The yeast organism, Malassezia pachydermatis, is always present on your dog’s skin and in his ears. Under normal conditions, this amount of yeast is small and does not cause problems for your dog. However, when these normal conditions change, the yeast multiplies and leads to infection.
While many conditions -- immune deficiency, hormonal imbalances, medications or contact with chemicals -- can increase the yeast population, another common cause is an increase in skin oils due to allergies. Your vet will prescribe medication to treat the overgrowth of yeast but, if yeast infections occur on a regular basis, it is essential to determine the underlying cause and treat that as well.
As many as 10 percent of all cases relate to food. The most common dog food allergens are beef, chicken, dairy, egg, fish, pork, soy and wheat. In many cases, a dog may be allergic to more than one ingredient. Unfortunately, these are common ingredients in most dog foods so determining which food may be causing your dog’s allergy requires an elimination diet. You may ask yourself, “How can my dog be allergic to something in his food? He has eaten the same thing his whole life.” Allergies in dogs take time to develop and while he may have been eating the same food for as long as you can remember, that food may now be causing problems.
If your veterinarian suspects a food allergy, he will recommend an elimination diet. This takes time and patience and is something you have to commit to for the long haul in order to determine what food or foods may be triggering the allergy. An elimination diet includes one protein and one carbohydrate source that your dog does not normally eat. You will need to determine the ingredients in his normal food and serve something different, such as venison and peas or another non-traditional alternative. Serve only these two ingredients at mealtime for the course of the diet. If the culprit is a food allergy, symptoms will improve. After a few weeks, introduce a new protein or carbohydrate, one at a time, to the diet and look for symptoms to return, signifying an allergy. During an elimination diet, it is essential not to serve any treats or edible bones.
If you suspect a yeast infection due to food allergies, consult your veterinarian to treat the yeast and discuss a possible elimination diet. For many dogs with food allergies, homemade diets become a necessary option to avoid serving the foods responsible for the allergy. If you must feed a homemade diet, talk with your vet or canine nutritionist to ensure you are meeting your dog’s nutritional needs. Your vet may recommend nutritional supplements.
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