Excessive proliferation of yeast leads to a fungal infection, as yeast is a type of fungus. It’s important to note that this condition in dogs is not contagious, but it does cause intense itching and can worsen if left untreated. So, how can you treat dog foot fungus?
All in all, there are plenty of oral and topical prescribed medications you can use to treat dog foot fungus. In addition, you can add some home remedies to the mix to ease your pup’s pain, such as apple cider vinegar, giving extra attention to hygiene, and creating a toxin-free environment.
Below, we’ll cover everything you need to know about treating your dog’s fungus problem.
Before reading this guide, “How to Treat Dog Foot Fungus,” check out: The 9 Best Medicated Dog Shampoos in 2023! and Why Is My Dog Obsessed With My Feet? (And What to Do About It) (2023).
What Can Cause a Yeast Infection in Your Dog’s Skin?
Scratching, head shaking, and persistent paw licking can indicate that your dog is experiencing discomfort. These symptoms are commonly associated with yeast infections, typically on the paws, ears, armpits, skin folds, and also the hind end of dogs.
Malassezia is a specific type of yeast that naturally resides on a dog’s skin, ears, and anal sacs. Normally, a healthy immune system effectively regulates its growth. However, when the yeast overgrows, it leads to skin irritation and a condition known as yeast dermatitis, characterized by skin inflammation.
Certain dog breeds are more susceptible to yeast infections than others:
- Basset Hounds
- Lhasa Apsos
- Shetland Sheepdogs
- Shih Tzus
- West Highland White Terriers
Nonetheless, yeast infections are not exclusive to these breeds. Any dog can develop a yeast infection due to factors compromising the immune system’s response or disrupting the skin’s natural balance, leading the yeast to multiply and spread.
Below, we’ll cover common causes of yeast infections in dogs.
Allergies are the primary culprits behind dog yeast infections, with common triggers being fleas, certain food ingredients, or environmental substances.
In addition, allergies can cause skin irritation and increase oiliness, making the skin more prone to yeast infection. In some cases, dogs can even develop an allergic reaction to the yeast.
Steroid medications are used to address autoimmune disorders and allergies in dogs. However, these medications suppress the immune system, rendering dogs more susceptible to yeast infections. With a weakened immune system, their ability to fight off germs — including yeast — is also diminished.
The use of antibiotics also plays a significant role in yeast infections. While yeast and beneficial bacteria naturally reside on the skin, antibiotics indiscriminately eliminate helpful and harmful bacteria.
Without healthy bacteria, yeast can flourish unchecked, leading to overgrowth.
Certain underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes and seborrhoeic dermatitis, create an environment that fosters yeast overgrowth, providing an ideal breeding ground for the fungus.
How to Tell When Your Dog Has a Fungal Infection
Like yeast infections in humans, yeast infections can cause significant discomfort for dogs. Persistent itching and scratching indicate that your canine companion may be struggling with a yeast problem.
Here are some additional early-stage signs that your dog is experiencing itchiness due to a yeast infection:
- Biting, along with scratching and licking
- Rubbing their body against furniture
- Vigorous head shaking
- Head tilting
- Scooting their butt along the carpet
As the yeast infection progresses, you may notice the following symptoms:
- Redness and irritation of the skin or the presence of a rash
- Unpleasant odor
- Discharge from the ears
- Sores resulting from excessive scratching
- Brown discoloration of the nails
- Crusty lesions on the skin
- Darkening or thickening of the skin, which may resemble elephant skin
The Best Way to Know if Your Dog Has a Fungal Infection
To accurately determine if your dog has a yeast infection, it is essential to consult a veterinarian. The vet will perform specific diagnostic procedures to confirm the presence of a yeast infection. These methods may include collecting samples from the infected area, such as the ear or skin.
That can happen through swabbing, scraping, adhesive tape, or gently pressing a microscope slide against the skin. Then, the collected sample will be examined under a microscope to identify the presence of yeast and assess its quantity.
How Can You Treat Your Dog’s Fungal Infection?
Two primary types of treatments are available for a dog yeast infection: antifungal pills and topical products such as shampoos and ointments.
Topical treatment might be sufficient for mild cases or infections in small areas. However, oral medication may be necessary if the yeast infection is severe or widespread. Sometimes, a veterinarian will want to treat dog foot fungus with a combination of approaches.
Additionally, drugs to alleviate itching and discomfort can provide relief while the infection is being treated and resolved.
Various topical treatments are available, including shampoos, ointments, and also wipes to address a dog’s yeast infection on the skin.
Follow these general steps when utilizing these treatments:
- If your dog’s skin or fur appears oily, waxy, or scaly, wash them with a degreasing shampoo. This will help eliminate any accumulated residue that may hinder the effectiveness of topical medications.
- Massage an antifungal dog shampoo into the skin for approximately 10 minutes, ensuring thorough coverage, before rinsing it off well. Veterinarians often recommend using a shampoo containing chlorhexidine, a disinfectant that effectively kills germs, once or twice a week.
- Apply a prescribed lotion, cream, spray, or wipe to the infected area daily. Commonly used antifungal medications include miconazole, clotrimazole, ketoconazole, climbazole, and terbinafine.
In some instances, topical medications may not be practical, particularly for dogs that dislike baths or have long, dense coats that make applying topical treatments to the skin challenging. In such cases, oral treatment may be the only viable option.
Opting for an antifungal pill can be more beneficial for advanced yeast infection cases as it swiftly eliminates yeast. However, medications such as ketoconazole, fluconazole, itraconazole, and terbinafine have potential drawbacks, including stomach upset and the potential to impact the liver.
Regular blood work is recommended to monitor your pet’s health during oral treatment.
The itching that was causing distress to your dog should improve within a week of treatment. However, your veterinarian may prescribe anti-itch medication like Apoquel for faster relief. It is crucial to adhere to your vet’s treatment plan to prevent the recurrence of the infection.
Fungal infections, such as yeast infections, can be stubborn, and complete recovery may take several weeks or even months.
Please note that these remedies are not substitutes for professional veterinary care, and their effectiveness may vary:
Apple Cider Vinegar
Dilute raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with water and use it as a rinse or spray on the affected areas. Apple cider vinegar has antifungal properties that may help combat yeast overgrowth.
Apply organic, virgin coconut oil to the affected skin. Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which has natural antifungal properties that may help soothe the skin and also inhibit fungal growth.
Extract the gel from fresh aloe vera leaves and apply it to the affected areas. Aloe vera has natural healing properties and may help reduce inflammation and itching caused by fungal infections.
Prepare a herbal rinse by steeping herbs like calendula, chamomile, or rosemary in hot water. Allow the mixture to cool, strain it, and use it as a rinse on the affected areas. These herbs have potential antifungal and soothing properties.
Epsom Salt Soak
Dissolve Epsom salt in warm water and create a foot soak or a gentle bath for your dog. Soaking the affected paws or skin in Epsom salt solution may help relieve itching, reduce inflammation, and promote healing.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are common signs and visual characteristics associated with fungal infections on dog paws, including redness, inflammation, itching, scratching, peeling or cracking skin, discoloration, lesions, sores, and odor.
Here are factors that can contribute to the development of foot fungus on dogs’ paws:
Fungi thrive in warm and moist environments, making the paws an ideal breeding ground. Dogs that frequently walk on wet surfaces, such as grass or puddles, or those with excessive feet sweating, are more susceptible to fungal infections.
Weakened immune system
A weakened immune system can make dogs more vulnerable to fungal infections. Factors such as stress, underlying health conditions, malnutrition, or certain medications can compromise the immune system, increasing the risk of fungal overgrowth.
Dogs can pick up fungal spores from toxic environments, such as communal grooming areas, kennels, or public parks, where infected animals have been present. Fungal spores can survive in the environment for extended periods, waiting for a suitable host.
Poor hygiene and grooming practices
Insufficient grooming, inadequate paw care, and unsanitary conditions can develop fungal infections. Neglected paws with excessive dirt, debris, or long hair between the toes can create a favorable environment for fungal growth.
Trauma or skin damage
Skin damaged or compromised due to cuts, abrasions, or other injuries provides an entry point for fungi. These organisms can invade the skin and cause an infection.
Some dog breeds are more prone to developing fungal infections on their paws due to genetic factors. Breeds with excessive skin folds or those with dense hair growth between the toes may have an increased risk.
Certain types of foot fungus that affect dogs, such as dermatophytes, can be transmitted to humans. These fungi can cause a condition known as zoonotic dermatophytosis or “ringworm.”
Ringworm is a contagious fungal infection transmitted through direct contact with an infected animal, including dogs. It can also spread indirectly through contact with contaminated surfaces, such as bedding, grooming tools, or furniture.
The symptoms of ringworm in humans can vary but often include:
Circular, red, and itchy skin lesions.
Raised, scaly, or flaky patches on the skin.
Hair loss in the affected areas.
Itching and discomfort.
These steps can be supportive measures until you can get professional veterinary advice:
Clean the affected area: Gently wash your dog’s paws with a mild, pet-safe antiseptic or diluted povidone-iodine solution. Follow the instructions provided by your veterinarian or ask for their recommended cleaning solution. Pat the feet dry after cleaning.
Apply a topical antifungal ointment: If your veterinarian has already diagnosed a fungal infection, they may prescribe a topical antifungal ointment or cream. Follow their instructions regarding the frequency and method of application.
Monitor and manage paw hygiene: Keep your dog’s paws clean and dry. To minimize moisture and potential fungal growth, carefully trim the hair between the toes. Regularly check for foreign objects, thorns, or debris stuck in the paw pads.
Provide a clean and comfortable environment: Ensure your dog’s living area is clean and free from excessive moisture. Wash your dog’s bedding regularly, and consider using a washable or disposable foot mat or booties to protect their paws during outdoor activities.
Prevent licking and scratching: Use an Elizabethan collar or a soft protective paw bootie to prevent your dog from licking or scratching the affected paws. That will aid in healing and prevent further irritation.
Maintain a healthy diet and immune system: Provide your dog with a balanced and nutritious diet to support their overall health and immune system. Consult your veterinarian for appropriate dietary recommendations.
Here are some common visual characteristics associated with fungal infections in dogs:
Skin lesions: Fungal infections can cause circular or irregularly shaped lesions on the skin. These lesions may appear red or inflamed and have a raised or scaly border.
Hair loss: In areas affected by a fungal infection, you may notice patchy hair loss or thinning of the coat. The skin may appear bald or have broken hair.
Redness and inflammation: Infected areas often exhibit redness, swelling, and irritation. The skin may appear inflamed or have a rash-like appearance.
Itching and scratching: Fungal infections can cause intense itching in dogs. You may observe your dog scratching, licking, or chewing at the affected areas.
Crusts and scales: Sometimes, the skin may develop crusts or scales. These can range from small flakes to thick, adherent crusts.
Moisture and discharge: Fungal infections can increase water or discharge in the affected areas. That can manifest as dampness, oozing, or a greasy appearance.
Odor: Some fungal infections can produce a distinct odor. If you notice an unpleasant smell coming from your dog’s skin, it could indicate a fungal infection.
Conclusion for “How to Treat Dog Foot Fungus”
If you observe your dog scratching often, shaking its head, or persistently licking its paws, it may indicate a yeast infection causing discomfort. These infections are commonly associated with the overgrowth of the Malassezia yeast on the feet, ears, armpits, skin folds, and also the hind end of dogs.
Topical treatments such as shampoos and ointments can treat mild cases of dog foot fungus, while oral medication may be necessary for severe or widespread infections.
Additionally, practicing good hygiene, managing allergies, and addressing underlying health conditions can help prevent yeast infections.
If you find this guide, “How to Treat Dog Foot Fungus” helpful, check out:
- Do Labs Have Webbed Feet? (2023)
- Best Dog Shampoos for Yeast Infection (2023) – Top 6!
- Dog Nails Are Too Long – Surgery Options for Overgrown Nails (2023)
Learn more by watching “How To Recognize And Treat a Fungal Infection In Dogs (And What You Can Do To Help Your Dog Recover)” down below:
Garrett loves animals and is a huge advocate for all Doodle dog breeds. He owns his own Goldendoodle named Kona. In addition, he volunteers at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, where he fosters dogs and helps animals. Garrett enjoys writing about Doodles and believes that dogs can teach humans more about how to live than humans can teach a dog.
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