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Dogs with Yeast Infections – Malassezia Pachydermatis

There are various kinds of yeast infections that can affect dogs and one of them is called Malassezia pachydermatis. This one affects the skin of the dog and can happen in kinds of dog though some breeds, looked at below, are more prone. In most cases it is not a serious condition and can be treated but in a small amount of dogs it can cause more problems when it covers the whole body. If your dog appears to be scratching a lot and in discomfort this may indicate a yeast infection and warrants some investigation. We look here at what causes it, what breeds are more prone and how to treat it.


What Breeds are Affected?

While all dogs can be affected by this yeast infection at any age there are some dog breeds more prone to getting it which include;

West Highland White Terriers

Basset Hounds

German Shepherds

Shih Tzus

Cocker Spaniels


English Setters

Malassazia Pachydermatis Symptoms

The key symptom in this skin condition is itching. So you will notice your dog scratching often over a long time which is a problem because scratching spreads the infection and also can cause damage to the skin. This can cause other infections when the skin breaks too. Other symptoms to watch for include;

Skin becomes scaly and oily

The dog's skin smells different

If their faces are infected they will rub their muzzle a lot or scratch their face often

If his toes have it he will lick his paws and toes a lot

Some dogs can get it in the ears so may shake their heads and scratch at their ears

An unpleasant smell comes from the ears if they are infected

Other disease or infections in the ears like bacterial infections, hormonal imbalance, allergies can lead to a yeast infection developing

The dog may experience hair loss

Redness on the skin


The skin may thicken

Where on the Body Does it Happen?

All yeast infections prefer places that are prone to conditions they thrive in, moist and dark. Key areas Malassezia affets dogs on or in include;

Between the toes

In the ear canals

The vagina

In the rectum and anal sacs

The muzzle

While it is more likely to develop in one or more of those areas, Malassazia can spread across the whole body.

Causes of Malassezia

Malassezia is a yeast organism that flourishes in certain conditions. If you and your dog live in a climate that is humid or have summers with such conditions your dog is more likely to get a yeast infection. Also making him more prone is if his immune system is already compromised from something genetic or a pre-existing or former illness. For example if your dog has allergies and has been scratching because of them this could weaken the immune system and the skin enough to allow Malassezia to develop. Another factor is the level ear wax and oil in his skin. When the sebum and cerumen rise it can lead to a yeast infection. Finally long term use of certain medications can also make a dog more prone such as antibiotics or glucocorticoids.


In order to get a professional confirmed diagnosis of Malassezia pachydermatis in your dog you need to take him to a vet. He or she will perform a physical and ask about symptoms and also do some tests. They will take samples from places that look infected by swabbing, putting on and removing transparent tape or scraping. These can be examined under a microscope to look for the yeast. There are also other clinical test that may be performed to make sure the right diagnosis is reached. Even in healthy dogs you can find Malassezia organisms but this testing will ascertain whether there has been an overgrowth of the yeast leading to the symptoms. When those tests confirm that fact the vet can then start a course of treatment for your dog and talk with you about things to avoid at home and how you can make your dog more comfortable until the yeast infection clears up.

Treating Malassezia Pachydermatis

The primary action to take when treating dogs with Malassezia is to make the environment less hospitable for the yeast to thrive in. By creating a hostile environment the yeast will die. There are several ways to remove fat or lipids from the skin to create this effect.

There are shampoos that contain Chlorhexidine at 1% or more

Or shampoos that contain sulfur and benzoyl peroxide that also work

Selsun blue for humans can work on dogs and is safe to use though may cause some irritation

A Ketoconazole shampoo

A miconazole cream used twice a day for several weeks for smaller areas that are affected


For some dogs topical treatment does not work. This may be because they have a more severe form of the yeast infection or they may be resistant to it. For these dogs an oral treatment of an anti-fungal medication is needed to help them. Possible options include ketoconazole, itraconazole or fluconazole. Improvement happens after one to two weeks of treatment but continue with the treatment of as long as your vet prescribes which can be for as long as three to six weeks. Oral medicines are very effective at clearing up yeast infections like Malassazia pachydermatis but do cost more money and have toxic side effects dog owners should be aware of so check with the vet treating him. If the infection is in the ear the ears will need to be cleaned daily with something to prevent yeast growth like acetic acid or boric acid. Make sure the ears are dry after cleaning and then apply a prescribed topical treatment such as nystatin, thiabendazole or clomitrazole.