Paw yeast infections are one of the more common ailments of dogs. And although they aren’t life-threatening or likely to ruin your dog’s quality of life, they can be quite irritating for your pooch.
Accordingly, you’ll want to treat them promptly and help your dog to clear the infection as soon as possible.
What Is a Yeast Infection?
Yeasts are microscopic fungal organisms that live everywhere. There are about 800 identified species hanging out on planet earth (and likely many that remain undescribed as of yet), and they play a variety of roles in different ecosystems.
Some are important for making delicious treats like bread and beer, while others are pathogenic and cause medical problems. Others simply hang out and do yeasty things, without really being beneficial or problematic. There are undoubtedly countless yeast organisms on you, your dog, and everything you own at this very minute.
Most of these yeasts are of no concern, and they form a normal part of the microscopic world surrounding us at all times. But problems can occur when one of two things happen:
1) Your dog (or you, for that matter) comes into contact with a pathogenic yeast species.
2) The bacteria living on your dog’s body (or yours) begin experiencing problems, which allows normally benign yeasts to experience a population explosion.
It is the second occurrence that is likely the most common, and fortunately, it is often the easier of the two to treat.
What Are the Symptoms of a Dog Yeast Infection?
Your dog can display a number of different symptoms that indicate the presence of a yeast infection. Some of the most common include:
- Inflamed, swollen or red nail beds
- Musty odor coming from the paws
- Thickened skin
- Greasy skin
- Flaky, crusty skin on the paws
- Discharge from the skin or nail beds
- Swelling of the afflicted area
- Excessive chewing and licking of paws
Itchiness is typically the first thing owners notice, so if you see your dog constantly licking and chewing his feet, take a closer look (and be sure to give them a sniff – many owners report their dog’s paws smelling like corn chips, earning the title “Frito Feet”).
Keep in mind that the symptoms of a yeast infection vary depending upon the area in which the infection takes hold. We’re primarily focusing on yeast infections of the paws today, but dogs suffering from yeast infections in other parts of the body exhibit different symptoms.
For example, dogs who experience yeast infections of the urinary tract don’t get itchy paws. Instead, they feel the need to urinate more frequently.
Dogs who have yeast infections of the ears may flap them back and forth repeatedly. A distinctive musty odor (sometimes likened to cheese) is also commonly associated with yeast infections of the ears.
Are Any Dogs at Higher Risk of Yeast Infections than Others Are?
Some breeds (and combinations thereof) are more susceptible to yeast infections than others are. Some of the most susceptible breeds include:
- Shih Tzu
- Cocker Spaniel
- Basset hound
- West Highland white terrier
- German shepherd
Additionally, some medical conditions, including hormonal imbalances and allergies, can also increase your dog’s risk for suffering from a yeast infection.
Some dogs can even end up suffering from recurrent yeast infections due to some larger imbalance. In these cases, it will be necessary to treat the underlying condition to get the yeast problems under control.
So, What Do I Do When My Dog Has a Yeast Infection on His Paws?
First thing’s first: Always reach out to your vet anytime your dog is experiencing a health problem, particularly if it is a new issue which has never occurred before.
However, if your dog has suffered from yeast infections in the past, and you’ve already discussed the issue with your vet, you may be able to treat recurrences yourself.
Yeast infections are pretty common and easy for vets to diagnose; many feel comfortable doing so based on the combination of a detailed history, visual inspection, and the presence of the characteristic cheesy odor that accompanies yeast infections.
However, some vets may desire a bit more confirmation than this. There are a number of diagnostic techniques vets can do to verify the presence of yeast, but one of the simplest (and most common) is to collect superficial skin scrapings or take tape impressions from the afflicted area. These can then be inspected under a microscope, thereby producing a definitive diagnosis.
Once your vet is convinced that a yeast infection is the root of the problem, he or she will move on to effective treatment strategies. Typically, antifungal shampoos are the treatment of choice.
Yeast infections can also occur alongside bacterial infections, which will necessitate the use of shampoos that can not only take care of the yeast, but any harmful bacteria present as well. Also, because flea bite allergies are sometimes associated with yeast infections, your vet will likely ensure that you are providing your pet with a good preventative flea medication.
Home Treatments for Yeast Infections
In addition to veterinary assistance, there are a few things you can do to help prevent yeast infections from recurring in the future. You may even be able to help your dog get over very mild yeast infections at home.
Some of the best ways you can help include:
Keeping Your Dog’s Paws Clean and Dry
Your dog’s paws come into contact with some grade-A filth on a daily basis, and this undoubtedly includes plenty of yeasts. So, you may want to wash your dog’s paws off after returning from walks – particularly if your pooch has been running, jumping and playing in especially dirty places. Alternatively, it may be wise to fit him with some doggie booties to keep his feet clean.
If you are going to wash your dog’s paws, you must be sure to dry them thoroughly when you are finished, as damp conditions encourage the growth of yeast. Make sure you get between his toes when doing so, as well as all of the other cracks and crevices of his pad pads.
Remember that your dog’s sweat glands are primarily located in his paws, so it is wise to wipe down his feet after long walks or vigorous exercise.
Examine Your Dog’s Diet
Some foods are thought to increase your dog’s chances of suffering from a yeast infection. Typically, simple carbohydrates are to blame, so you may want to consider switching foods to combat yeast problems (with your vet’s guidance and consent).
It is also a good idea to cut back on the people food and any other unhealthy treats (especially those that are loaded with refined carbs, corn syrup, or similar ingredients) until you get the problem under control.
Bathe Your Dog’s Feet in a Weak Apple-Cider Vinegar Solution
The normal and beneficial bacteria that normally live on your dog’s skin thrive in a slightly acidic environment, while yeasts usually prefer a slightly alkaline environment instead. So, by bathing your dog’s paws in a weakly acidic solution, you may be able to help restore the conditions that will favor the bacteria and disfavor the yeasts.
Most advocates of these treatments use a 50:50 combination apple-cider vinegar and water. Just be careful to avoid applying it to any area with broken skin (ouch) and dry your pup’s paws thoroughly when you are finished.
Note that this treatment approach is only likely to be helpful with extremely mild cases of yeast infections, and it may actually exacerbate misidentified problems, such as bacterial infections. So, once again, it is always wise to touch base with your vet first.
Does your dog battle with yeast infections? Have you determined the reason he is susceptible to them? What types of things have you done to help alleviate the problem? Let us know about your experiences in the comments below.
May 30, 2021
Our double doodle pup is one year old and she chews her one paw a lot. There’s a spot deep in the webbing that looks like little dark specks like coffee grounds. That’s all i can see. Ofcourse it’s swollen on the actual one toe where she must be chewing. She itches a lot too just everywhere. At first we thought it was chicken allergy but after changing her food the itching seem to have went away then came back. We found a 1 inch spot of eczema on her back near her tail. It just went away after a couple of weeks on its own.
June 1, 2021
It’d probably be a good idea to discuss this issue with your vet. It sounds like your pupper could be dealing with any number of issues, ranging from food allergies to yeast infections.
The first step in solving the problem is making sure you’ve properly identified it.
Best of luck!
April 21, 2021
My 5 year old German Shepherd has the the same problem with his paws. I am currently soaking his feet for 5 minutes each with warm weater with 3 teaspoons of epsom salt, 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. I let his paws air dried for 3 hours before applying an antibiotic ointment. It looks like it is working well. No foul odor on his paws and he no longer leaks his feet.
July 17, 2020
My 8 year old female boxer has started getting very itchy paws. She started licking, chewing and gnawing more and more. She also scratches her ears and her bum once or twice a day, but the feet are itchy all the time. Took her to the vet, she did have some build up in her right anal gland. 2 days later had to take her back to the vet because that didn’t help at all. Rechecked her anal glands and they were empty. Vet prescribed Apoquel and assured me it was safe for her to take. I got 1 month worth and yeah, it worked like a charm. But then I researched it and it’s actually potentially very dangerous, so I stopped giving it to her. Apoquel eliminates your pets itching by supressing their immune system! NOT GOOD! I have an appointment next week with a different vet for a second opinion. Maybe this is a yeast infection…we will see. If you at least want some temporary natural relief for your pets itchy feet/ears/bum, I highly recommend Nature’s Aid – True Natural Soothing Gel for Pets. It comes in 3 different sizes. It is available for purchase in pet stores, direct from their website, Amazon, etc. Here is a link to their website:
I apply this gel every 8 hours and it works quite well to sooth her itchy feet/ears/bum. I cover her feet with my own cotton (for breathability!) ankle socks and secure the socks around her “wrists” gently with velcro strips. I put clean socks on her every morning. This is working very well until we can find the cause and cure of her itching.
Good luck to all you other pet parents out there!
July 20, 2020
Sorry about your pup’s itchy paws!
We’d encourage you to discuss your misgivings about Apoquel with your vet (we’ve covered the medication here), as it appears very effective in many cases. It does reduce immune response, but that’s part of the reason it works (that’s what most steroids do). Many owners have even used language like “miracle drug,” when discussing it.
And while “natural” and non-traditional products can be effective alternatives to traditional medicines in some cases, owners must be aware that “natural” does not necessarily mean safe. For example, the product you reference contains Aloe vera, which can cause pretty serious intestinal upset (and, in rare cases, depression, anorexia, or tremors).
Now, aloe isn’t exactly chocolate or xylitol, and it is included in some shampoos designed for dogs. But because pups with itchy feet often lick their paws, this creates an obvious issue in this case.
Best of luck with your pooch!
December 17, 2019
My 9 yr old female Lab has reoccurring yeast infections in laws. I’m constantly at the vet. Do you have any recommendations other than antibiotics?… thank you for any information you can share.
May 20, 2019
Hey, Benay. Glad you found something that worked for your pup!
I just wanted to mention to our readers that you should speak to your vet before following the treatment described.
But thanks for sharing!
May 18, 2019
My dog seems to get yeast on his paws every year starting at Spring time from liking . This year we started him out taking prednisone so the paw would have time to heal a little before spraying his paws with a solution of bleach and water that was recommended by the vet. I put half a tablespoon bleach and a cup of cold water in a spray bottle and spray tops and bottoms and in between 2 times a week for 4-6weeks. Make sure to use Clorox regular bleach. If you have any questions about this call 1 -877 -804-8366 or http://www.dermatologyforanimals.com
July 22, 2019
Thank you I’ll try your method. Especially the Clorox part. I have a Yorkie that is always chewing on her paws or some parts of her body. I am now giving her vegetarian holistic food and no chicken. And started cooking her food. Thanks again
January 4, 2019
I have a 9 year old westie and she suffered for 8 years, taking every medicine in the book, atopica, apoquel, prednisone, and more, until we discovered (thankfully) that she is allergic to all animal proteins. She now eats a vegetarian diet (home-cooked or Purina HA) and all of her hair has regrown and she takes no medicine at all. She is a westie after all, so she does occasionally get some yeast but we treat with shampoos as Rosa said above. I urge anyone with a dog who doesn’t respond well after a while to the meds, to try a vegetarian diet.
November 29, 2018
Made mistake of reintroducing my dog back to foods we know caused allergies big mistake
November 21, 2018
Our female corgi has been diagnosed with a yeast infection on three spots on three paws. She is being treated by an Animal dermatologist with different meds. She isn’t exhibiting typical symptoms except for red spots on 3 paws which are irritated. She doesn’t lick or scratch them. She takes walks on the beach 3 x a week. This yeast infection and the spots are fairly recent.
September 18, 2018
Meg Marrs you come across very harsh ,no need for the attitude obviously we all read the “article” we all have the same problem with our dogs nothing wrong with asking if somebody out there has a suggestion on how to help other then take your dog to the vet.
September 18, 2018
I know that “seek veterinary attention” is an extremely unsatisfying answer, especially when you’re looking down at your suffering pooch.
It’s not always easy to get your dog over to the vet, and even a simple office visit can be brutal on one’s budget.
But there just aren’t very many effective home remedies for yeast infections. You can try the three things I mention above, but once you determine that the home remedies aren’t helpful, it is time to seek veterinary assistance.
Ultimately, we’re all responsible for keeping our pets healthy and happy, and sometimes, veterinary attention is simply the necessary.
Thanks for reading. 🙂 Best of luck with your pup.
September 16, 2018
Hi Everyone, I had the same problem you are all having and I do still continue to get it in my Labradors paws every now and again. I now use a combination of faith and Augustine’s boost mixed with coconut oil in my dogs food he is on a raw food diet and we have not had a bad reoccurrence in 18 months. I am sure you have something similar where you live.
August 25, 2018
Excellent information. Thanku
July 12, 2018
Prednisone and Apoquel are quick fixes, but the problem will return with a vengeance when the drugs wear off.
There are alternative holistic treatments that may take longer in some cases, but are safer. If Cheri is feeding raw, I bet she is more interested in natural solutions. I am in the same situation right now and I feel your pain Cheri.
August 3, 2018
I have a dog who has same problem. I have her on more drugs than anyone should take and the second we are done with the pills boo. It back worse than before. The vet has no clue what to do either
May 25, 2018
My dog has yeast so bad on his feet and also now his little body. I have the cone of shame on his almost all the time so he won’t lick his paws. I’ve changed his diet to raw and taken him off everything. I am at wits end! Help if you can?
May 26, 2018
Hi Cheri – sorry, can’t help much other than to tell you to take your pooch to the vet and get the medication needed to cure that yeast infection!
August 14, 2018
Hi Cheri I have the same problem with my dog he licks his paws till they are raw I took him to the vet he was prescribed apequal and this shampoo Malaseb it helps I put the shampoo on his paws and work it in between the pads leave it on for 5 minutes and rinse well I do this every other day for a week and bathe his body with the shampoo once a week once the week is up I keep up with it I wash paws and body once a week it helps I hope this is of help to you
June 19, 2019
I feel your pain. My pom has a very bad yeast infection and lost 2 toe nails and may have to have her toe amputated. She has been seen by the vet several times and she has a cone and we soak her feet in bleach and water and put cream on toes. Nothing seems to be helping. Don’t know what to do either….
July 1, 2019
I thought we shouldn’t use bleach as that will kill the good bacteria as well.
October 30, 2019
I found that putting my dog on a probiotic as well as fish oil cleared up her yeast problems completely. We use Pet Ultimates Probiotics for Dogs and Welactin fish oil (both on Amazon). I highly highly recommend. They both may take at least a month to get going in their systems, but I’ve had friends who were able to ween their dogs off of all their prescriptions for itchy skin. Definitely worth a try.
December 14, 2019
Hi. It might be an environmental allergy! Good luck.