Medically Reviewed by Dr. Majid Tanveer, DVM
Have you owned a dog and had this happen? You keep them well-exercised and healthy. Then the excessive scratching, biting and licking all start. These are all signs that your dog is trying to make themselves feel better from a yeast infection.
Luckily for dog owners, there are a few remedies that you can try to help ease the symptoms of a yeast infection. One of the best remedies, and one of the easiest to pick up, is yogurt. You can even find it at your local grocery store or supermarket.
But how much yogurt should you feed your dog if you suspect it has a yeast infection? And how often? Read on to find out what you should do to help keep your dog happy and itch-free.
What Are Yeast Infections?
Before learning how yogurt can help treat your dog’s yeast infection, it is best to know what it is. Dr. Becker with Mercola Healthy pets explains it best, but to make it easier to understand… It is like an overgrown lawn.
Like humans, dogs have many microorganisms that live in their bodies. Most of these hang around and never cause any problems. A lot are even suitable for your dog’s health!
One of these organisms is yeast, a fungus that is usually found in your dog’s stomach or on their skin. Yeast is one of those organisms that, when in balance, promote digestion and movement of food. But a yeast infection occurs when this fungus grows out of control.
According to Pet MD, signs that your dog is experiencing a yeast infection can include the following:
- Red, irritated, or itchy skin or ears
- Hair loss
- A sweet or musty smell (mainly from the ears)
- Discharge from the affected site, including paw pads or ears
- Frequent scratching or rubbing
What Causes Yeast Infections?
Many things can cause an overgrowth in yeast, and thus infection, in dogs. This can be because of immune system suppression, often due to antibiotics. This seems a little bit weird, right?
Antibiotics, by their nature, prevent or treat infections, not cause them. But the truth is the opposite can happen. Antibiotics also tend to destroy the beneficial bacteria in a dog’s gut. These bacteria keep the yeast under control, so take that away, and there is a complete overgrowth of yeast.
Yeast infections of the skin are often caused in wet or moist areas. These include the skin folds of ‘wrinkly’ dogs, between the toes and paw pads, or inside the ears. Unlike stomach-related yeast infections, skin infections often respond to allergies or other environmental factors.
A yeast skin infection may also be caused by an increase in the amount of oil produced on the skin. This is often due to seborrhea oleosa, a condition in which the sebaceous glands produce too much sebum. Allergic skin diseases can also cause an increase in oil production, leading to this type of infection.
Environmental allergies suppress your dog’s immune system allowing yeast infections to arise. Allergens include pollens, mold, dust, cleaning products, mites, and certain foods. Dog foods high in sugar and carbs more often lead to yeast infections, as this is what yeast feeds on.
Steroids or illnesses can also cause yeast infections. Since both affect the immune system, dog owners must know how to interact with their bodies.
Contact your vet if you think your dog is experiencing a yeast infection. They can help change the steroids or discover why your dog is sick. This will help their immune system return to normal so they can focus on the yeast infection.
Yeast loves to grow in moist and warm environments. This means that water dogs will often be more prone to infections than others. Being bathed too often counts as both wet and warm, so keep an eye out and ensure you are drying your dog all the way.
Poor hygiene, humid weather, and using ear products can also change the natural environment of the ear. These all can also lead to yeast infections.
Other causes of yeast infections can be blockages. Yeast, bacteria, and other debris can become blocked inside the ear canal when not dried properly. Blockages include trapped wax, discharge, matted hair, or other foreign objects. Ensure you check your dog’s ears daily to help prevent infections or catch them early on.
Due to genetics or various body traits, some dogs are more prone to yeast infections than others. Dog breeds with floppy ears, excess skin folds, long or thick hair in the ear canal, or a genetic predisposition to atopic dermatitis are all at risk. These breeds include Shih Tzus, Cocker Spaniels, Schnauzers, English Bulldogs, Pugs, Bloodhounds, and more.
Can I Treat Yeast Infections At Home?
It is essential to check with your veterinarian to see if your dog does have a yeast infection. Luckily there are many ways to treat yeast infections at home or head it off before it starts.
Making sure you are treating the cause of the yeast infection is the most important. Taking proper care of your dog and checking for food or environmental allergies is vital. Even better is giving your dog’s body tools to ‘fight’ back before the infection gets out of control.
One of the simplest and easiest ways to help your dog combat a yeast infection is to offer them yogurt. With probiotics and ‘good’ bacteria, yogurt can help your dog’s body regulate itself. It can even help prevent yeast infections in the first place if used as a part of your dog’s diet.
What Are The Benefits of Yogurt?
One of the most significant benefits of yogurt is that it is inexpensive. Even when used as a prophylactic, it won’t break the bank to feed your dog. And even if your dog doesn’t finish it all, you or your kiddos can polish it off.
Yogurt is also well tolerated by most dogs. If your dog is not lactose intolerant, they can likely eat yogurt. This means that, unlike most medications or treatments, it won’t make things worse for your dog. They’ll even enjoy the extra treat during the healing process!
Filled with probiotics, yogurt promotes a healthy gut. Yeast infections start in the stomach, so keeping the gut balance is vital to prevention. Probiotics also help your dog’s body absorb nutrients and boost immunity. Both of these also help prevent or heal yeast infections.
How Much Yogurt is Good to Give Your Dog?
Many factors influence how much yogurt you should give your dog. This includes activity level, other health issues, weight and size, and more. You want to ensure you provide enough yogurt to help with a yeast infection but not too much. That might make things worse!
First, figure out the nutritional needs of your dog. Yogurt should make up no more than ten percent of your dog’s daily calories. This would mean about one spoonful of yogurt for a small dog, two for a medium dog, and three for a big dog.
Start with less and work up to the total amount to prevent tummy troubles. You don’t want to deal with diarrhea or an upset stomach if you are simultaneously dealing with a yeast infection.
Yogurt is best when mixed in with your dog’s routine, whether kibble or raw feeding. Dump it on top or spoon it with their morning or evening meal.
You can also make frozen yogurt treats by taking the frozen spoonfuls and letting your dog eat that way. Some dogs will lick it out of a toy, such as a Kong, though this can be messy.
What are the signs of a yeast infection in a dog?
Excessive itching, licking, and scratching are all yeast infection signs. You may also notice hair loss, a sweet or musty smell, or a yellowish discharge.
What kind of yogurt should I give to my dog?
Pick something without sugar in it. Non or low-fat yogurt is best. Remember, anything with sugar in it will feed the yeast and cause more overgrowth!
How much yogurt should I give my dog for a yeast infection?
Depending on the dog’s size, you should give them between 1 and 3 tablespoons daily. The rule of thumb is one tablespoon for a small dog, 2 for a medium one, and 3 for a large dog.
What should I know before giving my dog yogurt?
Please check with your veterinarian for what may be causing your dog’s yeast infection. Also, start slow; some dogs may be lactose intolerant and not tolerate yogurt well.
I hope this article has helped you understand the benefits of giving your dog yogurt for yeast infections. Or maybe you learned how to prevent one by using yogurt before it starts.
Did you know we have other healthy pet tips and tricks? Need to know how to deal with a dog that has diarrhea at night? Or maybe your dog is drinking too fast, and you need ways to slow them down.
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