast pathogens and any sticky debris that harbors it. Here’s an expanded look at yeasty or infected dog ears as well as prevent future problems.
It’s not like yeast is some difficult to recognize disease or that its connection to demodicosis is a foreign concept. A dog that smells bad or has obvious symptoms should be a tip-off but we consistently hear that such symptoms are overlooked. Yeast infections can be a stand-alone condition but if the immune system is weak enough to let the pathogens take over, there’s a strong chance that Demodex is already underway or the dog is at a serious risk in the near future.
If you see yeast symptoms that are overlooked or dismissed in favor of another diagnosis, it’s up to you to take action on your own and tackle the problem yourself. You may also have to advocate for your pet’s health if necessary as yeast infections can be serious. If symptoms are severe and appear to be creating intestinal or internal problems, the infection may be systemic and you should consult your vet immediately.
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