Yeast Infection in Dogs: Dealing with Yeast Infection in Your German Shepherd

Yeast Infection in dogs isn’t very uncommon. Although this health condition is often seen in Bulldogs, Shar Peis, and some Brachycephalic dog breeds, yeast infection can affect German Shepherds too.

Yeast Infection in Dogs - Yeast Infection in German Shepherds

Koda,a female German Shepherd, was suffering from yeast infection. She and her son, Sam, were taken in by the Southeast German Shepherd Rescue in 2014 and were later on adopted. (Southeast German Shepherd Rescue/Facebook)

The Immune System and the Development of Yeast Infection in Dogs

Yeast infection or overgrowth often happens to dogs with underactive immune system. There is a health immune system spectrum in which the likeliness of the body to fight off diseases and “body invaders” is measured.

You will probably assume that the best way to keep your German Shepherd in top shape is to make his immune system very active, but that actually has its cons. To be considered healthy, your German Shepherd’s immune system must be in the middle or balanced. An underactive immune system can lead your German Shepherd to contract or develop bacterial or viral diseases. Aside from that, having an underactive immune system can lead your German Shepherd to develop yeast overgrowth and infection. On the other hand, an overactive immune system can trigger allergic reactions – even to the most random things. However, overactive immune systems can also lead to yeast infection.

The Role of Steroids and Antibiotics in the Development of Yeast Infection in Dogs

Developing allergies is considered a sign of an overactive immune system. Sometimes, if the allergy is severe, vets would prescribe corticosteroids to stop the immune response. While this medication does help it decreasing itching, swelling, and inflammation, it also shut downs your German Shepherd’s immune system. This means that, your German Shepherd’s body cannot regulate itself and cannot balance its normal flora levels – making him prone to developing diseases and yeast overgrowth.

Sometimes dogs who suffer from allergies develop a bacterial infection in the skin. Of course, aside from prescribing antihistamines, vets would often prescribe antibiotics as well to deal with the skin infection. But, antibiotics do not kill harmful bacteria alone; they also kill the good ones. The lack of good bacteria in the skin can lead to the decrease of healthy yeast levels, and this can sometimes make your German Shepherd’s skin problem worse.

Allergy to Own Yeast

When a dog develops an allergy to his or her own yeast, the immune response of the body has the tendency to affect the dog’s way of living. This condition will need a more complicated treatment. A German Shepherd who is allergic to his own yeast has skin that is red all over – from the nose to the tip of the tail. Vets can verify this condition by doing an Intradermal test. This further proves that an immune system balance is essential to keep your German Shepherd’s health at peak.

Signs of Yeast Infection in Dogs

Smell

Yeast has a particular smell and you it’s easy to recognize it by smelling your German Shepherd’s feet. Yeast in dogs can smell like any of the following:

  • Cheese,
  • Corn chips,
  • Popcorn,
  • Moldy Bread,
  • Or other similar smell.

If you are not familiar with the term “Frito Feet”, it is a term dog owners use to describe their dogs’ corn-chip-smelling feet. While “Frito Feet” can be common in dogs, the smell is entirely different from the usual dog smell.

Scratching and Licking

If your German Shepherd is feeling intensely itchy – especially to the point that he or she is losing fur and is accompanied by a yeasty smell – it is a possible sign of yeast overgrowth. A dog who has yeast infection on his rear end or groin may start scooting to ease the itch and discomfort. A dog who has yeast infection in his ears will scratch his ears as much as he could, while a dog with yeast infection in between his toes may try licking them or biting them. Do note that itching can also be a sign of other dog skin issues like mange and presence of external parasites too, so a diagnosis from the vet is necessary before treatment.

Diagnosis

If you think your German Shepherd is suffering from yeast infections, the best way to confirm his or her condition is to take him or her to the veterinarian. Your German Shepherd will most likely undergo a skin swab/skin scrape test and the samples gathered from that will be examined under a microscope. Your vet may also choose to culture a sterile swab of the skin and grow it in a petri dish to identify it.

Read: Ear Mites in German Shepherds

Getting Rid of Yeast Infection in Dogs

Change Your German Shepherd’s Diet

In most cases –especially if your German Shepherd has yeast infection all over his body –changing the diet is almost always necessary. In food, there is something we call sugar. This dietary sugar is different from the white, fine and sweet stuff we put in our coffee. This sugar is what yeasts feed on.

And to help stop yeast from growing or multiplying, a change in diet may be necessary. Most dog foods contain carbohydrates, which break down into the sugar we are talking about. Removing or decreasing the amount of these sugars out of your German Shepherd’s diet reduces the chance of yeast overgrowth and infection. Veterinarians may recommend checking the label of the food you plan to give your German Shepherd. Avoid dog foods that contain high fructose corn syrup, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, and honey.

For severe cases of yeast infection in dogs, getting him or her on a wholly sugar-free diet may be necessary. A lot of dog foods available on the market contain fillers such as corn, rice, potatoes, and wheat. Instead of feeding those products to your German Shepherd, select foods that contain low-glycemic veggies. Creating your own recipe for your German Shepherd is also a good idea.

Mixing ‘Anti-Fungal’ Ingredients in Your German Shepherd’s Food

Changing your German Shepherd’s diet is necessary to keep the yeast infection away, mixing some anti-fungal ingredients may also help. Ingredients such as garlic, oregano, apple cider vinegar, and Brewer’s yeast are known to have anti-fungal and anti-yeast properties that can help you German Shepherd’s body deal with yeast infection.

Read: Types of Mange in Dogs: Treatment for Mange in Dogs

Dealing with Yeast Infection in Specific Parts of the Body

Yeast thrives where there is moisture and has little to no air circulation. This is why yeast infection often starts in the ears, in between the digits of the paws and paw pads, armpits, groin creases, and the area around the vulva. Since these areas are often moist and have little ventilation, keeping them clean and dry is important – especially on hot days.

Getting Rid of Yeast Infection in the Ears

German Shepherd ears are standing up, and it makes their sense of hearing a bit stronger. Not only does perked up ears have benefits to hearing, they are also less prone to developing infections compared to floppy ears because there is more ventilation. But despite this advantage – although rare – German Shepherds can still develop a yeast infection in their ears.  If your German Shepherd has a yeast infection in his ears, then your veterinarian may prescribe medicated ointment, cream, or drops.

But before applying either of those medications, it is important to clean and disinfect your German Shepherd’s ears first to remove debris and dead of layers of yeast. This way, the medication can effectively kill or control the growth of yeast in the ears. Cleaning and medication should be done at least twice a day.

Once the yeast infection subsides, it is very important to clean your German Shepherd’s ears regularly to help stop it from coming back.

Dealing with Yeast Infection in the Paws

To deal with yeast infection in the paws, you can try soaking your German Shepherd’s paws in a water-peroxide solution.  Just mix a cup of hydrogen peroxide and 1 to 4 cups of white vinegar in a gallon of water. Soak your German Shepherd’s feet in it for at least five minutes. Do not forget to dry the paws.

Bathing Dogs with Yeast Infection in the Skin

In case your German Shepherd is suffering from yeast infection all over his or her body, a combination of change in diet, vitamins, medication, and special bath may be needed. Bathing your German Shepherd using an anti-fungal shampoo 1 to 3 times per week should help. Make sure to skip the oatmeal variant of dog shampoo. Use one that has tea tree oil instead.

After bathing with medicated shampoo, wash your yeasty German Shepherd using an anti-yeast rinse.  To make one, just mix 1 cup of vinegar or lemon juice with a gallon of water. You may also mix 20 drops of peppermint essential oil in it to make the rinse smell pleasant. Pour the mixture on your German Shepherd’s body and rub it on spots like the armpits, groin, in between the paw pads, and others.  Do not forget to dry your German Shepherd after bathing.

Seasonal and Recurrent Yeast Infection in Dogs

Many dogs who suffer from yeast infections get it during hot and humid seasons only. So taking extra care during the summer is a good idea to prevent yeast infection in your German Shepherd.

Some dogs, however, are not as lucky. If your German Shepherd has been experiencing yeast infection all year long, taking him or her to vet is the best you can do to check if he or she has immune system problems.

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