Written by Jeanne Champagne, Director of Boxer Rescue of NWA Published in Northwest Arkansas Health & Wellness Online Magazine
Several years ago, Riley, the youngest of our 4 grandsons told us that our boxer, Hooch, “smelled like Doritos.” We thought it was funny, as we could smell him, too, but never associated it with a chip. All the baths in the world didn’t take away “that smell”, but later Hooch broke out in a rash on his feet. To no avail, we tried the meds given to us by the vet, Epsom salt soaks, apple cider vinegar baths, another vet, more meds, fish oil, yogurt, vitamin E… still, “Mr. Dorito” retained his reputation.
Finally, we found another vet who, as he walked in the room, took a sniff and said, “Ah, this boy has a yeast infection!” and sure enough, about a month of a strong anti-fungal medication later, took care of the problem for years.
Since then, we have had many rescued boxers. You never quite forget that “Dorito-y” smell, and I can recognize it quite consistently every time.
Normal levels of yeast are present naturally in the body (dogs and humans); however, when the immune system is out of balance, there can be an overgrowth of this flora. Generally, when the yeast gets out of balance, there is an odor that some people describe as “moldy bread” or “cheese popcorn.” You may have been told otherwise, but it is NOT normal for dogs to stink!
If your dog is scratching continuously, licking his paws, has ear odor, and is “butt scooting” or “smells like a Dorito” consider the following:
1) Does your dog have the problem in one or both ears? Are all 4 paws looking blotchy and being licked, or just one? If it’s both ears and all paws, it could be a yeast infection.
2) Check out your dog’s food ingredients: Yeast must have sugar to grow and spread. Avoid corn, wheat and rice and other high carb dog food and sugary additives such as honey, corn syrup, or sweet potatoes and look for dog food that is sugar free with low-glycemic vegetables.
Add some anti-fungal foods such as a small amount of garlic or a few drops of oil of oregano which are anti-fungal and anti-yeast. Also add some pro-biotics like a dollop of yogurt in their food every meal.
3) The overabundance of yeast must be removed from your pets’ skin by disinfecting them. The ears can be disinfected and cleansed with a solution purchased from a pet store, or you can use witch hazel and large cotton balls to remove all that black waxy build up and debris. It won’t go away by itself – you simply have to clean it! Do not use Q-tips.
4) When there is a yeast infection, it’s important to also clean your dog’s feet, armpits, groin and anus, — disinfecting those parts is needed to prevent it from worsening in the hot humid months. Large dogs like boxers will need the remedy in the tub, using a bucket to ensure the rest of their body gets a good dose.
5) Remember that the yeast lives under their nail beds and in places you can’t get to if the dog’s paws are not fully submerged. To 1 Gallon of water, add 1 Cup of hydrogen peroxide and 3 cups of white vinegar as a foot soak. You can do this up to 4 times daily if your dog’s infection is bad enough. After the dog’s been well dipped (use a bucket to cover all his fur and let the solution drip down his sides; run it on his undersides as well.
6) DO NOT RINSE – you want the solution to stay on their skin to serve as an antifungal; it should reduce the dog’s urge to lick as well.
7) After shampooing, anti fungal rinses can be used all year and as often as 3-4 times weekly. For a scented, antifungal spray use 1 cup white vinegar, 1 cup of lemon juice and 20 drops of tea tree or peppermint oil to 1 gallon water. Pour from the neck down, but avoid use of this solution on their head. Ensure that your dog’s armpits, feet, groin and around the tail are saturated. Do not rinse but use a sham wow or towel to dry.
So how do you KNOW if your dog has a yeast infection?
Your dog will show signs of extreme itchiness and will scratch, chew, bite, lick and rub at his skin. He may appear almost frenzied in his scratching. He may have a red scabby rash that appears hot to the touch, experience a loss of hair, have dandruff or oily fur and often dogs have an offensive “cheesy” odor – these are pretty sure signs of a yeast infection. An advanced yeast infection make dogs so miserable they sometimes won’t even want to eat, can get depressed, or even grumpy.
Before your dog gets a new nickname like “Dorito” or “Cheese Puff” take steps to ensure food is well balanced and the yeast overload is combated with low sugar food, frequent baths, and a visit to the vet – however, stay away from steroid shots, they work for a while but often the yeast comes back with a vengeance. Remember to ask your vet to call in the prescription to your local pharmacist for the generic price of $4 – they sell many prescriptions that animals also take.