TREATING YEAST NATURALLY
by Janet E. Schultz © 2008
You know the symptoms….scratching of ears, licking and chewing of paws…red or scaly skin, itchy rectal/genital area…Oh, and sometimes that smell….Yep, your beloved dog has a yeast infection…again…So what can you do?
Many people go straight to a conventional vet, running up expensive bills and using harmful chemical-laden shampoos and caustic prescription medicines. These tactics are actually a poor attempt to treat the symptoms, and do nothing to address the underlying problem. In addition, the vet may misdiagnose the yeast as a bacterial infection and prescribe an antibiotic, which only serves to create more of a yeast problem. More commonly, the vet will diagnose an “allergy” and prescribe antihistamines or worse, steroids (a.k.a. cortisone). Steroids wreak havoc on the immune system and also serve to accelerate yeast growth and other immune-weakened conditions.
But there is a better way, a natural way. It is not always simple nor will it cure the problem overnight, but with a little patience, you can help your dog to live a happy yeast-free life. Below is a 3-Tiered Guide for Natural Yeast Treatment. But first, let’s talk about what yeast is, why it overgrows, and how to get a definitive diagnosis.
WHAT IS YEAST?
Yeast is a fungal organism normally found in small amounts in all of us, including our dogs. Yeast cells live in the intestinal tract, on the skin, and in mucous membranes throughout the body. The most common types in dogs are “Candida albicans” and “Malasezzia pachydermatis.” Candida lives in the digestive tract, while Malasezzia tends to live on the skin, in between paws, and in ears. Excessive yeast creates problems as it secretes enzymes and toxins which stress the immune system, overload the liver, and deposit in body tissues.
WHAT CAUSES YEAST TO OVERGROW?
Many factors contribute to yeast overgrowth in dogs such as poor diet (feeding grains/carbohydrates/sugars), the use of antibiotics, steroids and other prescription drugs, environmental toxins, vaccines, and stress. All of these factors can alter the pH balance of the gut which creates a ripe environment for yeast to thrive.
One of the main causes of yeast overgrowth is antibiotics, which kill off both the “bad bacteria” (causing the infection) AND the “good bacteria” (the beneficial flora in the gut). Subsequently, the yeast multiplies and cannot be kept in check. Repeated use of antibiotics, far too common in veterinary medicine today, only compounds the problem.
The other main culprit is poor diet. Since yeast feeds on sugars, a diet that includes grains, vegetables, or fruit (all of which convert to sugar in the digestive system) causes the yeast to multiply. The result is a host of symptoms, commonly known as a “yeast infection”, a “fungal infection” or “Candidiasis.” Over time, the yeast in the digestive tract can burrow through the intestinal walls and deplete the entire body. This is known as “Systemic Candida” or a “Systemic Yeast infection.” An associated and more pervasive condition, “Leaky Gut Syndrome”, outlined later in this article, may also occur.
HOW CAN I BE SURE THAT IT’S YEAST?
While you can often tell a yeast infection by its appearance and symptoms, there are also testing methods to confirm the diagnosis. Common symptoms are: rashes and itching, skin that is thickened/rough, oily/greasy, dry/flaky or blackened, and sometimes a distinct smell. Fatigue and joint pain/stiffness may also be present.
It is important to note that not all cases manifest with a smell or “yeasty odor”, and that pet owners and vets should not assume the problem is bacterial in the absence of that smell.
Regarding testing, your vet can examine a sample of cells under the microscope from the irritated areas. The sample can be easily obtained by pressing a microscope slide or clear piece of tape to the skin, scraping the skin gently with a blade, or rubbing a moistened Q-tip on the affected areas.
In regards to diagnosing Systemic Yeast or Leaky Gut Syndrome, in the realm of alternative medicine, there are blood, saliva, urine, and stool analyses used for humans. However, there is no information readily available regarding the availability of these tests for dogs.
The best course of action against yeast overgrowth is to enhance your dog’s level of nutrition, strengthen the immune system, cleanse toxins from the body, re-establish the good bacteria, and aid the body in flushing out toxins. If these steps are taken, your dog will have the best chance of staying healthy and resisting future yeast infections.
With that in mind, here is:
THE THREE-TIERED GUIDE TO NATURAL YEAST TREATMENT
TIER ONE: 5 Pillars of Good Canine Health
(the springboard for successful natural yeast treatment)
TIER TWO: 5 Yeast Treatment Strategies
TIER THREE: 5 Additional Considerations
TIER ONE: 5 PILLARS OF GOOD CANINE HEALTH
1)FEED THE RIGHT DIET- Kick kibble to the curb!
The proper species-appropriate diet is an essential first step to eradicating yeast, specifically a modified prey-model diet which includes a variety of raw meat, raw meaty bones, and organ meat. It is best to avoid the carbohydrates and sugars in grains, fruits, and veggies- including potatoes and rice- which are standard in kibble and canned dog foods, even high-end ones. These ingredients will feed yeast and encourage its overgrowth.
2)LOSE THE PRESCRIPTION AND OVER THE COUNTER MEDICATIONS*- Just say no!
Synthetic prescription medicines and over-the-counter drugs confuse the body and the immune system, suppressing your dog's natural healing abilities. Antibiotics and steroids are especially harmful in encouraging yeast infections. Heartworm and flea and tick medications contain damaging neuro-toxins and only serve to stress your dog’s immune system.
There are many alternatives in the realm of natural medicine including: Homeopathy, Australian Bush Flower Essences, herbs, natural supplements, Chiropractic, Osteopathy, Acupuncture, and Reiki and other forms of Energy Medicine. Resources for alternative approaches abound on the internet, including yahoo and MSN groups, whose members have been using these health strategies successfully for many years. Search, read, learn, and help your dog (and yourself) to a natural health approach.
*PLEASE NOTE: Stopping some prescription drugs abruptly can result in dangerous side-effects. Please consult with a holistic veterinarian regarding any precautions regarding discontinuing medications.
3) STOP UNNECESSARY VACCINATIONS- Vaccines are not your friend.
There are many individuals who believe that there is no such thing as a safe or necessary vaccination. In addition to containing a host of harmful chemicals including Formaldehyde (a known carcinogen), Ethylene glycol (or antifreeze), and Thimerosol (a mercury compound and known neuro-toxin), vaccines stimulate the immune system in an extreme and unnatural way causing myriad health problems. Thus it is essential to limit them to the absolute minimum.
Unfortunately, since rabies laws still exist in the U.S. (and some other countries), the rabies vaccine may be unavoidable, but it is within your rights to refuse ALL others. And even with the rabies shot, there are sometimes alternatives such as running a titre blood test, or being granted a waiver due to age or illness. Research your options and find a vet who respects your choices.
4) LIBERATE YOUR HOME FROM TOXIC CHEMICALS- There’s no place like (a natural) home…
Pesticides and other household chemicals are toxins and have no place in a healthy home. Theses chemicals (which include synthetic fragrances in cleaners, shampoos, laundry detergents, fabric softeners, dryer sheets, and room fresheners), are being proven to cause damage to the immune, reproductive, and central nervous systems in people and pets. Many of these dangerous chemicals have been linked to a variety of illnesses from learning disabilities to cancer. And needless to say, don’t smoke or allow anyone to smoke in your home or near your dog.
Clean your home using natural non-toxic products from your health food store, or just plain old vinegar, water, and baking soda. For clearing out bad smells, open a window and run a fan, or if you must fragrance your air, freshen it with natural products such as those containing (diluted) essential oils. Wash your dog’s bedding in all natural detergents and softeners. Use natural methods of flea, tick or bug control such as Diatomaceous Earth in your home or beneficial nematodes on your lawn. Filter your dog’s drinking water or use spring or well water. And feed your dog organic (or hormone and antibiotic-free) meat whenever possible.
5) REDUCE STRESS- It’s a sunny day…you’re laying on your back, getting a tummy rub in a grassy meadow….
Stress affects people and dogs in the same manner, altering the body's alkalinity and creating an internal environment that is more supportive to yeast, as well as to other opportunistic infections like parasites and viruses.
There are many things that can create stress for a dog including training, dog shows, seasons, whelping, lactation, weather extremes, boarding, veterinary visits, grooming, dog parks, thunderstorms, fireworks, and home construction projects. As well, it is important to remember that stress in your household can also affect your dog. Family arguments, travel, and major life changes such as divorce, loss of a job, or death of a family member create stress in you, which your dog can sense.
To help manage your dog’s stress levels: take daily walks, allow for plenty of fresh air, make sure they have a soft cozy bed, and of course, regularly express and show your love and affection. It is also helpful to reinforce good behavior, use positive training methods, and try to minimize placement in boarding kennels during vacations. Many pets get very stressed even in upscale “free-run” kennels and prefer in-home care. Additionally, preventive natural health care such as massage and chiropractic care, and acupuncture help in managing canine stress. Many people also use Bach Flower Essences, Australian Bush Flower Essences, Homeopathy, Herbs, or energy medicine to manage anxiety in their dogs.
For your stress, well, that’s a whole other article!...but as an overview, try to eat a balanced chemical-free diet, get sufficient sleep and exercise, avoid excesses of caffeine and alcohol, stay away from tobacco, and maintain a positive hopeful outlook. Specific techniques for your stress management may include journaling, meditation, breath work, relaxation techniques, or spiritual work. Counseling, self-help books, CDs or DVDs, and support groups are helpful for some. As well, the preventative natural health care strategies mentioned above work well for human stress too.
*ADDITIONAL NOTE: For some dogs, just following the above guidelines, especially the change to the raw meaty diet, will eliminate the yeast problem. But for many others, “The 5 Pillars” are just the start of the multi-pronged approach illustrated in the rest of this article.
TIER TWO: 5 YEAST TREATMENT STRATEGIES
*PREFACE NOTE 1: If Classical Homeopathy is being used, any or all of the following strategies may be considered “suppressive” and would not be recommended. Please consult with your Homeopath before starting any new supplement.
*PREFACE NOTE 2: In this author’s opinion, Kinesiology (or “Muscle Testing”) is the most accurate way to determine the need for and dosage of any supplement (which is also a whole other article!...) For those who are not adept at muscle-testing, and/or do not have access to a holistic vet to guide them, I have provided dosing recommendations for each supplement. Please note that these are only general guidelines and that your dog’s appropriate dosage will depend on many factors (including size/weight, medical, environmental, emotional, and genetic history, current physical nor emotional stressors, and degree of infection.) The key is to always start with small amounts and build up the dose slowly, and to not give too many things at once. And please always consult with your (preferably holistic) veterinarian if severe symptoms ever develop.
1) GIVE PROBIOTICS- Acidopholus is not a Greek last name!
Probiotic Supplements- Probiotics are the friendly bacteria that live in your intestines and help to keep yeast at low levels. Lactobacillus Acidophilus is the most well known type. When the probiotics in the gut are diminished and yeast has overgrown, it is essential to give your dog a good probiotic supplement in order to rebuild the “good bacteria”.
Some superior brands include: Garden of Life Soil-based Primal Defense, New Chapter Probiotic Immune Support, Nature’s Way Primadophilus and Nature’s Farmacy Dogzymes Probiotic 911. Whichever brand you choose, be sure to avoid those with FOS, as this ingredient will actually feed yeast growth. Please consult the directions on the bottle or contact the distributor or manufacturer for dosing recommendations. Always give probiotics on an empty stomach.
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV). Apple Cider Vinegar, the raw type with the cloudy quality, is another good source of probiotics. (Eden and Bragg are two good brands.) It can squirted directly in your dog’s mouth, or added to their drinking water. Many use a few drops a day in addition to probiotics, or as a preventative maintenance dose. If you prefer to use ACV as the primary treatment for yeast, the recommended doses are: for dogs 10 lbs or less- 1/4 teaspoon per day, for dogs 10 to 60 lbs- 1 teaspoon per day, and for dogs 60 lbs and above- 2 teaspoons per day.
Yogurt- Yogurt does contain probiotics but often the amount present is not enough to conquer a moderate or heavy yeast infection. Thus many people give a probiotic supplement sprinkled in yogurt, using the powder form or the powder inside the capsule form. If you do give yogurt, it is essential to use either an all natural Goat’s milk version or a natural plain version with no added sugars or artificial sweeteners, flavors, or colors. A tablespoon per day is a typical dose given. Others use a tablespoon a few times a week, or even daily, as preventative maintenance.
*SPECIAL NOTE: For a mild yeast infection or for a dog who tends to react strongly to natural supplements and/or synthetic medications, sometimes one (or a combination of the above) probiotic sources alone will balance the bacteria in the gut over time, and the yeast symptoms will disappear. But for many, probiotics are just one of the steps required as outlined in the rest of this article.
2) KILL THE YEAST - “Come on yeast, make my day…”
Simply put, the yeast has overgrown where it doesn’t belong and is causing your dog discomfort. It has to go. Following is a list of commonly used natural anti-fungal (or yeast killing) substances that are taken internally. Each may also be used topically on the skin or in the ears to kill the yeast and to provide symptom relief.
Colloidal Silver (or CS) is a liquid suspension of microscopic particles of silver. Microorganisms (e.g. bacteria, virus, fungus, and parasites) depend on a specific enzyme to breathe. Colloidal Silver disables these enzymes, and as a result the microorganisms die.
Some superior brands are Wolf Creek Ranch Electrically Isolated Silver (EIS) type Colloidal Silver and Medipatch Pure Colloidal Silver. Metabolics Ionic Silver is also an excellent product but must be purchased through a natural health practitioner. Whichever brand you choose, be sure that it is made with pure distilled water or ionized water and is no more than 15 ppm pure Colloidal Silver. And avoid any brands that are protein stabilized or use silver salts. Many people save money by making their own CS at home with a generator using pure silver and distilled water. One good source for generators is www.silverpuppy.com
Please consult the directions on the bottle for dosage and if the CS product is meant for humans, adjust the adult dose for the weight of your dog. Many start with just a few drops per day, and build up to 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon twice per day. CS may be directly applied to the skin or ears for topical use.
Grapefruit Seed Extract (or GSE) is a substance derived from the seeds, membranes, and the pulp of grapefruit, and is very effective at killing yeast, bacteria, parasites, and viruses. The simplest way to give GSE is using the liquid formula in water. Nutribiotics is one good brand. Whichever brand you choose, organic is preferred, and look for glycerin and GSE as the only ingredients. It cannot be used full strength and must always be diluted with water. Generally, 3 or 4 drops in water twice daily will suffice. Any more will likely make your dogs’ water too bitter to drink. Some add the drops to food instead. For topical use, again always dilute: use 1 drop in 5 ounces of water per 10 pounds of body weight.
Coconut Oil is a liquid extracted by pressing the “meat” of the coconut, which becomes a white semi-solid substance when refrigerated or at cooler temperatures. The medium chain fatty acids in Coconut Oil (including lauric acid and caprylic acid) are very effective at killing yeast, parasites, bacteria, and viruses. It has also been shown to help to heal the lining of the gut in the case of “Leaky Gut Syndrome.”
Garden of Life is one good brand. Whichever brand you choose, look for the virgin organic variety. Most dogs enjoy the taste and will just lick it off a spoon. It is best to start with a small amount, such as ¼ teaspoon per day, and build up to larger amounts, up to 1 tablespoon or more per day in divided doses. The side effects of too much coconut oil too soon can include diarrhea, fatigue, and muscle aches. If you see these signs, stop treatment for two days, and when you resume, decrease the dose. For topical use, just apply to affected areas but if your dog can reach it, he/she will likely lick it right off!
Oil of Oregano is an extract from the Oregano plant, part of the mint family. The substances thymol and carvacrol are believed to be the main sources of its benefits. In addition to acting as a potent anti-oxidant, it has also been proven to have significant anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-parasitic, and anti-viral activity.
Bio-Alternatives is one good brand. Whichever you choose, look for one that is organic, made from Wild Oil of Oregano, and already diluted in Olive Oil. Because of the potency of this substance, and the fact that most dogs do not like the taste, it is advised that you put the drops into a palatable substance like yogurt or raw honey, or into a gelatin capsule which is hidden in food. Start with 1 drop of oil per day and gradually build up to 1 drop, 4 times per day. For topical use, dilute the tincture (1 drop to 1 ounce olive oil) and apply.
Pau D’arco is an herb that comes from the inner bark of a South American tree. It has been used for centuries as a potent astringent, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal agent. The liquid formula generally works best. Alternative Health and Herbs Pau D’arco Tincture is one good brand. Whichever product you buy, be sure to look for an organic variety in an alcohol or glycerin base. Start with a small amount, even 1 drop per day, and gradually increase to up to 5 drops twice per day, added to food. For topical use, dilute the tincture (1 drop to 1 ounce water) and apply.
Aloe Vera comes from the Aloe Vera plant, a member of the lily family. In addition to its anti-fungal properties, it can improve bowel regularity and assist digestion and absorption of nutrients. As well, it is it a good source of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Most use it in juice form and add it to food. Dosage recommendations are 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of weight. (up to 2 to 4 oz a day for giant breeds). There are many brands readily available at any health food store. Look for organic and pure and if concentrated, always dilute before giving to your dog. For topical use, the gel squeezed from the aloe leaf, or a store bought pure organic version, is advised.
Olive leaf extract comes from the leaf of the olive tree and has been used since Egyptian times as a healing agent. It is a potent anti-fungal agent, as well as having antiviral, antibacterial, and antioxidant effects. The phenolic compound called Oleuropein in Olive Leaf is responsible for most of its therapeutic abilities.
Olivus is one good brand. It is commonly given in powder form or the powder within capsules sprinkled in food. The dosage recommendation is 1 teaspoon per 15 pounds of weight. For topical use, dilute the extract in water (1 drop to 1 ounce water) and apply to affected areas.
*SPECIAL NOTE 1: It is recommended that you try only one of these agents at a time, and to use it for 2 weeks before trying another, and before proceeding to the other steps.
*SPECIAL NOTE 2: Even if you see results, many people report that alternating the type of yeast killer over time, every 2 to 4 weeks, can be a beneficial strategy.
3) ADD DIGESTIVE ENZYMES- Good for the tummy!
Although a varied raw meat diet will provide the necessary enzymes to aid digestion, a digestive enzyme supplement can be a helpful addition while treating a yeast infection, especially in older dogs. These supplements are taken with food to improve the assimilation of nutrients. Look for an all natural product Prozyme, Animal Essentials, and B-naturals Bertes Zyme are good brands. Give these supplements as directed.
4) ADD VITAMINS, MINERALS, AND FISH OIL- Something sure smells fishy around here!
While a varied raw meat diet will also provide your dog with the appropriate vitamins and minerals, when a moderate to heavy yeast infection has compromised the immune system, additional support may be required. The optimal vitamin/mineral supplement should contain zinc. EarthOrigins and B-naturals Multi-Formula are both good brands. Earth Origins also contains Spirulina and Montmorillonite Clay, both which aid in chelating (or binding toxins) including mercury, and detoxing (or removing toxins) from the body. Give these supplements as directed.
Unless your dog’s diet includes a significant amount of fish, Fish Oil is also recommended, specifically a product containing Omega-3 essential fatty acids. Fish Oil has been shown to slow the growth of yeast on the skin and can help control your dog’s itchiness. However, it usually takes at least a month of use to see results.
Cod Liver Oil and Salmon Oil are popular choices but those marketed as “Fish Oils”, containing a blend of oils, are also effective. One good brand is Urban Carnivore’s Cold Water Fish Oil. Whichever you choose, look for one that is pure, includes Vitamin E, and is pesticide/PCB/Heavy Metal-free. It’s best to follow the directions on the bottle regarding the amount of one dose and then give that amount 3 times per week.
5) PROVIDE DETOX / DRAINAGE SUPPORT- ♫ “Yeah, I get by with a little help from my liver…” ♫
As you use the yeast treatment strategies, the dead yeast cells, toxins released by them, and other trapped toxins must travel through your dog’s bloodstream and out of the body. This process can put undue strain on the liver, kidneys, colon, and lymph, and some dogs will need additional support.
First and foremost, proper hydration is essential in helping flush toxins out of the body. Be sure to have plenty of fresh spring or filtered Water available for your dog. To encourage additional water drinking, try dripping some blood from the raw food in your dog’s water. Delish! (to a raw fed dog anyway!) Or you can feed a raw meal in a bowl with water added.
Secondly, there are many types of supplements that can help support the detox organs of the body, many of which concentrate on the liver. Below, I have listed several possibilities. Your research and personal recommendations will lead you to more. For sensitive/reactive dogs or those with a compromised immune system, any of these detox agents may be too strong and could overwhelm the system. As always, start with a small dose, proceed slowly and discontinue if you see a major worsening of symptoms or new worrisome symptoms.
Indivdual Herbs: Milk Thistle for liver support and Nettles or Uva Ursi for kidney support. (And Herbal combination capsules for liver or kidney support.)
Herbal combination tinctures: Animals’ Apawthecary Detox Blend and Ambertech’s Life Cell Support for overall drainage support.
Homeopathic combination remedies: a Chelodonian mix can be helpful. Consult with a homeopath for recommended products.
Combination supplements: Health Plus Liver Cleanse for liver support and Earth Origins for overall detox support.
*PLEASE NOTE: As mentioned previously, it is essential to not give every supplement at once to your dog, as it will be impossible to tell what is helping or hurting. Also within any given day, it is recommended to spread out the dosage of treatments. For example, you might give an anti-yeast substance with breakfast, probiotics several hours after breakfast, digestive enzymes with dinner, and a drainage/detox agent at bedtime. And finally, while you can give a vitamin/mineral supplement daily, it is best not to give all of the other supplements every day. Your dog’s system will benefit from a break every few days from each supplement, to allow it to process and clear out toxins.
TIER THREE: 5 ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS
1) TOPICAL RELIEF- The Itchies and Scratchys…
While none of the topical treatments listed below will cure a yeast infection, they are known for their soothing qualities and can provide some relief from the itchiness on skin and in ears, and can prevent self-mutilation.
Calendula Cream or Ointment- Apply directly to the skin.
Coconut Oil- Apply directly to the skin.
Aloe Vera Gel- Cut open an aloe plant leaf and apply the gel directly to skin. Or buy a prepared organic pure gel product without additives.
Tea tree hydrosol- The water produced during steam distillation of tea tree essential oil which can be applied directly to the skin.
Green Tea- Using 5 or 6 teabags, make a very strong batch of tea. Let cool and put in spray bottle. Spray on affected areas.
Vitamin E Oil- Use the oil form or the oil inside of capsules and apply directly to skin.
Specifically For Ears:
Blue Power Ear Treatment- You can make your own with the recipe at this link: www.itsfortheanimals.com/BLUE.HTM (though many suggest substituting Witch Hazel for the alcohol)
K9 Liquid Health Ear Solution- A natural ear remedy available at many on-line retailers.
Zymox*- A commercial ear remedy available at many on-line retailers. Be sure to purchase the one without hydrocortisone.
*PLEASE NOTE: This is not an all natural product but was used successfully for symptom relief by many natural rearing people, after all natural solutions had been exhausted.
2) DIE-OFF- It’s always darkest before the dawn.
During the course of natural yeast treatment, your dog may experience an increase in itchiness and inflammation, flu-like symptoms, nausea, fatigue, gas, or loose stools. This condition, known as “Die-Off”, “Herxheimer’s Effect”, or “A Healing Crisis”, occurs as the fungus starts to die off and as the body is detoxifying. In most cases, it is a sign that the system's pathways and organs of elimination are overburdened (and sometimes blocked) due to more toxins being released than the body can adequately handle.
Most dogs will experience die -off to some degree. The severity of symptoms depends upon the strength of the immune system and other organs, the degree of yeast infection, and the environmental and emotional stress present. Some dogs will have the greatest die-off reactions immediately after beginning treatment. For others, it will be 3 to 4 weeks before you see die-off symptoms. And still others, will have a day or two of die-off after adding any new yeast treatment supplement.
Die-off reactions generally last a day to one week. In dogs with severely challenged systems, it can take weeks and even months for the organs to catch up and purge the body of all of the released toxins.
Reducing the dosage of supplements will usually decrease the number of dead yeast cells and toxins that the body has to process, and reduce die-off symptoms. If this does not occur, it is generally advised to discontinue all supplements for a few days, start back at a reduced dose, and increase it slowly. Over time, assuming there are no underlying disorders, as the body becomes stronger, the die-off reactions should subside.
3) LENGTH OF TREATMENT- “How long ‘til we get there?!...”
Please be patient as this is a slow gradual process, and it may be 3 to 7 months before you see major changes in your dog. Most dogs, however, show some response to treatment within a month or two. The recovery time will be slightly longer (and could be up to a year or more) for those who have been treated with antibiotics, steroids, or multiple vaccinations. Additionally, some dogs with chronic yeast issues will require probiotics and a “yeast killer” a few times per week on an ongoing basis, to maintain a balanced yeast-free system.
Also please be aware that finding the right balance of supplements and dosing for your dog often involves trial and error. Thus, you can expect periods of improvement followed by stretches of backsliding. Do not be alarmed and do not discontinue natural treatment altogether. Decreasing the dosage, temporarily discontinuing a supplement, changing to a new supplement or healing modality, or taking a break from all supplements for a period of time are all potential solutions for this situation. It is all part of the delicate cycle of killing off yeast, clearing the by-products, and strengthening the body.
4) HEAVY METALS- Not the rock band kind!
If over time, your dog has persistent yeast problems despite following all of the steps in this article, there may be an underlying issue of heavy metal toxicity. Heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium, platinum, arsenic, copper, and lead are present in our drinking water, air, and soil, as well as in many consumer products including some pet toys. The main airborne source is coal burning power plants. Garbage incinerators and toxic dumps also contribute to the problem, as does cigarette smoke. In addition, the mercury from eating fish and in vaccines (as “thimerosol”) can collect in your dog’s cells.
Using mercury as an example: concentrated amounts of this toxic metal suppress the cells’ ability to utilize oxygen, which triggers yeast growth. The yeast cells then absorb the mercury, in an effort to protect the body from getting further poisoned. But at the point the yeast “eats” too much mercury, it excretes it - as methyl mercury- an extremely toxic substance. The methyl mercury is then rapidly absorbed through the intestines where the blood stream picks it up. It is then carried throughout the body, where it damages the immune system. Subsequently, your dog’s body can no longer fully fight yeast or other infections. Mercury also accumulates in the central nervous system, the endocrine system, and every major organ of the body.
If you suspect heavy metal toxicity, there are practitioners who will test a sample of your dog’s fur. One such example is www.holisticvetpetcare.net
The heavy metal load on the system must be reduced in order to free your dog of long-term yeast overgrowth. If the underlying toxicity is not addressed, die-off will often be extreme and very unpleasant for your dog, as his/her body is forced to flush out yeast and heavy metal toxins at the same time.
Liquid Zeolite, a very absorbent natural mineral, is one substance that effectively chelates (or removes) mercury and other heavy metals from the body. Other helpful supplements include: Cilantro, Chlorella, and Spirulina, as well as specialized Homeopathic and Herbal tinctures.
5) LEAKY GUT (but don’t call the plumber!)…. AND ENDOCRINE DISORDERS-
If you have practiced all of the natural methods of yeast control, including flushing out the heavy metals, and your dog still has persistent “itchies” or yeast problems, there may be an underlying health condition.
One such disorder is Leaky Gut Syndrome (this is also a whole other article!...) But briefly, Leaky Gut occurs when the intestinal walls become more porous or “leaky”, allowing toxins and large food molecules that are normally kept within the intestines, into the bloodstream. These molecules then circulate throughout the body, where they are seen as “intruders” by the immune system and attacked. Once these molecules are labeled as a threat, the immune system will try to fight and destroy them each time new similar substances are introduced to the body.
The result is a worn out and weakened immune system which leads to less resistance to viruses, bacteria, parasites and candida/yeast and thus, recurrent infections. As well, Leaky Gut is associated with a host of other symptoms and illnesses including: chronic allergies, acne, arthritis, bowel problems, and chemical sensitivities, as well as many auto-immune disorders.
The causes of Leaky Gut include: recurrent yeast infections, pharmaceutical medications (the worst offender is NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), over the counter medications (particularly antacids, aspirin and Ibuprofen), a diet high in refined carbohydrates, food additives, chemical pollutants in the environment and in household products, and chronic stress. As you likely notice, these are the very same causes of chronic yeast.
In order to treat Leaky Gut, it is essential to heal the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. The three natural supplements most frequently recommended for dogs are
L-Glutamine, Slippery Elm, and Seacure.
L-Glutamine is a potent amino acid that helps to stop inflammation of the intestines as it promotes new cell growth in the intestinal lining. It can be purchased in capsules or powder. Follow the directions for humans and adjust for the weight of your dog.
Slippery Elm- is an herb with powerful anti-oxidant action, that is soothing to the inflamed and damaged gut lining. It also provides mucilage (a gummy substance) which coats the intestinal lining, and protects it from further damage from toxins or infectious microorganisms. The recommended human dose can be adjusted for the weight of your dog.
Seacure- (by Proper Nutrition, Inc) is an easily absorbed protein concentrate derived from deep-ocean white fish. The peptides (or building blocks of proteins) in this product help support the cells in the gastrointestinal tract, and stimulate the tissue of the gut wall to regenerate. It is available in capsules and the human dosage can be adjusted according to the weight of your dog.
There are additional herbs, nutrients, amino acids, and combination supplements used for healing Leaky Gut in humans. There are many resources on the internet regarding these treatments, but please consult with a holistic vet before giving them to your dog.
Another possibility in the case of chronic intractable yeast problems is an underlying Endocrine Disorder. The endocrine system is made up of the body’s hormone-secreting glands, which include the thyroid, the adrenals, and the pituitary glands.
Multiple vaccines (especially at an early age) and over-usage of pharmaceutical drugs (especially steroids) can damage these glands, rendering them unable to produce certain hormones that regulate body functions. (This also is also a whole other article….) Briefly, a knowledgeable holistic vet and specialized blood tests beyond the standard thyroid panels (ie. Endocrine Immune Deficiency Tests) are essential in getting the proper diagnosis and treatment. Alfred J. Plechner, DVM has developed a unique protocol to address these issues in conjunction with your vet. For more information, please see www.drplechner.com Treatment will likely involve ongoing supplementation (either natural or synthetic) to replace the hormones that the damaged glands can no longer produce.
THE FINAL WORD
In summary, yeast overgrowth is a very common malady in dogs, yet can be very complicated to treat. But when addressed with patience and perseverance, and with the help of the natural interventions outlined in the “Three-Tiered Guide”, it can be conquered. And along the way, you’ll be learning, getting more attuned to your dog, and making a major contribution to your beloved canine’s overall good health and longevity, and maybe yours too! So take it slow, keep the faith, and good luck!
Need more info or some advice regarding treating yeast in your dog, email Kathleen at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, if you would like to learn how to Naturally Rear your dog join our yahoo group at,