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Yeast Infections In Dogs And Cats

Vet Talks 3 min read
white fluffy dog laying on back while a veterinarian assesses the dog's red chest and belly

Yeast infections are a common fungal infection in dogs and cats caused by Malassezia, although other types of fungi can be the cause, but less frequently. These organisms are a normal part of the fungal flora on the skin, ears, oral cavity, and body orifices. Under healthy circumstances, this fungi organism is balanced and does not pose a risk, since it is kept under control by the immune system. However, if there is an imbalance and the immune system cannot fight it, the fungi will proliferate causing an overgrowth of yeast, and result in yeast infections in dogs and cats.

The most common clinical signs of this dermatitis in dogs and cats are:

  • General itching
  • Greasy skin
  • Redness of the skin
  • Musty odor and smelly discharge from the skin
  • Scaly, crusty, or flaky skin
  • Thickened skin (‘elephant skin’)
  • Hyperpigmentation (darkly pigmented skin)
  • Chronic or recurrent otitis externa or ear infections
  • Can be associated with intestinal, respiratory, and eye issues in more severe cases
Cat with raw bald spots from a yeast infection.

Causes of Yeast Infections In Dogs And Cats

Yeast dermatitis is not contagious.

Yeast dermatitis is not contagious. If you have more than one pet in your home, the infection will not pass from one pet to the other or to you. Yeast infections are usually caused by an imbalance in the skin when the immune system cannot fight it (causing a chronic skin infection).

The causes of yeast infections are related to absorption, inhalation, and ingestion of spores. Yeast infections can also be caused by flea infestations, skin allergies, cancer, immune deficiency, among others.

Diagnosing A Yeast Infection

The best thing to do when your furbaby has a skin problem is to take them to the veterinarian. Your trusted veterinarian is the best person to assess your pet’s condition and perform exams to diagnose the source of the problem and provide the correct treatment. Exams might include one or several of these:

  • Blood analysis
  • Skin scraping
  • Impression smear
  • Cotton swab and culture
  • Skin biopsy

Treating A Yeast Infection In Dogs And Cats

The treatment often includes oral and topical antifungal and it can be a very long treatment, depending on the severity of the infection and how much it has spread.

For oral treatment, it can include medicated shampoos, ointments, and medicated wipes. Oral treatments can also include antifungals in a liquid or pill form. In some situations, the veterinarian may also prescribe antibiotics associated with the fungal treatment, to avoid secondary infections or treat it if it is already happening.

Since these treatments can often go on for months, it is really important to take a close look at organ function while on these medications. Recurrent blood exams can assess general health, liver, and kidney function.

The prognosis will always depend on the severity of the condition and how well your furbaby can respond to the treatment. Simpler infections, involving only the skin, may have a better prognosis than the ones that affect the respiratory system or are associated with cancer, for example. And in cases where the underlying causes are allergies or immunodeficiency, the prognosis will depend on how well the symptoms and progression can be controlled.

Natural Support For Yeast Infections

At NHV we have some natural supplements that might benefit your furbaby in fighting and controlling the symptoms of skin infections.

Ouch-Away Spray— topical aid to soothe the itchiness caused by yeast infection.

Felimm— helps to fight against viral and bacterial infection and supports the immune system.

Stimmune— helps strengthen the immune system and soothes the symptoms associated with yeast infections, like itchiness and redness of the skin. Also aids in controlling food allergies that can cause yeast infections.

Milk Thistle— helps to support the liver during prolonged treatments with antifungal and antibacterial treatments.

Natures Immuno— promotes a healthy immune system and has powerful antifungal properties. May be beneficial especially in cases where the immune system is compromised.

Petomega 3— promotes the health of skin and coat with its powerful fatty acids.


If your furkiddo is struggling with a yeast infection, we are here to help. Click the button below to start chatting with our pet experts who can suggest supplements and tips specific to your pet’s needs.

Dr. Amanda Nascimento DVM, MVSc, PhD

Dr. Amanda Nascimento DVM, MVSc, PhD

Dr. Amanda completed her undergraduate degree in veterinary medicine in 2010 and graduate studies in veterinary pathology (MVSc. 2012 and PhD 2016) at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of São Paulo. She completed her post-doctoral training at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine – University of Saskatchewan in 2018. Dr. Nascimento will be hosting her own blog series and sharing her knowledge with our extended NHV family.

Published: May 14, 2021

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