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A fungal infection can cause your dog to become itchy, crusty and smelly. You might notice a rash on your pooch that he will begin to scratch, and his skin may thicken to an “elephant” appearance.
According to PetMD.com, “Malassezia pachydermatis is a yeast found on the skin and ears of dogs. Though a normal inhabitant of these regions, an abnormal overgrowth of the yeast can cause dermatitis, or inflammation of the skin.”
PetMD.com states, “Malassezia dermatitis can affect any breed of dog, but the following breeds are predisposed to this disease: Poodles, Basset Hounds, West Highland White Terriers, Cocker Spaniels, and Dachshunds.”
What Causes a Fungal Infection?
PetMD.com says, “The exact reasons behind this disease are not yet known, but it has been linked to allergy, seborrhea, and possibly congenital (born with) and hormonal factors.”
Keep in mind that if conditions are ideal, Malassezia will take any opportunity to grow, which is bad news for your pooch.
“Malassezia infections often appear during the high-humidity months of summer and they may persist into the fall. Any hereditary or infectious disease that weakens the skin’s immune system can allow a Malassezia infection to begin,” according to peteducation.com.
According to marvistavet.com, “Yeast infections are especially itchy, crusty and smelly. Often a dog starts with a rash or with simple itching but the skin thickens to an ‘elephant’ skin appearance. The itch is extreme and the odor can be especially troublesome. Parts of the body or the entire body can be affected.”
PetMD.com recommends that you take your pooch to the vet immediately if you start to notice these symptoms:
Loss of hair (alopecia)
Redness of affected areas
Malodorous discharge from lesions
Patches of skin becoming darker (hyperpigmentation) and epidermal thickening (seen in chronic cases)
Marvistavet.com also mentions, “Some animals are actually allergic to the yeasts themselves. The most important thing to realize is that while a yeast infection is not contagious, it tends to recur unless the underlying allergy, seborrhea or other problem is controlled.”
How are Fungal Infections Diagnosed?
According to PetMD.com, “You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health, including the onset and nature of the symptoms, to your veterinarian.”
Marvista.com lists the following ways that yeast organisms make be collected to determine if your dog has an overgrowth of the fungus:
Impression smear: A microscope slide is pressed on his skin.
Scotch-tape sampling: A piece of clear tape is pressed to his skin.
Skin scraping with a blade.
Rubbing the skin with a moistened cotton swab.
Biopsy: After applying a local anesthetic, a small plug of skin is removed with a biopsy punch. This is the most invasive choice, but it provides substantially more diagnostic information to determine the underlying cause.
How are Fungal Infections Treated?
Marvistavet.com states, “Treatment can be topical, oral or both. Topical treatment is best used for localized spots of infection while oral medication would be better applied to larger infected areas. If the yeast infection is recurrent or if one wishes to supplement oral medication, topical and oral treatment can be combined.”
You should bathe your dog using a shampoo that contains 4-percent chlorhexidine, which works by stripping skin oil and killing yeast. Medicated shampoos can also be used to help remove scales and foul odors from your pooch.
According to peteducation.com, “For localized treatment of very small areas, miconazole cream can be applied to the infected area twice daily for several weeks. Ear infections with Malassezia are treated by cleaning the ears one to two times daily. Ear cleaners containing acids such as acetic or boric acid help to maintain a pH that inhibits the growth of yeast.”
Petplace.com warns, “As recurrence is common, watch your dog for any untoward symptoms and call your veterinarian if you suspect a recurrence.”
Because Malassezia pachydermatis is found naturally on your dog, there is not much that you can do to prevent a fungal infection. Be sure to be aware of the symptoms and check for the telltale “elephant skin.”
Find A Vet HOW TO articles are intended for informational purposes only. You should always consult with your veterinarian about any health issues affecting your dog.