Thrush In Dogs

by Betty Lewis
    The ears are prime breeding grounds for yeast infections.

    The ears are prime breeding grounds for yeast infections.

    Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

    Thrush, candidiasis and yeast infection: They all mean the same thing, which is that too much yeast is somewhere in your dog's body. It's normal for Duke to have some candida, a sugar-digesting yeast, in certain parts of his body. However, sometimes the yeast gets out of control, making him very uncomfortable.

    Candida: The Smart Yeast

    Duke's ears, mouth, nose, digestive system and genital tract have a variety of flora growing in them, including candida. This yeast takes advantage of any opportunity to expand its borders and can be limited to one part of the body, or local, or it can be systemic, colonizing the entire body. One small vulnerability can open the door for candida to spread, prolonged exposure to hot humid weather, immunosuppressive and metabolic illness, skin trauma such as a burn, bacterial infection and allergies are among the common causes of various types of thrush. Breed and age don't matter: Thrush likes any dog.

    It's Malodorous

    The dog suffering from thrush is suffering, indeed. The symptoms depend on where his yeast infection has settled. If Duke has an ear infection, he'll shake and scratch his head frequently to try and get relief from the itch he's feeling. If he has candida in his mouth, you'll notice a lot more drooling than usual. His skin may be oily, inflamed or show hair loss. Your pup's behavior may change because he's uncomfortable or in pain, resulting in decreased appetite and weight loss, depression, anxiety and aggression. A dog with a yeast infection tends to scratch a lot because the yeast overgrowth is very itchy. Duke may dig at his toes, scratch the affected area or scoot across the floor. Your nose can clue you in; people compare the smell of a yeast infection to things such as corn chips and moldy bread. Regardless of what it's reminiscent of, everyone agrees it's an unwelcome odor.

    Diagnosis and Treatment

    Before Duke is treated for thrush, the vet will have to confirm the dog has candidiasis. Diagnosing a yeast infection can include a skin biopsy, a urine sample and an ear swab. When the vet confirms a yeast infection, he'll put together a treatment plan that may include antifungal, antibiotic and anti-yeast medication. The medication may be topical, such as benzoyl peroxide or boric acid, or in the form of a pill, dip, cream, lotion, shampoo, rinse, spray or powder.

    Don't Feed the Yeast

    After Duke's finished his course of treatment, the vet may want to revisit the affected areas and take new cultures to ensure he's cured of his thrush. A strong defense can be the best offense against yeast infections. Diet can play an important part of minimizing outbreaks in a dog prone to candidiasis. Dr. Karen Becker says on her namesake website, Healthy Pets With Dr. Karen Becker, that yeast thrives on sugar; carbohydrates break down into sugar, so watching his carb intake can go a long way. Dr. Becker recommends avoiding food with "hidden sugar" such as potatoes, wheat, rice and corn. If Duke has floppy ears, such as basset hounds, poodles, cocker spaniels and other breeds do, check them regularly for odor, swelling and discharge.

    Photo Credits

    • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Betty Lewis is a writer and editor specializing in pet care, animals, careers and emergency management. She previously ran an animal shelter, where she also served as a kennel attendant and dog trainer. Lewis holds a bachelor's degree in journalism, an M.B.A. and a master's degree in professional studies.

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