If your dog has chronic yeast infections and you've been told to change her diet, you may be wondering how what she is eating could be causing trouble in her ears. If what's eating her is what's she's eating, it could be due to allergies or sensitivities to certain foods.
Yeast infections can appear on your dog's skin or ears, in between the toes or around his flews. Yeast thrives in warm, moist places. If your dog has a lot of drool, or wrinkles, or if he has floppy ears, you have to be especially careful these are ideal places for yeast to hide and can harbor a yeast outbreak long before you detect it. To rid your dog of a yeast problem it's important to deny the yeast the elements it needs to grow. Sometimes this means changing his diet because food allergies are a common cause of skin and ear yeast infections. However, if your dog is fighting a yeast infection, take him to the vet for assessment and treatment as yeast infections can turn into serious health problems if left untreated. Once his treatment is underway, you can begin an elimination diet.
An elimination diet is a process whereby you stop all foods your dog regularly eats and then slowly add each ingredient back into his diet to see which one is causing the problem. There are foods you can give your dog to help rid him of yeast while he's undergoing treatment for the infection, but it's important to stop giving him whatever is causing the problem to begin with. Common dog food products that cause food allergies include beef, dairy and wheat. Less common products include soy, egg, chicken, lamb, pork and fish. Some dogs can be allergic to more than one ingredient. Also, ingredients that are fine for one dog may cause trouble in another.
The BARF diet, also known as the bones and raw foods diet or biologically approved raw food, is controversial due to pathogen concerns. The idea behind the BARF diet is that you feed your dog nothing but human-grade raw meat and bones because, so goes the theory, dogs are carnivores and raw meat is what nature intended for them to eat. The good thing about the BARF diet is that it doesn't include all the grains and fillers to which many dogs are allergic. However, it's the way the protein in the specific meat interacts with your dog's immune system that causes the problem. So, your dog may be able to eat raw chicken but not raw beef. One of the drawbacks of the BARF diet is that you have to be very careful about handling the meat since salmonella and tapeworms are a concern. In fact, it is so much a concern that Pet Partners, formerly the Delta Society, an international organization that certifies animals for therapy programs, doesn't allow its members to feed their dogs a BARF diet due to concerns of spreading pathogens to patients. Vegetarians and vegans who would like to feed their dogs a plant-based diet can also try the BARF diet if it is done properly and the right combination of foods is used to create protein, such as rice and beans.
Just like yogurt is good for people with yeast infections, it can be helpful for dogs too. Beware of yogurt, however, because some dogs have an allergy to dairy, or it can cause gastrointestinal problems if your dog is lactose intolerant. If you do feed your dog yogurt, use plain yogurt. If your dog is overweight, use a non-fat or low-fat yogurt. Start with about a half of a cup of yogurt once a day in addition to his regular food. If he tolerates that well, increase it to about a cup a day. The probiotics in the yogurt will help your dog's natural immunity kick in to kick out the yeast.
Specialty diets are available commercially and have been used with much success among many dog owners who have to deal with chronic yeast infections. There are prescription diet foods and also foods with all kinds of combinations of proteins and carbohydrates such as salmon and sweet potato or lamb and rice as well as non-traditional meat sources such as rabbit, kangaroo, venison or bison that are helpful in avoiding yeast infections as they're frequently the main protein in many hypo-allergenic diets. Experiment to find the one that works best for your dog.
Michelle A. Rivera is the author of many books and articles. She attended the University of Missouri Animal Cruelty School and is certified with the Florida Animal Control Association. She is the executive director of her own nonprofit, Animals 101, Inc. Rivera is an animal-assisted therapist, humane educator, former shelter manager, rescue volunteer coordinator, dog trainer and veterinary technician.