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How to Stop Yeast Overgrowth-Induced Hair Loss and Itching in Dogs

Susan likes to seek out alternatives to using conventional drugs whenever practical.

How to stop hair loss and itching from yeast overgrowth in dogs.

How to stop hair loss and itching from yeast overgrowth in dogs.

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; it 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:

  1. Warmth
  2. Moisture
  3. Wheat
  4. Sugar
Signs of hair loss on my dog.

Signs of hair loss on my dog.

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.

Treatments to Stop Dog Yeast Infections

Here are some methods I used to get rid of my dog's itchy, flaky, and smelly skin complications. With enough persistence, these home remedies worked.

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Read More From Pethelpful

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.

In the UK it isn't 'blue'. It is available in-store at Lloyds Chemists, but you might have to ask for it, as it is sometimes behind the counter.

In the UK it isn't 'blue'. It is available in-store at Lloyds Chemists, but you might have to ask for it, as it is sometimes behind the counter.

Routine Bathing

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.

Topical Medications

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 them 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.

Natural Alternatives

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.

Certain supplements and healthy oils may help improve your dog's coat condition.

Certain supplements and healthy oils may help improve your dog's coat condition.

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 Plato Treats, and here's what makes it great:

  • It does not contain added ingredients like cereal, gluten, coloring, 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 as quickly 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 the best results.

Home Remedies and Further Reading

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

Question: Can coconut oil help with my dog's yeast infection?

Answer: Yes, coconut oil can help with your dog's yeast infection but pets really like the taste and will lick it off.

Question: Will my dog's hair grow back?

Answer: 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.

Question: 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?

Answer: 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.

Question: 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.

Answer: 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.

Question: 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?

Answer: 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.

© 2015 Susan Hambidge


Linda Iacono on July 25, 2019:

I took my dog to the vets today with this type of fungal skin condition. They took a blood and skin sample to find out what it is but having just read what you have said it's more than likely a fungal infection.

Wish I had read this earlier it would have saved me nearly £500!

Susan Hambidge (author) from Kent, England on February 21, 2019:

Savannah - thank you for your feedback. It is amazing just how much wheat is in dog food, isn't it! I hope everything now improves for Maverick - but remember that the progress is slow so keep it up.

Savannah on February 20, 2019:

Hi! Thank you so much for yur help! I was so worried that my dig, Maverick, got into a fight with another fog, even though he isnt a violent dog and he us super sweet. Thanks to this article, we just found that his food has a bunch of wheat and yeast in it, as did his treats. We are going to buy him new food and treats, and we will get him a new shampoo and conditioner as well. I am going to start rubbing aloe vera on the spot where he has no hair once every day. I recommend that everyone, check the ingredients in your dogs food and treats BEFORE you buy it and watch out for yeast and wheat. Thank you so much!!

Magesh on December 22, 2018:

Hi..My pup have same infection .. Now Im giving 3 times milk and In noon white Rice with Yogurt... Is it Ok ?? Or i need to change diet of him??? on December 02, 2018:

Thank u for the

Info. Coconut oil calms the itching..

Tracy Fab on August 26, 2018:

I applaud you over an over for your consistency and OBVIOUS Devotion to your dogs well being! And thanks so much for this read! That’s SO MUCH my Biggest problem. NOT being consistent. After a few days it’s back to the same. I’m taking a guess here also that Sudocrem is something like “Bordeaux ButtePaste” for baby diaper rash. Nice name right? But great for all the same things Sudocrem is great for.

Thanks again! All the best to your family,meaning your 2 legged and 4 legged !

Catherine austen on August 20, 2018:

My shar pei has a yeast infection but he is a very strong dog and wont let me bath him. Is there any medication that i could apply topically?

jsedwards on August 11, 2018:

Thanks so much! I have hope that we will save my poor dog

Susan Hambidge (author) from Kent, England on March 07, 2018:

Hi DIAnna,

I am not a vet, I have only written about my own experiences with my dog.

It is always difficult to know when they really need to go to a vet. Watch him closely, and make sure you take him if he starts to get really distressed, or sick or doesn't jump up happily at everyone. If he isn't itching or licking then it probably isn't the same condition I have written about, I'm afraid. I wish you well.

DIAnna on March 05, 2018:

My diablo is seven years old. He is playful. He jump and licks every one. He doesn't scratch. He doesn't lick. Yet he has a patch of halt missing. I can't afford a vet right now to missing a month of work due to my own illness. I have pictures but no t sure how to show them here. We had Issue with food allergy. Changes food.

Dawn Rowley on April 26, 2017:

Very helpful, I am going to give this a try, heres hoping this will help my poor doggie. Her outbreaks are in the tail and rump area, very much as the photo shows.

Susan Hambidge (author) from Kent, England on March 31, 2017:

Hello Ashley, You have to find what is right for your own pet, I think. There are those who feel veg are important and many that feel dogs do not need them as they are carnivores. My dog was in a mess for quite a while, it took time and trials to get her in fine health, and now her fur is full, she does not smell awful, she is calm and her stomach regulated, so I will stick to not feeding her vegetables. But they are not harmful at all if anyone prefers to use them.

Ashley on March 31, 2017:

Veggies are great for dogs and they NEED them in their diet, otherwise they don't get the vitamins they need. I suggest adding peas, sweet potato, or pumpkin to your dog's food. I guarantee she'll gobble it up.

Susan Hambidge (author) from Kent, England on December 22, 2016:

Doc, I'm glad to hear there is some improvement, but if your young dog is sleeping a lot, that doesn't sound good. I would reduce the vinegar to one a week and then reduce it further now it is under control. Maybe the vinegar is making her feel unwell? Check your dog's diet as well, maybe a supplement is needed? but don't leave her lerthagic too long without seeking some professional help. I wish you luck.

Doc on December 22, 2016:

I've been bathing my dog once a week and running vinegar and water mix into his skin everyday she is not stinking any more her open sores have scabbed up does the vinegar and water everyday harm my dog ? I see she's still around the house lethargic around the house she's ten month old Apbt and sleeps most the day .. Will the vinager and water mix everyday kill her natural dog oils .......

Susan Hambidge (author) from Kent, England on May 03, 2015:

Thank you Marlo - I read that dogs can't digest fruit and veggies well, but I don't think it does them any harm at all, lots of manufactured dog food has carrots and peas in them I know. I understand that grapes and onions are particularly bad for them however. Glad to hear your two little dogs are fine and healthy.

MarloByDesign from United States on May 03, 2015:

You're a great doggy parent for sure! Rated 'Interesting'. Thanks for the apple cider vinegar tips. I politely disagree with you about vegetables as my two small dogs eat carrots and brocoli, and do fine!

FlourishAnyway from USA on April 28, 2015:

Poor doggy. That looks very uncomfortable! Many dogs (and cats) do have food allergies, and you're smart to consider diet.

Susan Hambidge (author) from Kent, England on April 25, 2015:

Thanks Peggy W - We knew the problems had to be some kind of allergy or reaction to something, it just took a while to understand what it was. I hope you find something to help Skippy each spring time, too.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 25, 2015:

It is wonderful that you have gotten your dog's raw and itchy skin condition under control using your methods. We don't like to see our pets suffer. Our Skippy seems to scratch more every Spring and it seems to be allergy related. I already make homemade dog food for him. Fortunately his skin is not raw and irritated looking. Might try bathing him more often. Thanks for letting us know what you do to help your dog.

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