Dec 232008

A Systemic Yeast Infection is a condition that occurs when yeast builds up in a dog’s body. This condition starts in the digestive system and is caused by a pH imbalance. During this imbalance harmful yeast that is normally present multiplies rapidly and systemically invades the body. During periods of pH imbalance and yeast invasion, more toxins are excreted from a dog’s lymph nodes causing excessive itchiness. The dogs will then lick or itch these “hot spots”. Although some dogs with systemic yeast infections may not exhibit any outward signs at all, most dogs will exhibit one or more of these symptoms:

• Yeasty ears (redness and/or dark gunk)
• Abnormal body odor
• Licking or chewing of feet, legs, groin, tail-head
• Excessive Itchiness
• Pustules on the body (hives/pimples)
• Redness, staining between toes
• Oily yet flaky skin

The Yeast genus has over 1500 species and new strains are discovered every day. Some of these species are beneficial and some are detrimental to Canines. Unfortunately, when testing for a yeast infection, those with limited microbiological backgrounds quickly assume these infections are all caused by the Candida albicans species of yeast. When Candida albicans is not found, they disregard Yeast Invasion as a cause for the symptoms and blame these symptoms on non-existent allergies or fleas. In most cases they simply use antibiotics. Antibiotics will kill all beneficial bacteria in the gut prolonging the pH imbalance and the yeast infection.

At Nature’s Farmacy we have been assisting breeders and owners with animals suffering from systemic yeast infections for over 25 years. Our approach is simple: Start at the source and work from the inside out. Most systemic yeast infections start from feeding grain based dog foods. Grain ferments in a dog’s stomach causing pH levels to change and create an environment that is more hospitable to negative yeast and bacteria than beneficial yeast and bacteria. Aside from the pH level, a healthy Canine digestive system is a perfect environment for negative yeast. Once the fermentation process causes pH imbalance, negative yeast will quickly begin to thrive and cause a rapid, systemic yeast infection. Simple diet changes, such as switching to a raw diet (link to diet) or feeding a grain free dog food and grain free treats, will eliminate the cause of the infection and allow recovery to begin. Remaining on a grain based dog food or feeding grain based treats will allow bad yeast to continue to thrive and can hinder or halt recovery. Most pathogenic yeast species thrive on carbohydrates and sugars. It is a common misconception that dogs use carbohydrates for energy so most dog foods contain them. Dogs actually will naturally use high quality fats, like those found in meat, for energy. A carbohydrate/sugar free diet is a must for dogs recovering from systemic yeast infections. Removing carbohydrates and sugars from the dog’s diet will make the food supply of most pathogenic species of yeast more scarce which will help to discourage new colonies and weaken existing ones so they can be more easily purged. Unfortunately, very few commercially available processed dog foods meet these requirements. There are no standards for the quality of dog food (as dogs are not food producing animals) and they can contain very poor quality ingredients. It is much easier and usually cheaper to feed a modified raw diet that consists of meat and vegetables. Feeding a homemade diet isn’t nearly as difficult as you might think and you will have peace of mind of knowing that your dog’s food meets human quality standards. You can learn how to feed your dog a diet of fresh, real food by reading Nature’s Farmacy’s free User Friendly Diet For Dogs With Yeast Infections. Please feel free to contact one of our qualified dieticians for assistance.

The seconds step is to crowd out the negative bacteria. A dog’s body has a limited amount of space for colonizing yeast and bacteria. Bombarding the animal’s body with beneficial bacteria and yeast cultures will crowd out the negative ones and in many cases, even consume them. Crowding out the negative bacteria and yeast with positive species will also help to speed the correcting of the pH levels as more digestion-friendly species begin to colonize and start competing for food physical room. To jump-start purging of systemic yeast pathogens and pH correction you will need a microbial product with high counts colony forming units of beneficial species of both bacteria and yeast, such as Nature’s Farmacy DOGZYMES Digestive Enhancer or Liquid Dispersible Digestive Enhancer. Initially, we recommend feeding double the usual suggested feeding rate to ensure colonization during this critical jump-start period. After the systemic yeast infection has been purged you may return to the normal suggested rate.

A useful third step is to kill the yeast in the skin. The medium chain fatty acids in our Organic Hawaiian Coconut Oil (Caprylic, Capric, and Lauric Acid) all work together to kill most common types of systemic yeast. In fact, many common prescription treatments for yeast infections are derived from coconut oil. The medium chain fatty acids travel throughout the skin killing systemic yeast that the Digestive Enhancer has pushed out of the inner body leaving nowhere for the yeast to thrive.

The fourth step is to treat the external outbreaks of systemic yeast infections. In standard veterinary practice, most of the time this is the first or only part treated. Treating external symptoms without treating the underlying cause rarely works and symptoms quickly return when topical treatment is stopped. Please understand that topical treatments are only intended to provide relief for the animal’s symptoms. For topical outbreaks of most species systemic yeast, bacteria, or other fungi, we have found success using our topical bacteriocin, Clora-Care. The active ingredient in Clora-Care, Ambicin N, discriminates between harmful bacteria and healthy skin which allows the product to be gentle on the dog and aggressive on negative bacteria, yeast, and fungi. Clora-Care can kill negative pathogens and provide relief in as little as 15 seconds and can hold its killing power for up to 12 hours. Please note that Clora-Care will leave a harmless, temporary blue hue to the skin and hair. When treating “yeasty ears” it is important to clean them before applying Clora-Care. Use Nature’s Farmacy Easy Ear (An all Natural Essential Oil Blend) to thoroughly clean all debris from the ear. Easy Ear is formulated to gently lift the debris from the inner and outer ear. It removes the earwax while nurturing the ear skin to promote faster healing.

It is important to understand that there are no shortcuts when dealing with a systemic yeast infection. Failure to remove the source of the infection can prolong it indefinitely. Many dogs may never be able to return to a typical commercial diet of grain/carbohydrate based dog food without experiencing a recurrence of yeast invasion.

Nature’s Farmacy Inc.

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  25 Responses to “Systemic Yeast Infections in Dogs”

  1. avatar

    I have a cocker 7 years old he continues to have a problem with yeast in his ears and chews on his paws.I got easy ear and was recommended a special grain free diet. My question is how often can I use the Easy Ear??

    • Hi Barbara, You can use the Easy Ear daily if needed, depending on the severity of the infection at this time. Once it is under control, once a week is sufficient. Other key tools in trying to deal with a yeast infection are the Dogzymes Probiotic Max and Organic Coconut Oil.

  2. I have a 7 yr old foster dog with severe allergies, yeasty skin, hair loss, and IBS. If she gets into my dog’s food, which is chicken-based, her hairless chest turns bright red. I tried to switch her to a raw diet, but took some advice and started on a turkey formula, and she totally bunged up and could not poop for a week, even after several mineral oil enemas. Switched her to a raw fish formula and things improved, but was unable to get more, so switched her again to canned Mackerel and baked sweet potato. It was a huge improvement digestion-wise, but after being on it for five weeks she is ravenous all the time and the hair loss and stinky yeasty skin was far worse. She managed to get into a boarding client’s food, a grain-free brand called Pure Vita which is Salmon kibble with pea as the binding starch, and didn’t get sick from it. So I have switched her to that. She was no longer ravenous, and her poops, while still soft, are regular. But she is a mess. Her owners said that her allergies have existed since she was a pup (they bought her from an ad on Kijiji) and medical records, when I finally got them, show that she was hospitalized for 4 days last March after getting into a container of Beef Chow Mein. At this point fish seems to be the safest protein source – any suggestions on how to detox her?

    • She absolutely needs to have as much coconut oil rubbed into her skin as possible as well as adding it to her diet along with the Probiotic Max fed daily. That will make the biggest difference for her, you should notice an improvement in her smell in just a few days. The more natural the coconut oil the more effective. I have had completely hairless dogs get most of their coat back in a month (short coated). We do see a lot of these “allergy” cases start as pups I believe because of the total onslaught of stress and medications given to puppies. Irregardless of where your puppy comes from, they have usually been wormed, vaccinated and stressed when they come into a new home. And then heaven forbid they get diarrhea, even if it is stressed induced, the normal course of action these days is to re-worm and antibiotics. None of which is good for the digestive system, further depleting the probiotic counts. The yeast then jump in and take advantage. Once you get the yeast under control and her probiotic counts built back up, her hyper-reactivity to other foods should diminish.

  3. I accidentally used spaghetti squash instead of yellow, will that be a problem. Also what else vegetables and meat wise can I use?I know it’s good to mix up their protiens.
    Thank you,

    • Hi Kristie,
      When treating yeast, it’s my personal preference to not use any squash at all. If you stick to just green leafy vegetables like Kale, Collar Greens, Turnip Greens etc you will absolutely minimize the carbs and sugars in the diet to the best of your ability. Meat options can include Beef, Chicken, Pork, Eggs, etc. I will say through personal experience my dogs have never been able to handle just pork as their meat source for a meal, I always have to mix it at most half and half with something else. Venison or other game meat is an exceptional option if you have it available to you.

      • Thanks Stephanie! I honestly don’t know if he actually has a yeast issue or not, but we are testing the diet to try. The thing I got said squash and zucchini were good. He loves Brussel sprouts so I also use those.

        • Brussel Sprouts are good. One thing I have noticed with yeasty dogs that sometimes gets discouraging to owners trying the diet… when there is such an overgrowth of yeast in the body making the dogs itchy, once you try to cut down on the food supply to the yeast (carbs and sugars) the excess yeast tends to head out of the body, usually through the skin. This is when you may see little pimples break out, usually on the belly. In essence the dogs skin appears to get worse before it gets better. During this time it makes a HUGE difference if you can apply Coconut Oil directly to the skin. I personally like the Coconut Oil on the skin for yeast infections better than anything else because I think it does a better job of soaking into the skin and helping kill the yeast in the different layers of skin. The topical vinegar spray mixes and medicated shampoos do not have the same far reaching capabilities. If you do not kill the yeast in/on the skin it does appear to be able to live there for quite some time, no matter how well you are feeding the dog. Whatever you do, do not bathe a dog with oatmeal shampoo that is having yeast problems. The oatmeal in the shampoo will actually feed the yeast.

  4. My just 3 year old Golden had a mild case of the itchies which started last Spring. This Spring, they were worse with most of the hair licked off the insides of his legs, chewing his paws, oogie eyes & scratching his face. I was reading a dog blog somewhere that talked about the dog smelling like Fritos is a sign that they have allergies. Above, you talk about the dog having a yeast smell. Now I am confused. I switched our Golden over to Earthborn grain free dry food and freeze dried lamb lung treats (which smell like road kill), and sprinkle his food with Dogzymes Probiotic Max. I was also giving him Benadryl and bathing him about once every 2 or 3 weeks. That was helping until just lately, & now he’s scratching & licking like crazy again. There is hair everywhere and I have to sweep daily. HELP!

  5. About six months ago, I spoke at length with Stephanie about a bitch with a severe systemic skin problem. It got so bad that I was pretty sure she would have to be euthanized. I tried the diet, removing any “yeasty” ingredients. Honestly, after a very expensive trip to the Univ. of Minnesota Veterinary skin specialist, I did not hold out much hope for this diet. I only stuck with it because Stephanie told me that she had known of other dogs in this condition to completely recover and get off steroids and antibiotics. This diet was my last hope, and it worked!!! This bitch is so beautiful now that you would never know she had had a serious issue. I will NEVER to back to kibble. I have my butcher buy combined chicken necks and backs. He grinds it like hamburger. I grind the veggies in a Ninja blender to the same consistency and feed the recommended supplements plus coconut oil. Now all of my dogs are on this diet, they love it, and they look and feel fantastic! Thanks, so much, Stephanie!!!

  6. Hello, just came across your website. I have a 3.5 yr old female Boxer who has systemic yeast infection and quite a serious case of it. This has been going on since she was a pup but, of course, it was incorrectly diagnosed and incorrectly treated for over a year, and I fed the wrong types of foods as well not knowing any better. Even though I have had her on a completely carbo free and sugar free diet for almost 2 years now she still has noticeable ongoing problems with SYI. She scratches her face, nose, ears, chews her paws – all until she either removes her hide or bleeds significantly. Her ears have the distinct smell of yeast infection. The issue ebbs and flows but never subsides entirely nor is she cured. She is the type of dog who loves life at 500 MPH so when she’s running at 50 MPH I know she’s not right.

    I feed her and another female Boxer about 2.5 yrs old who is also susceptible to SYI but not as severe. They are both being fed the same diet, which is (generally) ground, cooked hamburger (no seasonings), sometimes I feed cooked chicken or cooked fish (no seasonings), and ground fresh broccoli with a splash of lemon juice (hoping to adjust their PH balance) and olive oil (no grain-based oils). This oil/lemon juice also keeps the broccoli tasting uniform. Both dogs have xlnt appetites and will eat almost anything I give them so eating food is not the issue. They get fed twice daily at the same time and almost always eat their meals entirely. I found using broccoli as the “filler” worked out well since it was readily available year round where I live in Ecuador, and it was affordable when feeding two good-sized dogs.

    My older Boxer likes apple cider vinegar while the younger one gets the burps from it so I stick to lemon juice for her. Neither seem to get any outward noticeable benefits from the vinegar use btw. I have used 11 strain probiotics for both in the past to no avail. I have used acidophylus in varying strengths and strain combos to no avail.

    I have tried feeding raw meaty bones but am concerned about perforating an intestine. And the fact that they aren’t really full. Yet when I feed enough raw meaty bones to get them full they become constipated and act sick.

    Veterinarians here don’t have a clue about SYI and I’m rather out of ideas. Just read that feeding too much broccoli can be dangerous yet what other foods can I feed to my dogs who are so sensitive?

    • Hi – I understand the frustration of these cases. We have so many people asking us for help because you are right – vets just don’t seem to be able to figure this out. We have dealt with thousands of cases over the 32 years of our business and have some protocols that are pretty successful. Before I can do much to make recommendations, I need a little background. Are you living in Ecuador now? Broccoli is one of the vegetables that does contain a pretty good amount of carbohydrates. What kind of vegetables in the leafy green type are available where you live? You should not feed dogs spinach as a steady diet. Spinach has the effect on dogs to bind magnesium and that disrupts proper calcium absorption. Collard greens, beet greens, chard, kale, yellow squash, zucchini, are some of the vegetables you can substitute as variety in place of the broccoli. Also, can you tell me the brand of probiotics you are using so I can analyze the guaranteed analysis and see the quality of the product. You might have an 11 strain type, but it may still be far from adequate to help combat yeast effectively. Let me know and also what is the best way to communicate with you? thanks.

    • avatar

      You may want to look into to much broccoli.

      BROCCOLI: There has been a bit of confusion where broccoli is concerned. Broccoli is very good for dogs, however, if the daily intake exceeds more than 10% of the animals diet – problems can occur. The toxic substance is isothiocyanate and can cause gastrointestinal irritation.
      NOTE: Broccoli toxicity was first noted in dairy cattle raised in California. When there was an over abundant broccoli crop, it was fed to the cattle. Problems may have occurred because cattle have rumens and digest things much more thoroughly, therefore taking in more of the toxic substance

    • BROCCOLI: There has been a bit of confusion where broccoli is concerned. Broccoli is very good for dogs, however, if the daily intake exceeds more than 10% of the animals diet – problems can occur. The toxic substance is isothiocyanate and can cause gastrointestinal irritation.
      NOTE: Broccoli toxicity was first noted in dairy cattle raised in California. When there was an over abundant broccoli crop, it was fed to the cattle. Problems may have occurred because cattle have rumens and digest things much more thoroughly, therefore taking in more of the toxic substance

  7. Thanks so much! I found it after searching frantically! Haha.

    Question for you. I’m following this diet but only doing chicken and green beans. Do you recommend we switch up the protein and veggies or is it ok to just stick with one? Also, she’s been on it almost 2 weeks and is better but still scratching some. Should I extend the carb-free diet a little longer or go ahead and start adding in the carbo veggies? I just ordered the coconut oil so she has not been taking that yet.

    She also seems very tired. Didn’t know if anyone else noticed that when they started this diet. Thanks so much for your help!

    • Hi Patty,

      I would recommend that you switch from the green beans to a green leafy vegetable blend like collard, mustard, turnip greens and/or kale. Sometimes there is still enough sugar in the green beans to feed the yeast. I would keep her on only green leafy vegetables until all itchiness is eliminated.

      There could be a couple of explanations regarding her energy level. First of all, cutting down and eliminating carbohydrates and sugars in the diet will stop the “sugar rush” type behavior that a lot of people see after feeding commercially made dog food. A better source of sustainable energy for the dogs comes from fat. If you are feeding skinless chicken with the fat cleaned off, she may not be getting enough fat in her diet. You can mix your meat sources so adding some hamburger that naturally has more fat than chicken may produce the energy change you are looking for.

      If you have any other questions please let us know. You can email the office directly at or call 1-800-733-4981 from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm EST.

      Nature’s Farmacy

    • avatar

      I have found in taking care of my yeasty dog is to feed a proper raw diet of grass fed meats only, when she eats grain fed meats, especially chicken she breaks out in a rash/hive/and or pustules. I also NEVER feed veggies as dogs are carnivores, they do not have enough amylase in the digestive system to fully break down vegetables, yes they have amylase in there mouth. I give my furbaby a probiotic 2x per day and a special concoction using HEEL products for daily drops and one for the weekends (detox drops). After a year and a half with minor out breaks (mainly b/c I’m trying a new food protein or supplement) she is pretty much stable.

      • Hi Lynn – you are right. Grass fed meats are best and while no research exists yet to show that meat from grain fed animals should be evaluated in diets for yeast cases, it has been interesting over the many years we have worked with yeast affected dogs that question of meat source comes up. When feeding dogs diets with vegetables, we can assist the digestive system by providing amylase in the probiotics we produce. We have always incorporated the full range of enzymes added to our probiotic products. Also, it is important to pulverize the vegetables to break down the cellulose to release the nutrients. Actually dogs DO produce amylase in the pancreas also. But the question is can they ever produce enough to digest the typical 50% carbohydrate content in commercial foods. We suspect no, and this may account for so many cases of pancreatitis, which is diagnosed by blood panels to find excess amylase or lipase in the bloodstream. It was about 30 years ago I started recommending probiotics and enzymes for canines. We have developed products over the years that meet the demands of the digestive function of dogs and cats and horses. Our products are the result of paving the way for the last 30 years to prove the importance of using these in animal feeds on a daily basis and by utilizing bacteria species and enzymes that play a major role in their ability to manage the diets they are fed. We have adapted our probiotic/enzyme blends to deal with the highly abnormal foods people are instructed to feed their animals. Commercial dog food and cat food products are excessively high in grains or potato or other starches and create real problems especially when no care is taken to add the lacking enzymes and boost overall beneficial bacteria numbers. If our dogs had access to complete carcass meals there would be no need for us to fortify the meat with vegetable source vitamins and trace minerals as they would be provided by the prey gut contents and liver and other organs. However, our food/meat source for our household carnivores is not usually a complete carcass of prey, so we must adapt the diet through supplements and extra food additives. Dogs DO need antioxidants for health. In order to do that, we have to provide a source and then provide the extra digestive elements to help them utilize those things. Vegetables are really the only source we can get to support those needs. That is why we have been promoting and teaching the use of probiotics and enzymes to offset the lack of sufficient digestive function in dogs and cats and even horses, which are not actually high starch grain eaters either. They are grazers. Nature didn’t expect humans to feed either horses or cattle and especially canines and felines grains, etc. because they were never designed to eat those things. You didn’t mention the name or brand of your probiotic but if you let me know, I can tell you how it compares to some other products such as ours or what the vets may be selling. There is a vast difference in probiotic products and few contain the needed enzymes.

  8. Hi there. I found this diet 2 weeks ago and came back to look at it again but the link is gone. There is no link in this to the diet and when I go to my bookmarked page it says it is not found. I’ve had my dog on it for over a week and I wanted to review it. Can you email me the PDF or re-post? Thanks so much.

  9. I am having a TERRIBLE time with my dog’s yeast infection. I took him off the antibiotics, steriods and anti fungals medicines, started acidophilus, yogurt and Blue brand dog food, and apple cider vinegar. He is incredibly worse the last few days. It’s so awful. I’m at my wits end and can’t afford to keep going back and forth to vet. Need help now.

  10. I am having a TERRIBLE time with my dog’s yeast infection. I took him off the antibiotics, steriods and anti fungals medicines, started acidophilus, yogurt and Blue brand dog food, and apple cider vinegar. He is incredibly worse the last few days. It’s so awful. I’m at my wits end and can’t afford to keep going back and forth to vet. HELP!!!

  11. avatar

    I can’t tell you how much this information has helped me. Thank you so much!! I have an older pug who, from the day she came home at eight weeks old, has had trouble with processed dog food. In fact she sniffed and turned away the first time I tried to feed her. hmmmmm. Was she telling me way back when that the stuff was BAD FOR HER!!?? All these years later, and post many Vet visits, someone tells me about your “helpline”.

    I spoke to a most informative and gracious man named Jim. He listened and counseled for over 40 minutes!! WOW!! Where on earth does that happen without a mega bill attached to it?

    Now Bridget has been off processed dog food for almost three weeks and WHAT A DIFFERENCE! The itchiness is gone, the sores are gone, she’s more energetic and “regular”.

    So how do I live with the regret of not feeding her properly for most of her life? UGHHH

    Perhaps with the next dog, if there is one, I will do things completely differently. Again, thank you, and keep up the good work.

    Heather Smith, Montville, NJ

    p.s. HI JIM

  12. What are the best dry dog foods available for dogs with yeast infections?

  13. My dog is now on meat and greens only with digestive enhancer and coconut oil. How long does it generally take to get rid of the system yeast infection?

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