How to Stop Hair Loss and Itching in Dogs From Yeast Overgrowth
Scratching in Dogs Could Be From an Overgrowth of Yeast
If your dog is scratching a lot and has hair loss, flaky skin and a musty smell, he or she may have a yeast infection—also known as Malassezia dermatitis. Unfortunately, yeast infections in dogs are fairly common. When my dog first developed hair loss, I went to the vet and paid for expensive testing, but nothing seemed to help. My dog just became more and more unhappy to the point that the scratching and licking woke us up at night and her skin became raw, sore and irritated.
Over time, her skin just got worse and worse. Itchy skin patches would get flaky and as the flakes came loose, small chunks of her hair fell out. These areas even began to grow in size, so the bald patches became very visible. In some cases, the skin underneath grew dark, folded and thickened and began to resemble elephant skin. I soon discovered that these were all classic signs of a yeast infection.
I decided to research ways to help my dog to stop scratching and discovered a great number of remedies. I have to disclaim that I have absolutely no veterinary medical training whatsoever. The following information is just what I found from online research. These remedies worked for me and my dog, and I hope they can help you. As always, consult with your veterinarian before proceeding.
What Causes Yeast Overgrowth in Dogs?
Yeast fungus naturally grows on dog (and human) skin and is generally fine under normal conditions, but certain conditions will cause the fungus to multiply out of control and create health problems. Yeast fungus thrives off of the following:
A Dietary Change May Resolve Your Dog's Yeast Problem
I thought I’d check the labels on my dog’s food since yeast proliferation is sometimes linked to diet. After completing my research, I discovered some surprising information and encourage you to seriously consider the following tips that I've provided below.
Check the Ingredients in Your Dog's Food
I used to feed my dog food pouches and a dried food mix along with a selection of biscuits for treats. I was alarmed to learn that most of her diet was made up of wheat! When I added together all the cereals, fillers and wheat that I fed her each day compared to the protein, I felt terrible. Dogs are meant to have a meat-heavy diet, and I was not providing her with this.
Choose a Protein-Based Diet
I changed my dog's diet to wheat-free and protein-based. I did this by cooking brown rice and chicken thighs with cheap chunks of beef. For treats, I gave her pigs' ears, salmon skin and leftover meat from our food, which we cut into small pieces and carefully stored in the fridge.
I also gave her a few dollops of probiotic yogurt every morning when her tummy was still empty and added a dog vitamin supplement to her meal in powdered form to make sure that all vitamins and minerals were digested every day. (These essential vitamins were likely in the processed dog food she previously ate, so I felt that it was important to add these to her homemade diet.)
Make Home-Cooked Meals
I have to admit, cooking my dog dinner took dedication but it was well worth it. I usually cook three days' worth at a time and put it all in the fridge in plastic containers. I now have a routine and find it easy to do. My dog loves her new food and eats it quickly even though I offer her a similar meal every day.
Check the Labels
Check your food packets, tins and pouches to see what wheat and cereal you are feeding your pet. Too much wheat can lead to yeast infections.
Treatments to Stop Dog Yeast Infections
Here are some methods I used to get rid of my dogs itchy, flaky and smelly skin complications. With enough persistence, these home remedies worked.
Selsun Blue (Can You Use Selsun Blue on Dogs?)
I bathed my dog in a fungal treatment shampoo. I used Selsun, which is available over the counter in many stores. In the USA, it is called Selsun Blue and is available everywhere. In the UK, you have to go to an old-fashioned chemist—like Lloyds—and ask for it, as it's not always on the shelves (they have it in the back).
Selsun or Selsun Blue is a human shampoo, but it is made solely for the purpose of reducing fungal overgrowth and is often recommended by vets for animals. I have to admit that it smells a bit strong, but it does the job well.
At first, I bathed my dog every day. She was so happy with the reduced itchiness that her depression seemed to be lifted immediately. A lot of her hair did come off, so she looked worse initially. I was really concerned that I wasn't doing the right thing, but it proved to be okay in the long run. Her hair loss stopped after about five days.
I covered my dog's sore patches in diaper cream that is used to treat mild diaper rash and yeast infections. These creams are commonly used on babies, but I used it on my dog and it gave her instant relief. The product contains antiseptic and healing qualities, and it is very thick and sticky, so it stays put very well.
Some people are concerned that zinc oxide is poisonous for dogs; my research has indicated that this is true if a large amount is ingested. To ensure that your dog does not eat it, store the tub away from them and stop any licking of the treated area.
Some people dab their dogs with apple cider vinegar diluted to 50 percent, which may stop itching and kills yeast. It is a very inexpensive ingredient. Make sure you dilute it so you don't cause discomfort to your dog. Success has also been shown with diluted aloe vera and tea tree oil when applied topically, but precautions must be taken as both can reach toxic levels if ingested.
I also discovered neem oil—it is used a lot in traditional medicine to cure many ailments. This stuff really eases extremely sore skin and seems to rapidly heal it as well. It must be diluted with a carrier oil such as olive oil. It smells quite strong, but my dog does not mind it at all.
Consistency Pays Off
The main thing is to be consistent with your treatment. Even when you see improvements, you must keep the treatment up. Unfortunately, this process takes a while, so you must be patient.
Fish Skin May Improve Coat and Skin Condition
I have discovered that there is a variety of fish skin snacks and treats that may be good for your dog. My pooch wolfs down all of them. They are not too expensive, but they do seem to be a little hard to acquire, so I purchase my dog's treats on Amazon. She goes crazy for wild Alaskan salmon oil by , and here's what makes it great: Plato Treats
- It does not contain added ingredients like cereal, gluten, colouring or wheat
- It contains healthy omega-3 oils and trace minerals
- Its odor is mild and it is not messy
Be Persistent With Your Dog's Care
I have to confess, after my first success with keeping my dog's yeast problem under control, I let things slide for a while. I started using dog biscuits for treats and used normal dog shampoo, which made the itching return after a few months. I am now stricter with her diet.
Unfortunately, my dog will steal food she isn't allowed to have. If anyone leaves a sandwich, packet of biscuits or piece of cake unattended for a moment, she will take it quick as a flash. More than once, she has taken a whole loaf of bread off the kitchen table and devoured it before anyone could stop her. She might then suffer a flare-up, but it is never quite as bad as it used to be because she is no longer consuming wheat and fillers on a daily basis. I do encourage you to stay persistent with your dog's care for best results.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Can coconut oil help with my dog's yeast infection?
Yes, coconut oil can help with your dog's yeast infection but pets really like the taste and will lick it off.Helpful 40
Will my dog's hair grow back?
Yes, the hair will grow back on the patches, but it does take quite a long time. The skin has to heal first, and then the hair grows in. Some of the patches will have slightly different colors of hair when it grows back; it's a minor change.Helpful 29
My girl has long fur. This has been making it difficult to get to her skin properly. Also, it keeps her super warm. Would it be okay to take her coat down a bit for treatment?
I only have experience with my own short-haired dog, but I should imagine that cutting fur shorter will not do any damage as long as it is done safely.Helpful 15
What are some things you make for your dog to eat? I have seen everything from cooking to not cooking the meat, and tons of different supplements.
I mainly feed my dog cooked chicken thighs and brown rice, as I described in the article. She does not seem to mind having the same things every time. For snacks, I use our cooked leftover meat, fish skin, fat. Some people believe in giving raw meat - I have not tried this and I only write from experience.Helpful 12
My boxer has been suffering from yeast for almost a year. I have tried everything from tabs to creams to imported shampoo. Though it is under control it's not getting cured completely. Can overactive yeast in dogs be completely cured and also will the hair grow back?
Boxers do seem to suffer with this a lot. My doggy is a boxer mix. Keep the yeast low, wash the skin gently as described, and be persistent. It does take a while, but do not give up. My doggy did completely heal, but it took months of never giving up - and then keeping it up always. If you can stand the pong - neem oil ordered online worked the best but it does smell strong.Helpful 9
© 2015 Susan Hambidge