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Understanding Systemic Yeast Problems

If you are reading this article it is probably because you are at the "end of your rope" with your pet’s skin and/or ear problems. Far too often when dogs are diagnosed with allergies, they are in fact really suffering from a systemic yeast infection, be it on the surface of the skin or the whole system. If this is the case, antibiotics and steroids will not clear up the source of the problem. They only address secondary bacterial infections and provide temporary relief from itching.

Yeast problems can be caused by different yeast organisms. One is Malassezia pachydermatitis, which is a common yeast organism found on normal and abnormal canine skin and ears. Other yeast problems involve Candida Albicans, which can be systemic and the root cause of the problem. Yeast found in the body changes to its fungal form and starts to overgrow in the gut, causing toxins to leak into the body and causing a breakdown in the body's defenses (immune system). The result is that we start to see a reaction (such as a skin, coat, ear or bladder infection) and the reaction is in the whole body's system (systemic). If you understand that the skin is the biggest filter organ in the body, you can understand that this is where the junk and toxins in the body end up, causing the issues you see in your pet.

This is one of the biggest health problem facing pet owners today, as well as in humans, and the basis for many human diseases. I will tell you now, there is hope but it takes time, effort and patience on your part. So, take time to go through this information and share it with your veterinarian.

Understanding Yeast Overgrowth                                                      How Did This Happen?                                                                                                      

                                                                              Frayed pads                                                       Flakey skin                                                                                   Hair loss                                                                     Redish brown or gray skin discoloration usually in groin area
There are 3 types of yeast infection:

Superficial (most common) - characterized by inflammation of tissue linings, i.e. skin, GI tract, pharynx, upper and lower respiratory tract etc.;

Locally invasive - i.e. pneumonia, cystitis, esophagitis, the most common being ulcerations of the intestinal, respiratory or genitourinary tract;

Systemic - an invasive infection, characterized by lesions of the heart, kidneys, liver, spleen, lung, brain and other organs. digestive tract, it is one of those organisms, like bacteria and parasites, that need a host (your pet) in order to live.

When the body (pet or human) is given the best nutritional support with a good diet, the body can keep these "critters" at low levels and they do not interfere with daily life. But when the body is compromised and fungus/yeasts and other pathogenic bacteria (e.Coli etc) and parasites (giardia, coccidia, demodectic mange mites) not only flourish, the multiple with abandoned!

 Antibiotics Can Save a Life and Compromise Health Too.

The second issue we need to look at for yeast issues is the use of antibiotics- either "over use" of them, or using them without using a probiotic "back up" at the same time. Probiotics (beneficial yogurt like bacteria) keep the flora/fauna of the gut at good levels in the digestive track. When this flora/fauna is killed off due to antibiotics we must re-seed the gut with probiotics at the same time!!. If we don’t do this, guess what starts to grow out of control --- the yeast/fungus, which also lives in the gut and is just waiting for an opportunity to spread.

But Probiotics/Prebiotics, keep fungus/yeast at lower levels in the gut as long as it is supplied daily in your pet's diet and we can't fully depend on it on some dog foods. Once there is yeast overgrowth, probiotics alone will not push the levels back down. It requires supplements to alter the pH of the environment, kill off the yeast, remove the yeast die-off from the body, and probiotics to reseed the gut with beneficial microorganisms.

Other things compromise the system such as hormones (seasons), steroids, stress, vaccines, medicines, toxins, flea preparations, yard sprays, household cleaners, detergents, fabric softeners etc. but the two issues I have found the worst at causing yeast/fungus overgrowth are

1). DIET - poor quality ingredients and lacking in nutrients and variety or nutrients that are not bioavailable to the body. Corn glueten in dog foods hinder recovery or cause yeast over growth. Feeding table scrapes that contain processed food such as sandwich meat , hot dogs,  processed cheese, anything made of flour. Read treat labels!

2). OVER USE OF ANTIBIOTICS with no probiotic back up given at the same time to re-seed the gut with beneficial flora.

                                                   How Did I Miss This?.....A Slow Process

Generally this deterioration of the intestinal environment that causes yeast over growth,does not happen over night, it is slow and gradual process, just like the reversing of this problem. It starts with something called Leaky Gut Syndrome.

Leaky Gut Syndrome is caused by the Candida (yeast)changing into its fungal form, growing roots (rhizoid's) into one’s intestines, and penetrating the intestinal lining. This causes the microscopic tears, which allow undigested proteins to pass into the blood, causing joint problems, autoimmune reactions.

Here is a typical scenario……let’s say your dog is 3 years old and been fed a grocery store level food like purinia or old roy. It was on antibiotics a couple times for an infection. He has been healthy up until now, but one day you notice he is shaking his head, scratching his ear or perhaps chewing at his feet -- only once in a while. Then a few days later it seems to be with more frequency. Soon the dog chews it’s coat, it’s skin is raw or itches himself more often than normal, and it is obvious there is a skin infection. There starts to be patches of baldness and black spots particularly on the underbelly and legs of the body (yeast die-off residue) remember that skin is the biggest filter organ on the body. In extreme cases the dogs can start to have seizures, constant issues with reoccurring urinary tract infections, lethargy, skin welts and baldness etc.

So off we go to the vet….and what do we get?....we get an antibiotic ointment for the ears, antibiotic for the coat to make sure there is no secondary infection, and a shot of steroids to temporarily stop itching and a suggestion that "this is a food allergy" let's switch to Hills or Purina prescription diet.

The dog improves for a few days, thanks to the steroids and the antibiotic starts to clear up the itching secondary staph infection, then all of a sudden days later the dog is in full blown chewing, itching, red feet and ears and absolute misery. Back to the vet for a second or third or fourth round of the same thing and more steroids. Now it becomes a vicious circle - over and over again, back to the vet, so the vet suggests we do "allergy testing". The dog must be allergic to something perhaps it is in the diet.

And as always, when the body is in a "heightened state" of response, the least little thing can set it off and it seems come up on an allergy test as some kind of reaction from belly button lint to lima beans, from wheat to Kleenex, from fleecy toys to popcorn. You name it your dog "seems" to be allergic to it! I have seen it all on these tests. The owners return home baffled (we never eat lima beans?) and confused and a whopper of a bill and one "big-arse bag" of that expensive prescription dog food that your dog REFUSES to eat. By the time you are done with all this, you could have bought a time-share in Cabo and Prada shoes! The fact is these allergie tests have so many false positives that they are a huge money maker for the vets and really tell you nothing about the dogs situation. Remember real allergies are about immune problems...boost the immune function, change diets and we have success.

After hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars invested in tests and vet visit- the results tell you the dog is allergic to everything --things you didn't even know the dog came in contact with in your home!! (doesn't that "Australian Grass" only grows in Australia?).

Well, that is usually when people start doing a search on the internet and find my website. I am usually the "lady of last resort". Now, I am NOT a veterinarian, but I have owned a lot of dogs in 36 years, and there is a reason I am familiar with this scenario.. I have been there and done that before! I love a good challange so I decided to get to the bottom of this problem 20 years ago and that brings us to today and the information in this article.

It is my opinion the majority of systemic yeast overgrowth problems in dogs, get mistakenly diagnosed as a food allergy. Another misdiagnosis is as hot spots which is a skin infection from fleas. Dog that tend to have yeast over growth seem to have flea infestation more commonly due to their lower immune system and raw skin.

First dogs may just scratch, then you may notice dry or flaky skin, then they lick their front paws a lot. Grey or  black appears on groin. Redish stains on fur appear on feet, groin, around mouth and eyes. Breath may smell bad. Paws may fray or have yellowish tone to them. After bathing a few days later they seem to feel gummy. Flea stripe on back doesn't seem to work. Eventually fur will fall out or thin as more scratching is going on. Sometimes skin will thicken and feel rough or turn black on back. These are all symptoms of yeast infection. Not all dogs will have same combination of symptoms depending on breed and type of fur. Dogs mental state are effected especially if high strung or having anxiety or nervous problems.  

                                     A Quick Look At Potential Contact Allergies

There are contact allergies you need to consider before you go to all this expense of allergy testing, provided you go that route. Take a careful assessment of any changes in cleaning supplies, detergents, aerosol sprays and carpet sprinkle products. You may just have a"Taa-Da" moment and save youself some major $ in testing.

I know of a breeder who spent thousands of dollars trying to figure out what was wrong with their show dog. They had this dog back and forth to Purdue with no results. Then one day the owner called and said how his show career was over because of his skin problem and he was the #3 dog in his breed. I knew he was on a very good diet- something else was going on so I flipped through mymental rolodex..... I asked the owner "by the way, do you use Carpet Fresh?He responded, "Oh yes, 2 -3 times a week, we have two males in the house, you know, I have to!". I said, "Well, more than likely that is your problem, you will need to have your carpets professionally cleaned to have the stuff removed, and bathe the dog with a shampoo from the vet. Rinse in a baking soda rinse and I just bet the dog will be fine. I ran into the owner 6 weeks later at a dog show, with his dog. He was glad to report once they cleaned the carpets and bathed the dog, the skin the problem went away.

Another breeder had changed diets 4 times and after talking it through we figured out the leather cleaner they used on the couch was problematic for their Dobe. If you think you have to use something on your carpet just use baking soda. Tide detergent, as well as other detergents can be a very problematic if used on dog bedding. Just wash bedding in bleach, no soap and NO softeners, which can trigger respiratory reactions in young animals and children. Particularity any aerosol sprays, like air freshener and especially Lysol and other kinds of disinfectants. Do not use them. Yard, flower, bug sprays and sprayed fields in agricultural areas…all of these things can cause serious contact allergy reactions. And lastly, swimming pools with chemicals/chlorine can also be a serious problem for skin and coats. Shaklee has a great line of Green Products for cleaning and they are safe for kids and pets.

              Systemic Yeast Issues: How the Parts Relate To The Whole.

Many contemporary veterinarians, like physicians are not trained in holistic approaches, they are trained in the allopathic method which means to look at the "parts" that are wrong and fix them with drugs and surgery. To understand and diagnose Systemic Yeast Overgrowth your veterinarian must understand that the visible symptoms you see on the outside of the dog; chewing, itching, chewing and licking of feet, ear infections, shedding, sores etc is only the"tip of the iceberg". You must look deeper at the core or origin of the problem and not simply treat the symptoms on a surface level. In other words..look at the whole animal, inside out and see how all the parts relate to this whole animal.

Beneath the Surface

To understand systemic yeast flare-up you need to know the mechanics. In a nutshell…. When the yeast/fungus starts to over grow in the gut, it destroys the mucus lining of the intestinal wall, which is a protective lining. The digestive tract is a "closed system" much like a real septic system, and it is designed to keep the waste toxins from leaking through the walls of the digestive system and into the blood stream.

When this mucus lining is broken down due to fungus growing out of control and fungus die-off, it allows body toxins and waste to leak through the walls of the digestive tract and into the bloodstream, in short it is like the body is becoming septic. What makes this problem worse is, as the fungus dies off and decays, the waste from the fungus/yeast alone can make you "sicker than a dog".

When the toxins leak into the body a whole cascade of events starts to take place, one of which is the alteration of the pH of the gut, bladder and reproduction organs. These changes in the body are the "symptoms" you recognize when you have yeast overgrowth. It is referred to as 4 stages of severity of overgrowth depending on these symptoms. The list is far to many to list here, so I will name a few that seem to be the worst in animals:

Rashes - Itching -Body Odor - Smelly Ears - Reoccurring Ear & Bladder infections -Red Skin - Sores - Scabs - Shedding - Arthritis - Genital Discharge - Hotspots - Blackened skin, swollen feet, yellow pads on feet, frayed pads, fur has reddish stains around eyes or feet or spots where chewed, waxy bumps on skin.

Keep in mind the biggest filter organ in the body is the skin so when these toxins leak out of the contained system and into the bloodstream, they eventually make their way to the outer layer, the skin, and deposit the toxins on the surface of the skin causing itching, irritation, odor and then a secondary bacterial infections become a problem as well. Reoccurring ear infections are often treated with antibiotic, which don't even touch yeast infections of the ears, and in fact make it worse as it destroys the beneficial bacteria of the ear canal, altering the pH of the ear and making it comfy for yeast to want to grow there.

                                  Can We Fix This Mess?

The answer is YES - we can fix or reverse this mess, it takes time, patience and you changing some of the feeding protocol with your pet, but YES we can do it. Here goes:

Basic dog food:  brown rice, chic peas, potatoes

Meat:  duck,  rabbit, bison, lamb, fish, veal

Vegetable: cooked Garlic, parsley, green beans, cucumbers, watercress, alfalfa sprouts, zucchini, artichoke, celery - they are great toxin relievers for the body. For better digestion mix the raw vegetable in a blender , and add it to the dogs food.

Fruits: Chopped coconut, apple, banana

Dairy: Plain yogurt or cottage cheese to re-colonize the intestinal flora

Herbs: basil, oregano, tummeric, flaxseed
Tractor Supply sells many dog foods that are healthy. READ LABELS!!!! 4 Health White Fish and Potatoe is a really good one. Any grain free food.


Commercial dog foods and treats which contain the following ingredients:
Meat-by-products, poultry-by-products, meat meal, wheat flour, wheat gluten oat meal, corn meal, corn gluten, brewers rice, BHA, BHT, Ethoxyquin,soy

- MSG, chicken, pasta, milk (because it contains lactose), bread, cookies, crackers, soy products
- Peanuts, peanut butter, yams, sausage, bacon, corned beef, smoked meat and sausages.
- Onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, salt, ketchup, grapes, raisins.
- Sugars, sucrose, fructose, corn syrup, fruit juices, honey, chocolate, or maple syrup


Pro-biotics are good!

Probiotics (beneficial yogurt like bacteria) keep the flora/fauna of the gut at good levels in the digestive track. When this flora/fauna is killed off due to antibiotics we must re-seed the gut with probiotics at the same time!! .

But Probiotics/Prebiotics, keep fungus/yeast at lower levels in the gut as long as it is supplied daily in your pet's diet and we can't fully depend on it on some dog foods. Once there is yeast overgrowth, probiotics alone will not push the levels back down. It requires supplements to alter the pH of the environment, kill off the yeast, remove the yeast die-off from the body, and probiotics to reseed the gut with beneficial microorganisms.

Natural Treatment Ideas

Change dog food, Tractor Supply 4 Health White Fish & Potatoe (which is made by Diamond and Call of the Wild). Remember change food slowly ad little bit each day. It's like going from cake to rice cake! So don't cold turkey the old food. No treats! except ones you make or green beans,fresh or frozen are best. Take tub of plain yogurt (not fruit or vanilla) put a little bit in ice cube tray and open pill capsule of acidophilus one per ice cube square. Freeze give 3 treats per day for at least 2 months then when all symptoms go away slowly reduce a treat a day. Once dog has yeast infection it can return so keep giving yogurt occasionally. Be patient it can take several months for systoms to go away. Don't give up. If you do yeast will come back twice as strong. Yeast is a fungus. It's very hard to get rid of. 

Use probiotics/digestive and dietary enzymes to keep the pH balance of the stomach in proper balance. This in turn helps prevent yeast overgrowth.

Apple cider vinegar unpasteurised (raw)- 2 table spoons per gallon in water, to help keep the pH balance where it should be in the gut and make an environment, which is not conducive to yeast proliferation.


Use pro-biotic pills dailey, such as acidophilus, 3 times a day. They are inexpensive usually $4 or so for 100 pills. They are ready available at The Medicine Shoppe, walmart, walgreens or any health food store.


2)We MUST have your pet's thyroid checked if above food changes do not work- A yeast removal will not work without if there is a thyroid issue with your dog- this is critical in getting systemic yeast cleared up. 


                      You Have Homework

Cleansing of yeasty areas on body must be cleansed daily such as feet, arm pits groin if areas are affected.

Cleanse ears with witch hazel and cotton balls daily. 

Feet soak daily in: gallon water plus one cup hydrogen peroxide, one cup white vinegar. soak feet in in bowl or tub and don't rinse off pat dry. Don't spray on they need to be soaked.

OK - this is a lot of information in a short time, but I know as you read this info, light bulbs went off and there is light at the end of the tunnel. (We will deal with your anger about how long this has gone on, and the money you have spent, at a later date). Be patient this problem didn't happen over night and it won't clear up over night. On an average 3- months is the norm, depending on the severity of the situation, some are sooner.

Question: Do I have to keep my pet on the Yeast free Diet for the rest of their life?

Answer: Yes - it is life long program including approved foods and treats . But, once you get the yeast in control with the correct diet and the supplements . We never get rid of yeast, parasites or pathogens, it's always about having more good microorganisms than bad microorganisms in the gut and keeping things in check and in balance.

Now it is very important that you find a good veterinarian and discuss this approach and to make sure there are not other health issues at the core of your pet's problem. I am not a vet, so to seek the advice of a veterinarian. This info is not to be used in lieu of veterinarian advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Brewster only had problems with his paws. He chewed on them all the time, and his eyes were badly teared stained. Bentley of course you can see they picture of his eyes and face...He was starting to go bald on the top of his nose and his eyelids were VERY swollen and runny. But, NOT ANYMORE! Thanks so much again! Saved me a ton in vet bills and such relief to know they aren't suffering anymore.... Typical of yeast infection.

    Canine Research in Yeast - Malassezia

    The American Kennel Club has sponsored research grants for disease. Here is one that is relates to this topic.
    Completed Grant No. 1840: Studies of the Host (Canine) Immune Response to the Opportunistic Pathogen Malassezia pachydermatis - Daniel O. Morris, DVM, DACVD; University of Pennsylvania.
    Sponsors: American Spaniel Club, Basset Hound Club of America, Dalmatian Club of America Foundation, English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association Foundation, Westie Foundation of America
    Abstract: This study confirmed that the immune system of allergic dogs recognizes a specific yeast as a contributor to allergies—that the dog’s body is mounting an allergic response to the yeast, not just reacting to a yeast infection. The yeast, Malassezia pachydermatis, is present in many dogs with skin allergies, causing itching, infection and sometimes licking to the point of self-mutilation. The most common symptoms of the yeast are ear canal infections and paw licking. Dogs with the yeast allergy can react to a quantity of yeast that would be considered within normal limits for healthy dogs. This discovery provides evidence and hope that it might be possible to manage that allergic reaction through the development of yeast-specific allergy shots, rather than relying on anti-fungal medications, which carry a possibility of side effects and don’t stop the allergic reaction from recurring.

How Systemic Yeast Infections Affects Humans

    Systemic yeast infections (fungus) are extremely difficult to detect and kill. Stanford University studies report a 497% increase in systemic infections in humans in the past 10 years due to overuse of antibiotics, diet and stress.
    When pH balance of the gut is out of balance, an environment is ripe for pathogenic bacteria and fungus to multiply at an alarming rate. The byproducts of bacteria and fungus produce "toxins." These can result in systemic disease, as well as bloat, stomach gas and foam. Many diseases are often misdiagnosed in humans when the actual underlying cause is Candida Albicans (a systemic yeast infection).
    Examples of systemic yeast overgrowth in humans which are often diagnosed as the following diseases:
    Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
    Lupus (very severe infection)
    Some forms of Schizophrenia (Huxley Foundation Research)
    Arthritis or joint pain
    Mood Swings
    Carbohydrate / Sugar cravings
    Chronic bloating
    Inflammatory Bowel Disease
    Chronic Rashes

    and a host of other diagnosed ailments are all linked to a systemic (in the blood stream) Fungal - Mycoplasm Infection. Once this infection is in the blood stream, it can affect any organ giving people many different types of symptoms. When fungus overgrowth flourishes in the gut, the toxins from the yeast keep the pH unbalanced, causing a vicious cycle. Unbalanced pH balance in the gut alters the body's chemistry and unbalances the metabolic/hormonal chemistry. Many homeopathic physicians and veterinarians feel as though a systemic yeast infection is one of the most overlooked and misdiagnosed diseases in medicine.