Does itching, scratching, and bald patches indicate a dog has a yeast infection and if so, what is the treatment?

Original Question: Hello. Our miniature Schnauzer has been having issues with her skin where she is constantly licking, scratching, has a bright red belly and bald patches. She constantly feels oily and has an odour. Our vet felt that it was a chicken allergy so we've removed chicken from her diet for a long time and it’s just gotten worse. Our groomer told us yesterday that our dog (Sadie) is covered in yeast. She recommended getting her on food without oats, rice, potatoes and anything that could really convert to a sugar as that feeds the fungus. She also recommending bathing her weekly in an 80/20 apple cider vinegar/water bath and use a pre and probiotic to help clear this up. My question is a) is this a yeast infection? b) do you have any food recommendation aside from raw (we have a toddler and not comfortable with the idea of raw meat) that would be ideal? I'm finding it a challenge looking for dog food that doesn't contain the ingredients to avoid and c) do you have any other recommendations? Thank you so much! - Angie

Does itching, scratching, and bald patches indicate a dog has a yeast infection and if so, what is the treatment? Mar 5, 2018

Hi Angie,

Thanks for submitting your question. Sorry to hear that you’re dealing with this but I think I can help.

The most important thing here is to stop guessing. We need to start determining what’s going on. The first thing I want you to do is visit your veterinarian and have a skin scraping performed. This is a quick and inexpensive test where they scrape the top layer of the affected skin and look at it under a microscope to determine whether yeast is present.  This way we do away with all the guesswork and it is needed before we enter any discussion about diet.

If yeast is present then you can start shampooing daily with an anti-fungal shampoo. Leave the shampoo on for 10 to 15 minutes before rinsing it off. You’ll have to do this for a number of weeks because yeast is very stubborn. If this doesn’t work, confirmed by a repeat skin scraping at the end of the treatment, then you can consider administering anti-fungal oral medication. This type of medication can be a bit hard on the liver so you’ll want to do some blood testing before starting and also during the treatment.

If the skin scraping also reveals bacteria, I would recommend that you use an antibiotic concurrently and the shampoo may help resolve this as well. If the bacteria are still present on a repeat skin scraping then I would recommend you perform a culture and sensitivity test on her skin sample. This is a test that will grow the bacteria that are present and tell you what type of antibiotic kills it. I’m seeing more and more cases of skin infections caused by resistant bacteria.

You’ll notice in my answer so far I have not mentioned diet at all. Stop thinking about diet at this point and get these tests done first. The diet only comes into play if we’re dealing with allergies. You cannot be certain about allergies in anyway at this point until the infections are identified and eliminated. Therefore, I recommend everyone stop guessing, perform the test, confirm the diagnosis, and implement the correct course of treatment otherwise this problem will persist.

If after the infections are resolved, and you are still seeing some redness, inflammation and itchiness, that is when I would consider allergies. I recommend that you look at our resources about allergies – I encourage you to take a look at a video that we have, entitled ‘What You should Know About Over-the-Counter Antihistamine Use in Dogs & Cats’, and an article ‘Dealing With Your Pet’s Allergies’,  they both discuss the topic in depth from diagnosis to treatment.

I hope this helps. Good luck.

Dr. Clayton Greenway

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