** First and Foremost:
We encourage you to do your own research. There is a ton of information available on the internet ...Everyone always has an opinion and a remedy when it comes to things ailing your pet....but please, don't take everything you read or hear at face value!! QUESTION EVERYTHING!! -Even from us - and yes, even question your vet!
So many people run on blind faith and assume that vets are "all knowing." They have all the answers and know whats best for your beloved pet at all times...but from our experience, this is not always the case! If you feel like your vet is giving you the run around, you've been back and forth a bunch of times and they're not getting any better, don't be afraid to ask questions...or better yet, get a second opinion!
Our hope is that we can help educate you from our years of hands on experience ...and in doing so, extend the life of your pet!
As professional groomers, we see hundreds of dogs on a regular basis, so we come across many common skin and coat ailments. The most common being:
We see so many of them these days. 80% of the dogs that come in for grooming have some type of an "allergy" (according to their vet.) They come in for grooming with their bottles of medicated shampoo - the ones that don't get the dog clean because they don't lather, they smell awful and we have to leave them on for at least 10 minutes. They bring their medicated anti itch sprays, ear ointments and creams that we must apply to the designated areas ...including butts! Yes indeed. Fun fun. But lets face it, most people aren't regularly digging around in their dogs ears. That's the groomers job... so we have a pretty good idea of whats going on in there.
So, after applying the same greasy ear medication to a clients dog, over the course of about 6 months for a chronic ear infection, ("caused by allergies")and not seeing any improvement, I started to question it. What was the point of continuing to use something that obviously wasn't working, just because the vet said to do so!? And what the heck is going on in that ear? I needed answers! And more importantly, I needed to help this poor dog that was obviously suffering. (It was so badly infected his mom was not able to put the medicine in anymore because he would try to bite.)
This is how my quest for answers began. And in doing so, we found out the vet was wrong in his diagnosis, and the treatment he had prescribed was actually making it worse! After consulting my client about my research and findings, she tried some of the remedies we discovered... and within a week, it cleared up! We couldn't believe it. (She had been struggling with this issue for YEARS)
Since then, I have learned so much. And now, I feel it is my obligation to share this information with you, as not only your dogs groomer, but as a fellow pet owner and lover... Because at Spaw, we love your dogs as much as you do!
When I was a child, dogs didn't have"allergies". They got some dry kibble, a can of Alpo and some dinner scraps and they were healthy as can be! So what changed? What's going on? What's with all the allergies? You may be surprised at the answer!
We find that so many vets will classify a multitude of symptoms into this one word: "allergies". We hear it every day. "He has allergies". "What is he allergic to?", we ask. "Oh they aren't sure what the trigger is yet... But he went for a cortisone shot and they gave us this special shampoo...and next week we are going to have him allergy tested for $1,500." ...
I cringe every time!
One of the most common "allergies", for lack of a better term, is in fact, a yeast infection.
So, before you run back to the vet spending thousands of dollars on shots, shampoos, sprays, ointments and allergy testing... only to come back to square one...please read this first.
Yeast Infection - most common symptoms:
Excessively scratching at ears or rubbing them on the rug -usually causing matting from the rubbing
Red, swollen or greasy ears (may even look like cauliflower)
Strange musty odor that won't go away- even after a bath - (Some say the smell resembles corn chips.) usually odor comes from ears, feet, or face- but can be all over
Coat seems either dull, dry or oily. May have sparse areas with hair loss
Crusty or "cheesy" yellowish colored substance that is typically greasy to the touch (and smells funky) usually found between the toes or on the nails, under armpits, or genitals but can be all over.
Licking or biting at paws or privates- the color of the coat may even change to a reddish maroon color if licking is excessive
Skin or ears may feel hot to the touch
May seem twitchy, or jumpy when brushing or petting. Sensitive to the touch.
May seem lethargic and achey
Bloated or Gassy
If your dog has any of these symptoms, he may very well have an overgrowth of yeast. Or "allergies". Crazy to think all these different symptoms can be caused by one thing.
So, what is yeast?
Candida is a sugar digesting organism (or fungus) that is naturally present in the body at all times, promoting a healthy balanced immune system in both people and pets. It is known as "good bacteria". You can find it in the mouth, nose, ears, genitals and digestive track. Under normal circumstances, this fungus is kept in balance by the other good bacteria and microbes.
If your dogs immune system is somehow compromised, the good bacteria will try to fight off the bad bacteria. Thats it's job...To restore balance. But sometimes it gets knocked too far off kilter, and it is unable to resore balance, resulting in an overgrowth of yeast flora. (yeast infection) If left untreated, and given the right environment, yeast can thrive, and spread rapidly affecting the whole body, inside and out causing a multitude of problems.
What causes it?
Yeast overgrowth is typically caused by the use of one of the following: antibiotics, (being number one) immunosuppressive drugs (such as steroids, like Prednisone and cortisone) and most important, diet.
Lets explain how antibiotics work:
An antibiotics job is to kill bacteria, but the thing is, it doesnt discriminate between the good and the bad...it's full on genocide to 90% of ALL bacteria...so yes...if your dog is given antibiotics to treat his "allergies" it will most likely kill the yeast... and you will likely notice the symptoms diminish... BUT before you know it, you finish the medication, and a week later it's back ...and usually with a vengeance! Because this time, the immune system has to work twice as hard, to not only fight off the bad bacteria, but to also try and replenish the good bacteria that was killed in the process. So, If the cause of the bacteria overgrowth was not treated, You are not getting to the root of the problem and it will eventually just come back, causing a vicious cycle.
Keep in mind, this information is valid for humans as well. Here's an example: A woman goes to the doctor for a toothache. Doc says she has an infection, gives her antibiotics to kill the infection. She takes the antibiotics as prescribed and the next thing she knows, she has a yeast infection. This happened because the antibiotics killed all the good bacteria that was fighting off the candida overgrowth. This is the exact same thing with a dog.
But what if I never gave my dog antibiotics?!
Well here's where we blow your mind. Antibiotics are in the food that we eat!! Are you aware that the majority of livestock that are used for producing food (for human and animal consumption) are fed antibiotics? Almost ALL chicken, about 90% of pork and 70% of beef. (Look it up for yourself if you don't believe us) Truth of the matter is, you are what you eat. And if your body is constantly being fed antibiotics, You are not going to have any good bacteria left to keep your immune system balanced. It will be a constant struggle for your body to keep up. No wonder everyone is sick and tired and has "allergies" This is a very serious problem. Do you see where we are going with this? Is it starting to make sense?
Yeast can grow anywhere on the body, But it thrives on humidity and moisture.(which is why we see more "allergy flare ups" in the warmer months) It is probably most common in the ear. Especially dogs with drop down ears such as cocker spaniels, cavaliers, and golden retrievers. It starts out waxy, then gets red, swollen and smelly. If left untreated it can turn into what we call cauliflower ear and actually affect the hearing. Yeast infection in the ear can be made worse if water gets in the ear. (always use an alcohol based ear cleaner immediately after a bath or swimming to dry out the ear canal to avoid this)
Chronic ear yeast is usually linked to diet. (which we will get into later) And from our experience, if you use the wrong ear medicine when yeast is present (especially one that is greasy) it will just keep the ear moist and the yeast will thrive.
Luckily, There are several things you can do at home to ease the discomfort and start the healing process, while you get to the root of the problem, (and it wont cost you hundreds of dollars)
How do I treat it?
The first thing you need to do is get the good bacteria back . This is done by taking probiotics. (Such as acidophilus) A Probiotic is compiled of live organisms, bacteria and yeast and does the opposite of an antibiotic. It is a bottle full of "good bacteria". You need to get the good guys back into the system to help restore balance. Most pet stores sell different kinds of probiotics, some are refridgerated. Natures bounty makes chewable acidophilus that you can find at your local pharmacy. Unless your dog is a picky eater, they usually like it, and will readily eat it.
Another way to get the good bacteria in the gut is with yogurt. Plain Greek yogurt. You can give your dog a couple spoonfulls daily, or mix it with food. They usually like this too.
**DO NOT give an oatmeal bath to a dog with yeast!! Oatmeal feeds yeast!!
Treating yeast ear infections
One of the best and fastest remedies for knocking out yeast in the ear or on the body is with lotrimin cream. (clotrimazole is the generic brand) Lotrimin is an antifungal cream found in the foot isle at the pharmacy and is used for curing athletes foot. It is the exact same thing as gyno-lotrimin that women use for a yeast infection. The same candida fungus is responsible for all of these things. (Lotrimin is also a very good remedy for a severe diaper rash too- just FYI)
To treat ears - do this once a day for a week:
1. First clean the infected ear using a cotton ball that has been dipped in either witch hazel, or apple cider vinegar. Use as many cotton balls as you need until they wipe clean.
2. Squirt a little bit of lotrimin directly into the ear and squish it around. Do not wipe until the following day.
Repeat these 2 steps every day for about a week... It is important to clean the ear in between treatments because when yeast starts to die off, it forms a crust, which if not removed, can become a breeding ground for more bacteria to grow.
Lotrimin can also be used on the body and between the toes, but you don't want your dog to lick it. And chances are, if he can reach it, he will lick it. You may have to get an "E collar" from the pet store to prevent this. It may be uncomfortable for him to wear, but in the long run it will be worth it.
I was going to include a section on diet, but then i realized how long this already is and I could probably write an entire book on diet alone (and who knows? Maybe someday I will, but not right now!) For the time being, I am just going to give you some suggestions and encourage you to research for yourself.
The best way to deal with a food allergy and find the trigger is by process of elimination. You do this by switching to a protein that your dog has not had before (such as venison, rabbit or fish.) Also eliminate all treats and table food (make sure the whole family is on board and that grandma isn't sneaking milk bone biscuits on the side! ) If you must feed treats, Stick with treats of the same brand with the same protein you chose... (The best way is to eliminate ALL treats, but that can be difficult...everyone deserves a treat!) Keep him on this strict diet for about a month, and then slowly start to re-introduce things. ONE AT A TIME... keep an eye out for feet licking which is one of the first signs that it has triggered an allergy.
The most common triggers are chicken, wheat, & grains.
There are hundreds of brands of dog food on the market. Many are now even formulated for dogs with "allergies". Be sure to speak to your vet about your concerns and don't be afraid to ask questions.
Avoid low quality supermarket brand foods.
You dont need to buy the most expensive brand just research the ingredients
Avoid foods that are high in carbs.
Avoid foods with corn. It has no nutritional value and is used as a filler.
Avoid wheat, rice and potatoes. These are high carb.
The ear of a golden retriever with chronic yeast infections.
Red yeast on the feet of a havanese...caused by excessive licking due to an allergy to chicken.