Treat Your Dog's Yeast Infection at Home Without Going to the Vet

Updated on October 18, 2018
DrMark1961 profile image

Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

Is Your Dog Emitting an Unpleasant Odor?

If your dog is licking his paws, scratching his ears, and smells like a bag of corn chips, a loaf of old sourdough bread from San Francisco, a musty, old attic, or something you recognize as budding yeast, he needs your help. Those smells are caused by a type of yeast on your dog's skin called Malassezia pachydermatis. When your dog has a mild case of yeast overgrowth, he will just scratch his ears, smell his feet, and then go back to his nap.

Once a mild infection starts, the yeast release proteases (enzymes that break down protein) and damage the skin so that even more yeast can thrive. Your dog will be miserable, and he will start chewing on his feet, rubbing on the carpet, and scratching until he is raw and his skin is bleeding.

Dogs that have allergies and have been put on antibiotics and immunosuppressants (steroids, cyclosporine, and apoquel) are common victims of yeast infections. Yeast are normal organisms that live on the skin and can overproliferate if conditions allow, especially in those moist areas like the underarms, between the toes, and in the ear canals of the floppy-eared breeds.

Here is the best thing you can do to get them back under control while your dog is still at home:

The Shar-Pei is prone to yeast infections because of his skin and excessive allergies.
The Shar-Pei is prone to yeast infections because of his skin and excessive allergies. | Source

Best At-Home Yeast Infection Treatments for Dogs

  1. Give your dog a good bath. Do not pay attention to those instructions about removing the shampoo quickly so that the healthy oils are not stripped from your dog's skin. You need to remove the waxy buildup and the thick crust of yeast that are bothering your dog. After wetting your dog down, put a good quantity of shampoo on him, massage it in, and then leave it for about 10 minutes. This is a long time, so you really need to check your clock to make sure it is on there long enough. Benzoyl peroxide shampoo is the best choice to remove all of the waxy material built up on the skin and deep down into the pores. Since some people get rashes and itchy skin from bathing dogs with this problem I think it is important that you use rubber gloves.
  2. Apply apple cider vinegar to his skin. After removing most of the wax and yeast with the benzoyl peroxide shampoo, use vinegar to kill most of what is left. White vinegar will work okay, but I use apple cider vinegar since it is acidic and also has some healing properties not found in regular vinegar. Mix it with an equal amount of water, spray it on to his whole body, and then just let it dry without rinsing it off. (If your dog already has scratches on his body you will have to avoid those areas since this does sting, even diluted.)
  3. Treat all affected areas with coconut oil. At this point, roll your dog over and apply coconut oil to all of the areas that have been affected by the yeast. Use enough of it to rub between the toes, in the underarms, and even on the inside of the ear flaps.

A mild yeast infection. This dog's skin stayed moist because she liked to swim throughout the day.
A mild yeast infection. This dog's skin stayed moist because she liked to swim throughout the day. | Source

Do I Have to Treat the Whole Body?

Some dogs will start out with a mild yeast infection on their feet. The dog may be allergic, lick between his toes, and in the moist environment, the yeast proliferate. Many holistic vets will recommend a foot bath to treat this problem. I do not. Bathe your dog's whole body in the shampoo and use the vinegar and coconut oil as described. You cannot just worry about one part of his body since the yeast infection may have already spread.

Vinegar and Yeast

Since all vinegar is acidic and will kill yeast, you can treat your dog's yeast infection with regular white vinegar or apple cider vinegar (ACV). I have used both, but as a control method, I think that the ACV is the best.

  • Both ACV and white vinegar are acidic and kill yeast.
  • Yeast infections are a sign of an immune problem and ACV may help make the immune system stronger.
  • Organic ACV contains the “mother," which is a type of probiotic containing lactobacillus and other bacteria that might return the skin's normal flora after a yeast infection.

Coconut Oil and Yeast

Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides and several antioxidants.

  • Antioxidants like vitamin E, K, and the fatty acids myristic and caproic acid are present in high levels in coconut oil.
  • Antioxidants protect the skin from damage by free radicals.
  • Free radicals cause wrinkling and other aging effects similar to that seen with damage from Malassezia infections.
  • The fatty acids present in coconut oil also help the skin heal from scratches secondary to the yeast infection.

When you apply coconut oil between your dog's toes or under his arms, he might lick some of it off. Do not worry about it. Coconut oil is great for his skin, and he will look better even sooner.

Other Natural Cures for a Yeast Infection

Do you know why there are so many treatments for yeast infections? None of them work all of the time. If your dog has a yeast infection on his paws, especially if he is already limping, you might need to try several things until you find something that works.

Some holistic practicioners will recommend an immunostimulant. We have several good products here in South America. One of them, pau dárco, is great but the herb available in some pharmacies may not be pure. The same problem exists with a lot of supplies of Cats Claw, another herb from Peru.

Other veterinarians recommend yogurt, kefir, tea tree oil, colloidal silver, and oregano oil. Many of these treatments will work the first time. It comes back pretty often.

Westies are prone to allergies, so if allowed to lick their feet, they will often have problems with yeast.
Westies are prone to allergies, so if allowed to lick their feet, they will often have problems with yeast. | Source

Preventing the Yeast From Coming Back

Some conventional vets will tell you that a yeast infection is a lifelong problem and will require medicated baths and other treatment for the rest of the dog's life. That is correct if the affected areas are not taken care of properly and the dog continues to receive the same food and medical care that led to the Malassezia flare up.

To prevent this problem from coming back as soon as it is cleared up, you need to change your dog's diet so that he no longer is eating foods that make yeast proliferate. Any dog food with grains, a carbohydrate filler, or high fructose corn syrup should be avoided.

Your dog will not need medicated baths once his infection is eliminated but you can use coconut oil from time to time to control the yeast. If your dog has inhalant allergies and this problem only shows up in the summer, apply coconut oil between the toes and on the inner ear flaps twice a week.

The Best Food for a Dog With Yeast Overgrowth

In order to keep your dogs yeast infection from coming back you need to switch from a commercial diet that has grains, sugars, cheap fillers, and ”moist and meaty” products with high fructose corn syrup. I recommend a paleo-type natural raw diet based on whatever natural meat sources you can obtain in your area.

  • Most of your dogs diet should be meat and bones. You can give him chicken necks and feet, chicken wings, ox tails, trachea and lungs from cows, raw tripe, whole rabbits or Egyptian quail, and if you live in a rural area you can buy old laying hens for just a few dollars each. If you live in the city you can usually buy large bags of chicken wings for a low price.
  • Meat from organs (liver and kidneys) should be given occasionally. If you do buy whole chickens or feed rabbits, your dog will consume enough organ meat without buying extra organ meat from the butcher.
  • Vegetables mixed in with his diet will provide all of the fiber that your dog needs. Add a tablespoon of fresh yogurt every time you serve him a plate of veggies.
  • Your dog will get a little coconut oil from licking his skin but fish oil is also a great source of fatty acids.

Feeding raw does not need to be expensive! It is easier to put down a bowl of processed dog food but it is not much harder to feed your dog correctly. I have talked to several people that are unwilling to feed their dog a healthy raw diet. They are usually unwilling to change because of the lecture they received from a previous vet.

If you still want to feed your dog a diet to control his yeast but must cook your dogs diet, you can use most of the same ingredients but will have to add another calcium source since you cannot add cooked bones. When bones are cooked they will become brittle and may hurt your dog when swallowed.

What Kind of Treatment Will My Dog Get at the Vet?

If you do take your dog to the vet for treatment, he is probably going to recognize the Malassezia infestation right away because of the smell. If the vet tells you he should swab the skin you need to decline. Why? Yeast are a normal part of the skin and a test might show how many of the Malasezzia bodies are on the slide but it will always come up positive.

If the vet thinks that the skin also looks like a mange infection, he may recommend that he scrape the skin in several spots and examine it under a microscope. He may also notice that your dog has a secondary staph infection of the skin and may put him on more antibiotics.

This disease is usually diagnosed based on response to therapy. Your vet will probably start out with the same shampoo mentioned above. If the yeast do not respond to shampoo therapy, he may then prescribe an antifungal drug that is meant to kill all of the yeast of the skin. Some of the commonly prescribed drugs are ketoconazole, fluconazole, and itraconazole; they are given a few weeks after the dog is no longer showing any symptoms. Dogs usually have to take the medication at least a month.

All drugs have side effects and these antifungal drugs might clear up the yeast, but they can cause a lot more problems too. They might cause vomiting, diarrhea, liver damage, and even skin problems. Isn't that what you are trying to get rid of?

Are Some Breeds More Likely to Develop Yeast Infections?

If your dog has a lot of folds in his skin and also has allergies, he is a prime candidate for a yeast infection. This is why the Shar-Pei has yeast infections so often. French Bulldogs have a lot of folds and are also subject to problems so those areas prone to yeast need to be kept clean.

Yeast is also seen often in German Shepherd Dogs, Shih Tzus, Dachshunds, and some terriers. I have seen many cases in West Highland White Terriers, especially dogs suffering from allergies and chronic ear infections.

Symptoms That Indicate a Yeast Overgrowth

  • Stinky skin
  • Itching and scratching. This is mild at first, and as the infection gets worse so does the scratching.
  • A brown discoloration around the base of the toenails
  • Hair loss and thick, darkened skin in the underarms, around his back legs, and anywhere else the skin meets in a fold.
  • Scaly dandruff
  • Oily skin

A dog’s behavior may change with the onset of chronic health issues because they feel so lousy.

Will I Get Yeast From My Dog?

You are not going to catch a yeast infection from your dog. There has been a reported case of a person working in a nursery and carrying the yeast from her sick dog to the newborns in intensive care. If you have any health problems (AIDs or a disease that has left you immunocompromised), or you are on any medications that have damaged your immune system, you need to consider safety precautions.

Can I Really Treat This at Home?

At times, like when your dog is vomiting blood, has a bad cut, or needs to be spayed, it is a great thing to have a vet that can help. When your dog has a yeast infection, however, it is not an emergency and can be treated at home without going to the vet.

Why did your dog develop a yeast infection?

See results


Conventional treatment: Etienne Côté DVM, Clinical Veterinary Advisor, Dogs and Cats, 2nd Edition, Elsevier, 2011

Toxicity of fungal medications: Stephen Ettinger DVM, Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 6th Edition, Saunders, 2005

Allergies: Chiari Noli DVM, Veterinary Allergy, Wiley Blackwell, 2014

Secondary Infections: Stephen Barr DVM, Clinical Companion Canine and Feline Infectious Diseases, Blackwell, 2006

Holistic Therapies: Richard Pitcairn DVM, Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, 3rd Edition, Rodale, 2005

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 I spray the ACV mix in the dog's ears to treat a yeast infection?

    Yes, the ears can be cleaned with diluted ACV. The acidic product will make it difficult for yeast and bacteria to thrive in the ear canal.

  • My dog is allergic to ACV and coconut oil, amongst many other things. What would you recommend for her yeast problem?

    You can try to replace the coconut oil with aloe vera. Try to grow your own and when you have bathed your dog and removed the excess wax try to coat the area with the gel from the middle part of an aloe leaf. Try a small spot only, check it during the day and the next day to make sure there is no inflammation or swelling due to contact allergy.

  • How often do I spray apple cider vinegar on my dog to treat a yeast infection?

    You should bathe your dog as needed, depending on how oily the skin is. If the skin becomes stinky just a few days after bathing, do so again.

    The ACV spray should be applied every day until this condition clears up. You can also apply the coconut oil every day after spraying.

  • When we lived in a townhouse with natural light coming in my bulldog never got a yeast infection; since we moved into a basement and we don't get much natural light, he started getting yeast infections all over his back. Could us moving into a basement be the cause of his yeast infection?

    Is it the cause? No. Is it a contributing factor? Most likely. Dogs pick up a lot of skin infections in some environments, none at all in others.

    My Pitbull likes to go out and find a nice spot to lie in the sun, even when it is a hot day. Does your bulldog get a chance to bask in the sun? If he just likes to hang around you, consider taking a book or newspaper to the park and sitting outside with him for a half hour each day.


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    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      12 hours ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Khatarina, have you tried bathing her in colloidal oatmeal? If this is not possible because of how sensitive she is, I would try regular water. Sometimes it is just a matter of removing the allergens on the skin and the dog feels better. If you can use oatmeal, it is best left on 10 or 15 minutes.

      Not sure how she will do with the ACV since it is kind of acidic and might irritate her skin. I would defnitely try coconut oil in the meantime in any dry/irritated areas.

      It sounds like you are doing a great job. She is a lucky dog to have found you.

    • Khatarina profile image


      2 days ago

      My rescue lab is allergic to a myriad of items, and, on top of this, she was grossly fat when I got her, which has resulted in a lot of loose skin around the neck and elbows. She is currently on apoquel to try to control the itching, and a switch to a kangaroo-based food has helped, but only somewhat.

      Unfortunately, she is apparently also allergic to something in all shampoos (from hypoallergenic sensitive skin ones, to the 'special' ones the vet keeps trying to force on me. Even SLS-free shampoos have caused reactions.) He refuses to believe me when I tell him this, and behaves as if I am willfully refusing to try to make her better, like I enjoy having to listen to her scratch and chew at herself all day, and the way she looks. To complicate this, the SPCA has become involved, due to some busybody who couldn't just come and ask what was wrong with her, and as far as they're concerned, I should be willing to drop a couple thousand (that I don't have) to deal with it, or rehome her. (IF I even found anyone willing to take an older, unattractive animal with behavioural challenges, who is going to cost them two or three hundred $ a month, she would then turn mean because of her severe separation anxiety.)

      I use baking soda to bathe her, but is there something else I could use, in lieu of the shampoo? Or just that and the ACV? I haven't tried that so far, because of how irritated the skin was, but it might be a viable option, now.

    • profile image

      Jenn Steeley 

      5 weeks ago

      I have tried coconut oil on dogs paws and backside area. I have changed her diet. She gets yogurt daily. Acidophilus is in her diet also now. Occasionally i mix in apple cider vinegar/water soaked towel and apply to feet. I bathe her weekly, and make sure to dry her completely. NOTHING is working. I dont know what else to do. Any suggestions..? (Harley is my 2 yr old american bulldog).

    • profile image

      Pat Sager 

      6 weeks ago

      It's a long story about "Lucy" fungus agony with trying everything including Vet's Apoquel and Topamax treatments which became ineffective after three or four months. Vets never admitted it's a fungus. When I discovered on my own and in desperation, that it is a fungus, I educated myself via the net and we women understand fungus. I reasoned that Miconazole might work so I began looking into that along with people's recommendations for vinegar, coconut oil, etc. Well, diluted vinegar set her on fire and we had to get it off her and coconut oil made her a walking grease ball. I was fed up with all that and felt hopeless but went to a farm supply and got Miconazole spray. I also had a myriad of other products such as peroxide shampoo, etc. I shampooed with a combo that made her break out and had to shampoo that out but don't know which combo did it. I was hoping it wasn't the miconazole. After more research, I saw MiconazoleHex! and saw good reports on it so got the spray. Holy cow, what a difference! The shampoo might have been easier but first time I used the spray, started seeing a difference almost right away. The spray didn't get every spot but I hit the worst spots. To make the spray stretch, I sprayed her black undersides and spread it with my hands the started going after other spots such as her pits. I didn't get every spot but she improved tremendously...almost no itching. I spent a lot of money before I got the real answer. MiconazoleHex is a little pricey but my future vet bills and other costs will be greatly reduced in the future. I'm going the buy the shampoo also but right now the spray is great. You can get it from your vet but it's sold over the counter on-line. Vet suppliers say it's prescription but I discovered that other sites sell it. My other go-to for any raw spots or sores your dog may acquire for any reason can be treated safely and successfully with diluted Equate First Aid Antiseptic povidone iodine solution...same thing used in hospitals to paint skin in areas they are working on. Vet says it's safe for people and animals. Feel like a big load off our shoulders and less financial burden.

    • profile image

      Gary Rokuta 

      6 weeks ago

      I do know that my dog's immune system was compromised by indiscriminately vaccinating by vets here on Oahu as her 1st was a 6 shots in one called a cocktail or whombo combo that should never be given to any dog. My fault? Too long of a story but she had another from the breeder before that cocktail and not sure of that one but after the last one being a DAP, and she, the vet said was going to be a distemper, parvo but when i seen bill, had that Adeno included. Lying bitch, but I ended up being banned from there in Kailua, Hawaii 96734. You think she or the first vet cares? Of course not.... then began her itching, big time.....and she has been on raw lamb for a long time and staying away from conventional veterinary meds and no more vaccines, but to titer or to check for the most dangerous cores still having antibodies instead, not vaccinating. For now, that' s it! She will be 6 in November and will be kept intact with close veterinary care as suggested by Dr. Benjamin Hart, professor, UC DAVIS School of Veterinary Medicine and their many years of research with golden retrievers, esp the females that had most significant amounts of cancers that they followed, as said, while 3 percent still got cancers, ones that were spayed had 4 times that of the 3 percent, so he said in an email to me, if he was Brandy 2's caregiver, he would not have her spayed, but said it would be with close veterinary care...

    • profile image


      6 weeks ago

      My ginger bulldog has been on your program for several weeks, she is active and happy but her skin looks worse. I tried a 24 hr kale & yogurt detox for her kidneys & liver, because articles said the dying yeast causes them to be toxic and to continue the program. Is it true she will look worse for a period as the yeast dies off?

    • profile image


      8 weeks ago

      Blossom thanks you for sharing we will let you know how it goes

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      2 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Thanks for stopping by, Angie.

    • Angie Mayo profile image

      Angie Mayo 

      2 months ago from Victoria Australia

      Thank You Very Much!!

    • profile image


      2 months ago

      Thank you! You have simplified the advice I have also spent $$$ for. Bathe, spray, coconut oil, REPEAT!

      Our girl is a rescue and after seeing what she looked like before we adopted her, I understand why she has skin issues! Now we’re working to keep her happy and healthy.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      3 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Lucy, you can definitely use dilute ACV to clean and acidify the ear (about half water, half ACV), Coconut oil helps heal the scratches on the ear flap, and this is usually common in dogs with ear infections since they do itch.

    • profile image


      3 months ago

      My labradoodle was allergy tested and the result was she was allergic to yeast. Her ears are always bothering her and smelly, I clean them everyday but it is not going away. She also licks her paws constantly. Is the ACV and coconut oil ok to use in her ears?

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      5 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Kris, bathe the dog depending on how oily the skin is. If the skin becomes stinky just a few days after bathing, do so again.

      The ACV spray should be done every day until this clears up. You can also apply the coconut oil every day.

    • profile image


      5 months ago

      How often should this treatment be done?

    • Mike Hardy profile image

      Mike Hardy 

      7 months ago from Caseville, Michigan

      Brilliant. We have two Shih Tzu's, one male, one female. The female will smell like corn chips from time to time but the male does not smell but gets crazy in the summer. Great advice. Bookmarked!

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      8 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Hi Marie, yes, it is a good idea to wait on the vinegar. The chlorhexidine is a good disinfectant to use in the meantime in those raw areas, but as soon as it looks a little better try to spray something acidic on the skin.

      Dogs do not need a carb source, but if you want a filler brown rice is probably your best choice. What veggies are you giving? Root crops like sweet potatoes and potatoes are not a good idea since they are feeding the yeast. Green leafy veggies are best.

      I hope she feels better.

    • profile image


      8 months ago

      You have just told me for free what I have paid close to $500 AUD to a specialist Vet for, Mark.

      By the time I realised what was happening, she was over-run with these patches of scaly crusty patches, which were hidden because of her thick curly coat.

      I am now spraying her daily with a mix of Chlorhexidine, but only after I laboriously try to remove the crusty patches to allow the antiseptic to work on her skin. It is usually red underneath the crusts.

      I was advised that it is a staph infection and that it is not passed on to other dogs.

      Thank you so much Mark for the most informative article. I shall start on the coconut oil tomorrow. I will have to wait to use the vinegar as she has several red raw patches.

      I have switched to feeding her mainly sardines. . .mixed with brown rice and vegies.

    • patchofearth profile image

      Rebecca Long 

      8 months ago from somewhere in the appalachian foothills

      This is an amazing article. I had a dog with recurring ear infection. The vet would sniff the dog's ear to see if it was fungal or bacterial. I wish I had known this stuff. I could have saved myself a lot of money on vet care and the dog might not have been so miserable so often. Thanks for the info.


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