Yeast Infection in Dog’s Ears

Yeast Infection in Dog’s Ears: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Katelyn Son
By Katelyn Son
Medically reviewed by Ivana Crnec, DVM
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What Is Yeast Infection in Dog’s Ears?

Yeast Infection in Dog’s Ears: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Yeast infection in dog’s ears is a specific ear infection that develops when yeast species (Malassezia pachydermatis) that normally populate the dog’s ears overgrow. The overgrowth of yeasts leads to a disrupted balance of microorganisms in the ears, resulting in an ear infection.

The mentioned Malassezia pachydermatis is the most common cause of yeast infection in dog’s ears. In normal conditions, the yeast lives on the dog’s body – skin, skin folds, and ears in small numbers.

However, given the opportunity (warmth, moisture, weak immune system), it overgrows and causes outer ear infections (otitis externa) and skin infections (dermatitis).

Is Yeast Infection in Dogs Ear Painful?

Initially, a yeast infection in dog‘s ears is not painful – it is itchy, irritating, and uncomfortable, but not painful. However, if left untreated, it can cause complications that can be painful.

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What Causes Yeast Infections in Dog’s Ears?

Yeast infection in dog’s ears is caused by yeast overgrowth, which is a secondary problem. In simple words, there is an underlying condition that triggered the overgrowth of yeasts.

Here is a short review of some of the common underlying causes:

  • Other Ear Problems: Basically, all ear problems – from ear mites to ear hematomas can result in yeast overgrowth and ear infections.
  • Poor Ear Hygiene. Moisture and warmth support the growth of yeast. If the dog’s ears are left moist (after swimming or due to excessive grooming), they are likely to get infected. The same is true for leaving the hair inside the ear canals long and unkempt.
  • Skin Disease: Underlying diseases of the dog’s skin, like food allergies, atopic dermatitis, flea allergy dermatitis, and bacterial infections, can lead to yeast infections.
  • Hormonal Imbalances: Hormonal disorders (Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism, or diabetes) can lead to yeast overgrowth.
  • Weakened Immune System: A dog’s immune system can be weakened by infectious disease and immune-suppressive medications.

Yeast infection in dog’s ears is more common in dog breeds with floppy ears (like Cocker Spaniels and Basset Hounds) and dogs with hairy ear canals (like Poodles).

What Are the Symptoms of a Yeast Infections in Dog’s Ears?

Symptoms of a yeast infection in dog’s ears include:

  • Ear Odor: Yeasts produce an unusual smell which gives the dog’s ears a bad and musty odor. In severe cases, the entire dog may smell musty.
  • Ear Discharge: The buildup of yellow, brown, or black waxy discharge is likely in dogs with yeast infections.
  • Ear Scratching: Yeast infections cause itchy ears and make the dog scratch them or at least paw at the ears.
  • Painful Ears: A dog with a yeast infection can develop painful ears. Touching the ears may make the dog irritated or even aggressive.
  • Head-Shaking: Excessive head-shaking due to discomfort can be a sign of yeast infection in the ears.
  • Hair Loss: Due to excessive scratching and self-trauma, the hair around the base of the ears can fall out, and the skin can be flaky, crusty, or simply irritated.
  • Loss of Balance: If the ear infection spreads and affects the inner ear, the dog may show loss of balance and disorientation.
  • Hearing Loss: In rare and very severe cases, an untreated yeast infection in dog’s ears may result in partial or complete hearing loss.

What Can I Give My Dog for Yeast Infection?

Yeast Infection in Dog’s Ears: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

To manage a yeast infection in dog’s ears, you can use home remedies, over-the-counter cleaning products, and prescription meds (oral and topical medication). Here are some popular treatments for yeast infections in dogs.

Home Remedies for Yeast Infections. There are different home remedies that can be used to manage a yeast infection in dog’s ears. Common examples would be coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, and essential oils. Usually, you should dab a cotton ball in them and use it to clean the outer part of the ear flap and canal.

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Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Medicated Ear Drops. This Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Ear Therapy is medically formulated to help relieve ear infections in dogs and cats.

These medicated ear drops for dogs and cats clean and deodorizes the ear canal to clear up odor and other symptoms associated with ear infections while providing daily care maintenance for a healthy pet.

These medicated pet ear drops are alcohol-free and gentle enough for frequent use. It has a mild scent and is completely painless for your pets. Pet owners give this product 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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Zymox Otic Ear Solution with 1% Hydrocortisone. This product soothes ear infections, redness, and inflammation for pets of all ages. It has a gentle, no-sting formula that helps ease painful ear infections caused by germs, fungi, and yeast.

This solution provides a safe, natural alternative to oral medication with 1% Hydrocortisone for itch relief. It contains a patented LP3 Enzyme System that helps clear ear secretions and promotes healthy ears.

With this product, no pre-cleaning of painful ears is required – fill the ear canal and let the powerful solution get to work. Pet owners give this product 4.7 out of 5 stars.

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Curaseb Dog Ear Infection Antiseptic Treatment Wipes. This product treats and cleans ear flaps and crevices of sticky discharge and unwanted foreign visitors like pests.

Additionally, it deodorizes smelly ears from wax, dirt, and accumulated biofilms, leaving behind a pleasant cucumber melon scent. It also has a no-sting formula that has been recommended by several vets.

This product is made in the USA in a federally regulated manufacturing facility in small batches for quality and safety. Pet owners give this product 4.6 out of 5 stars.

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Arava Dog Ear Infection Treatment First Aid in Acute & Chronic Inflammations. This Arava natural dog ear infection treatment contains natural ingredients and exclusive dead sea minerals that offer numerous health benefits.

The minerals aid in the treatment of acute and chronic inflammation and can be used for routine ear cleaning in pets of all ages. It removes debris and dead tissues while cleansing and drying. Plus, it is non-irritating.

Arava’s natural and safe cleaning solution penetrates the deepest parts of the ear channel in order to offer your dog or cat relief from pesky undesirable organisms. Pet owners give this product 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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Smiling Paws Pets Antibacterial & Antifungal Wipe for Dogs. This unique non-sting antifungal dog wipes treat & eliminate skin infections caused by yeast, fungi, bacteria, mange, ringworm, hotspots, and pyoderma.

These pads are wet, small (2.5”x2.5”), and thin enough to fit every crevice without discomfort. If you previously have given your kitten or puppy costly prescription meds without relief, reconsider and try these wipes.

This powerful medicated solution is formulated with active ingredients that target the causes of itchy skin, even in small spaces like the ear canal. Pet owners give this product 4.2 out of 5 stars.

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VETNIQUE LABS Oticbliss Ear Cleaner Wipes/Flushes for Dogs. Oticbliss Medicated Dog Ear Flush is veterinary formulated to contain ketoconazole and chlorhexidine. These high-quality key ingredients help eliminate the cause of cat and dog ear infections.

The ear product cleanses and deodorizes your dog’s ears with a light, non-irritating scent, while soothing aloe vera leaves the pet’s ears less red and itchy.

Oticbliss Medicated Dog Ear Cleaner works to gently but effectively eliminate itchy, scaly irritation and restores the natural balance to the ear environment. Pet owners give this product 4.6 out of 5 stars.

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How Do You Cure Dog Ear Yeast Infection?

Treating a yeast infection in dog’s ears requires topical antifungals (drops and ointments). The most common active ingredients in these meds are ketoconazole and miconazole. Plus, some antifungal drops and ointments will contain anti-inflammatory medications. In more severe cases, the vet can also prescribe oral antifungals.

In conjunction with these antifungals, the vet may suggest using ear cleaners that will remove the ear wax buildup and allow the medication to reach the lining of the dog’s ear canal.

Either way, when dealing with a yeast infection, it is important to see a vet. The vet will examine the dog (using an otoscope), establish a diagnosis, and recommend a treatment plan.

If your dog is prone to ear yeast infections, it is advisable to get anti-yeast dog food. This dog food is specifically formulated to keep the yeast population in check and prevent their overgrowth.

What Happens if a Dog Ear Yeast Infection Goes Untreated?

If a yeast infection in dog’s ears, it can evolve into a chronic ear infection or spread to the inner ear and cause complications. In severe cases, untreated ear infections can result in hearing loss.

What Happens if a Dog Ear Yeast Infection Goes Untreated?

Will Dog Ear Yeast Infection Go Away on its Own?

It is unlikely for yeast infection in dog’s ears to go away on its own.

In most cases, it takes between 4 and 6 for the infection to clear, with treatment. Based on the severity, the vet may recommend cleaning the dog’s ear canal. Then, they will probably prescribe your dog medications or suggest using specific over-the-counter ear cleaners.