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Battling Yeast Infections

By: Emily Hendren 

Yeast is a fungus that lives inside and outside our dogs as a normal part of their flora. These yeasts live in colonies on their skin, inside the ears, inside the gut, and genitals. Healthy levels of flora are possible thanks to a balanced immune system. It’s when the immune system has been disrupted do we see an overgrowth of yeast in our pets.

This disruption can happen from environmental conditions, through diet, from antibiotics, flea and tick medications, steroids, and other medications as well. The longer your dog’s yeast infection goes untreated, the harder it will be to resolve, so it’s important to look for these early signs.

When yeast populations grow out of control, you’ll start to see the following symptoms in your dog:

  • Scratching the ears or head shaking with a reddish discharge in the ears.

  • Chewing or licking the feet, and dark rusty-red hair between the toes.

  • Cyclic symptoms (appearing in the spring and “going away” in the fall). This is often confused with “grass allergies” and other spring and summer symptoms.

  • Tiny black specks on the underbelly, or grayish or rust coloration around the genitals.

  • Smelly and greasy hair (seborrhea), often accompanied by heavy dandruff.

  • Hair loss on the tail and upper back

  • Black skin, especially where there’s also hair loss.


The first steps in battling yeast begins with improving the diet, limiting the exposure they have to drugs and chemicals, and rebuilding their gut flora. But first we need to go over the yeast die off as it is crucial information to know.

When large numbers of yeast die, their physical remains and the toxins they produce overwhelm the body and it can take days, weeks, and in some cases months for the organs of elimination (liver, kidneys, skin etc.) to catch up. During this time symptoms such as itching or skin breakouts may increase. Dead yeast have close to 30 times the toxins than live ones do so it’s important to be patient but also persistent at the same time to get these buggers out of your dog's body. Providing digestive enzymes between meals (2 hours before or after feeding) will help with the detoxification process as they will eat these dying yeast and help to eliminate them through the feces.

Symptoms of yeast die off include:

  • Exhaustion

  • Body aches

  • Diarrhea and nausea

  • Discharge from the eyes and ears

  • Increase in itching and breakouts

How to begin the battle against yeast

Step 1. Tackle the Diet

Most processed pet foods contain genetically modified ingredients and carbohydrates. The most common GMO foods are beets, alfalfa, corn, soy, and canola. Genetically modified foods are altered so they can be sprayed with glyphosate, an herbicide that kills pests by disabling the Shikimate pathway. Glyphosate is considered to be safe for humans and dogs because we don’t have a Shikimate pathway but the beneficial flora that form our immune systems do. Along with genetically modified ingredients, these foods are also filled with carbs. Carbohydrates are complex chains made up of sugars. When your dog eats carbohydrates their body converts them into sugars and these sugars are what yeast feed and thrive off of. Eliminating all carbohydrates (including fruits and veggies) from the diet will immediately begin to starve the yeast. This is why a raw-PMR- diet is best for dogs with yeast as there’s no carbohydrates recommended.

Step 2. Limit the exposure your dog has to drugs and chemicals and rebuild their gut flora

Things like vaccines, antibiotics, heartworm, flea, and tick meds can disrupt the delicate flora living in your dog so they should be avoided when possible. Rebuilding a healthy gut flora starts when you switch to a raw diet but providing both pre and probiotics along with the diet will greatly improve the gut flora as well.

Note: It’s extremely important to provide prebiotics whenever giving probiotics. Without prebiotics, probiotics won’t work correctly and in some cases can make things worse especially if given too often. The gut has its own “native” probiotics, these are the good bacteria that naturally reside there. Probiotics that are added to the diet are considered to be “transient” bacteria. These “transient” bacteria are only there for a short period of time. Think of them as worker bees sent in to do a job and go home-they work, eat and leave. Without prebiotics to “feed” the workers, the workers will end up eating the food that the “native” bacteria needs to survive. If the “native” bacteria starves, they can begin to eat the intestinal wall which can cause Leaky Gut.

Types of probiotics you can use:

  • Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium

  • Saccharomyces boulardii

  • Soil Based Probiotics

Types of prebiotics you can use:

  • Garlic

  • Larch arabinogalactan

  • Dandelion Root

  • Slippery Elm


Step 3. Relieve symptoms from the outside

  • Use coconut oil. While coconut oil isn't recommended for feeding it can be a great relief to an itchy, yeasty dog when applied topically. Let the coconut oil melt naturally in a glass jar and massage it into the skin.

  • Do an ACV rinse. Combine 2 parts water to 1 part ACV to a bowl or tub. Soak the affected area for 5 minutes. Don't rinse, but do dry thoroughly. DO NOT APPLY THIS TO ANY OPEN SORES OR SCRATCHES!


This is a process that takes some time so please don’t get discouraged if you don’t see improvement straight away. Remember the yeast die off mentioned earlier. Take it slowly and follow your dog's lead. Rest assured that with time all of these yeast problems will be gone for the rest of their life. So don’t give up!

*Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. Should you need any medical advice please consult your vet.*

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