Yeast Infection in Dogs can cause them to be very uncomfortable indeed.  It can strike in various places including within the ear itself or anywhere on the skin of the dog.  Wherever it appears, it will make your dog miserable.  Very often, the main culprit for such a problem is food allergies and the main triggers are usually Chicken, followed by Beef and Grain.  Obviously, anything that doesn’t suit your dog will be his own personal trigger but, for the main, simply cutting out these elements of your dog’s diet can make a whole world of difference and often fix the problem on the spot – remember, if your dog is allergic to beef, that means tripe from a cow is also off the menu … it’s from the same protein source.  Watch out for the ingredients in any treats  you feed too because often chicken is snuck in there as a cheap protein source.  Before going down the expensive and financially exhausting route of allergy testing, try moving over to a diet that doesn’t contain these ingredients and source yourself a good quality raw food so you know exactly what you are feeding or, if you prefer to feed a kibble diet, then a brand that provides grain-free food specific for sensitive pets is the way forward, obviously avoiding the Chicken and Beef flavours to begin with (speaking as somebody who has been there and got a very well worn t-shirt!)


If the infection is affecting the skin, it may appear reddened or have areas where the skin itself seems thickened or have scabby or balding areas.  These infections are usually very itchy for your dog and if the dog scratches a lot to try to relieve himself, it may well bleed too.


So, what kind of things can cause an ear infection – is it always down to yeast?  Well, in a word no.  Although yeast infections are often brought about by allergies to food, feathers, cleaning products, medication or intolerances of things like cereal etc, there are lots of triggers that can be responsible for ear problems with your dog, not just overproduction of yeast.  These include such causes as bacteria, something lodged within the ear canal such as debris, water or a grass seed for instance.  It could even be caused by a ruptured eardrum.

The ear is split into two parts; the inner ear is, as you would expect, within the head of the dog and comprises of the tube that runs all the way down (the Eustachian tube) and the eardrum itself.  The outer ear is the part you can see inside the flap of the ear.  If the infection has taken hold in the outer ear you will usually be able to see a black, tarry, wax-type substance forming and gunking up within all the little folds of the outer ear.  Often you will be able to smell a strong “sour” smell from the ear itself, which is a sure sign.  An inner ear infection is by far the most dangerous as this can, in extreme cases, lead to deafness in your dog.  Because it is usual for an inner ear infection to occur and be triggered when there is an outer ear problem too, it is important to treat any outer ear problems as soon as possible to prevent them escalating into the inner ear too.

If your dog has an overgrowth in the amount of yeast in his ear, there are several tell-tale signs you can look out for:-

* Shaking his head
* Flapping his ears
* Rubbing his head on the carpet or furniture
* Scratching his ears with his paws
* Tilting his head
* Sour smell from the ear


Because yeast thrives in warm, damp or moist environments, dogs with long, floppy ears often suffer the most with this problem.  Breeds like the Basset Hound, Beagle or Ridgeback for example have the perfect ear to create yeast-heaven.  Some breeds for instance the Schnauzer, grow hair inside their ears and this can become matted and also act as a good breeding ground for yeast and bacteria.  (If you have a breed who grows hair in his ears, then remember to have your groomer pluck this regularly for him).  Add in to the mix a dog who likes to go into the water such as a Cocker or Springer Spaniel, and its not surprising that these breeds need constant vigilance to prevent a yeast infection taking hold.

Often you may notice your dog nibbling or constantly licking his paws.  It is incredibly common for this kind of behaviour to go hand in hand with poorly ears, ear flapping, black wax or sour smelling ears.  Why? Well, if the ears are itchy, the dog will use his paws to scratch his ears, placing his feet in the environment which is troubled by the yeast and bacteria and thus transferring it on to his paws.  This infection will then take hold there too, become itchy and uncomfortable and result in sore, red pads particularly between the toes and more often than not, constant nibbling and scratching.


Your vet will need to examine the ear of your dog to determine if there is anything in there that shouldn’t be such as a foreign body, mites, water or some other irregular finding.  He will also be checking to see that the eardrum is neither perforated or inflamed.  He will take a sample from the ear and likely both look under the microscope and send the swab away for culture to see what grows from it.  Taking a swab is very important because if it is decided that antibiotics are required, it will be essential to give the right antibiotic to deal with the infection – not all antibiotics are suitable for every different strain of ‘nasty’.  😉

Once the vet has determined which part of the ear is infected, he will usually prescribe a course of antifungal cream to rub on the skin of the ear.  If the infection is within the ear itself, then it is more likely to require a course of antibiotic tablets to treat it.  Please be sure to take the medication exactly as prescribed by your vet.  Failure to complete the course of medication may result in the infection coming back.

Zymox Blue is a really good product for yeast of the ears and one which I personally wouldn’t be without.  As with many well informed Ridgeback owners, I always have a bottle in the first aid cupboard, just in case, so I can dive in and nip any problem in the bud.  After suffering for 18 months on and off and spending £££ on vets and tests and swabs and antibiotic drops, this stuff cleared up the problem within a week.  As soon as I notice any kind of smell, I pop the drops in a couple of days on the trot and everything disappears before it gets chance to take hold.  For an established infection, this product is applied daily for a week (or two at most) WITHOUT cleaning the ears.  It works through the action of antifungal enzymes that literally break up wax and discharge.  This remedy is more difficult to come by in the UK (more readily available in the US) but you can obtain it through a Facebook Group called Best Pet Ear and Skin Solutions who can give you all the information you need about this particular product link to Best Pet Ear & Skin Solutions – FB

Zymox Otic Enzymatic Solution with Hydrocortisone

For dogs with skin yeast infections you can try products such as topical sprays that go directly on the skin itself or a shampoo that uses antifungal medication in their approach.  In severe cases however, oral medication such as Ketaconazole or Fluconazole is recommended to help alleviate the infection.

To instantly soothe the itchy feeling and dryness, a good product to try is Aveeno – either as a colloidal oatmeal shampoo, or a moisturizing cream, this range of products is kind and gentle to the skin but still with the soothing relief you would hope for.  Great for both yourself or your dog

Aveeno Active Naturals Daily Moisturizing Lotion, 18 Ounce

Prevention is usually better than the cure and there are many specifically designed cleaning products on the market for your dog.  Some are to be used just when you see any residue appearing while others are to be used as part of your regular hygiene routine.  You may prefer to go down the more natural route and seek out remedies such as those that use Apple Cider Vinegar in their make up. 
Check out our blog on ear cleaning for further information:

If you do favour the chemical-free ways of treating your dog, check out this more natural approach to helping with the discomfort 😉