Dogs' Ear Yeast Infections

Chihuahua getting an ear exam.

In dogs, ear yeast infections are fairly prevalent. The moist environment of the ear is ideal for the growth of fungal yeast, which can lead to infection if it becomes too large. Itching, irritation, and a foul odor result. Floppy-eared dogs are especially vulnerable because their ears collect moisture. Ignoring infected ears can result in severe skin crusting, so knowing how to spot—or sniff—the signs is crucial.

What Is an Ear Yeast Infection?

When yeast species overpopulate a dog's ear, an ear yeast infection ensues. Malassezia pachydermatis is the yeast species most commonly seen in dog ears. This yeast is not the same as the yeast used to bake bread or the yeast found in probiotics. It is naturally found in very minute numbers on the skin and ears of dogs, but it can cause illness if the correct circumstances are present. The ear canal as well as the ear flap might be impacted.

Symptoms of Ear Yeast Infections in Dogs


  • Shaking head
  • Scratching at ears
  • Painful ears
  • Red or swelling inside ears
  • Yeasty odor from the ears
  • Excessive ear wax or debris
  • Thickened ear flaps
  • Ear skin scaling
  • Drooping ear

A yeast infection causes a dog to toss his head and scratch his ears, similar to a bacterial ear infection. This is because the infection produces and inflammation. Due to pain, your dog may be hesitant to have its head and ears touched.

A yeast infection causes redness, swelling, and thickening of the skin within the ear. Ear flap skin scaling or crusting is also prevalent, especially in severe or chronic instances. There may be a sour bread dough odor, as well as abundant, greasy ear dirt.

Causes of Ear Yeast Infections

There are several causes of ear yeast infections in dogs. Some of the most common causes include:

  • : If a dog has an allergy to something in the environment or food then a yeast overgrowth may occur in the ear. The body reacts to the allergen with inflammation, and this, in turn, can cause the yeast to proliferate in the ear.
  • : Ear mites, which feed off of a dog's ear wax, can cause irritation and inflammation in the ear. This can result in an overgrowth of yeast.
  • Moisture: An ear canal is a warm place, and yeast thrive in warm, moist environments. If water enters the ear canal and the ears do not properly dry out, yeast will reproduce and cause an infection. This often occurs after a dog gets a bath or goes swimming.
  • Ear deformities: Some dogs are born with abnormal ear canals or excessive ear tissue. Other dogs will develop ear issues over time due to trauma, recurrent infections, or other things. These deformities usually make it difficult for an ear to stay dry and instead trap moisture that helps to create an environment for yeast to grow in.
  • Tumors: Some tumors in the ear block the opening to the ear canal. This causes excessive heat and moisture to build up and encourages the overgrowth of yeast.

Some hormonal changes, antibiotic use, and other skin issues may also cause ear yeast infections in dogs.

Diagnosing Ear Yeast Infections in Dogs

If you believe your dog has a yeast infection in its ears, have it checked out by a veterinarian. Your veterinarian will examine the ear canal with an otoscope to ensure the eardrum isn't burst. The ear debris will then be collected using a cotton swab for microscopic inspection to detect if yeast, bacteria, or both are present.

Treatment of Ear Yeast Infections in Dogs

To clear debris, your veterinarian will prescribe medicated ear drops and a cleaning. For around two weeks, they will be utilized. Anti-inflammatory drugs may be used if the ear is particularly painful.

Your veterinarian may need to sedate or anesthetize your dog to do the initial ear cleaning and therapy if the ear yeast infection is severe. Depending on the severity of the condition, your veterinarian may also offer various at-home therapies.

Prognosis for Dogs with Ear Yeast Infections

Yeast infections in dogs' ears are normally straightforward to treat with consistent medication, although infections are more likely to recur in dogs with predisposed factors. Recurrent ear yeast infections are more common in dogs with floppy ears, allergies, or ear abnormalities. Dogs who like playing in the water are more prone to develop a yeast infection due to an excess of yeast.

How to Prevent Ear Yeast Infections in Dogs

Keeping your dog's ears clean and dry is the most effective strategy to avoid an ear yeast infection. After bathing and swimming, use an ear cleaner with a drying agent to assist dry the ear canal. If your dog suffers from allergies, your doctor may suggest particular foods and supplements to help nourish the skin and reduce inflammation.


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