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What Causes A Yeast Infection in Your Dog's Ear?

By Jacqueline Harris

All dogs and humans have a complex natural balance of yeast and bacteria in and on their bodies. When things are going well, "good" bacteria in your dog's system keep the yeast controlled, and the dog is healthy and well. However, any of a number of circumstances can throw the balance out of whack. When that happens, yeast may have a chance to proliferate. An overgrowth of yeast will cause symptoms that are uncomfortable for your dog, and unpleasant for you to be around. Look for symptoms including low energy, whining, rubbing or scratching the ear, and shaking the head. When you examine the ear itself, you might find it to be red and swollen, with crusty patches of skin and discharge or ooze. The most noticeable symptom may be an incredibly foul odor emanating from the ear. While this list of symptoms could have other causes, like ear mites or bacteria, yeast is certainly a possibility. You and your dog should immediately take a trip to the vet for diagnosis and treatment.

Once the acute dog ear yeast infection is under control, it helps to know what caused the dog to get this infection in the first place. As mentioned above, an imbalance in bacteria can allow yeast to flourish. If your dog is prescribed antibiotics for a bacterial infection, a dog ear yeast infection is a likely side effect. Antibiotics are powerful medicine, and their use is implicated in several undesirable side effects, one of which is yeast infection. For this reason, antibiotics should not be over-prescribed.

Yeast thrives in moist, dark environments. Your doggie's ear is the perfect breeding ground, especially if it's a floppy ear like a beagle's or spaniel's ear. Dogs with ears that stick up, like German Shepherds, have less trouble with ear yeast infections, because oxygen and sunlight are yeast's natural enemies. It helps to wipe the inside of a floppy ear with a vinegar and water solution. Vinegar is a mild desiccant and a deodorizer. 

Yeast also takes advantage of your dog when his immune system is compromised due to illness or poor lifestyle habits. You will want your dog to be as healthy as possible so he can fight off dog yeast infections. To that end, you should be sure your dog gets top-quality dog food, constant access to clean water, lots of exercise, and has a clean bed. A healthy, clean environment goes a long way toward protecting your dog from all types of dog infections, yeast included. A fit, lean dog can fight off physical problems better than an overweight, depressed dog.

An ear that has been scratched or wounded in some way is also more susceptible to dog yeast problems. When the intact skin, which is Mother Nature's first line of defense against all types of intruders, has been compromised, yeast can easily find that moist, dark environment where it craves to flourish. Check your dog's ears frequently, and if you notice scratches or lesions, clean them and tend to them often until they heal to discourage yeast from growing there.

When you know how yeast breeds you can take steps to keep your dog healthy and infection free.