by Audrey Harvey
Dogs with a normal healthy skin and coat don't smell offensive, and they don't itch. If your dog smells awful, has a greasy coat and is constantly scratching, it means there is something very wrong.
In many cases, the problem is a fungus called Malassezia. This little yeast organism is responsible for skin infections that are especially itchy, smelly and greasy to the touch.
Diagnosis and Treatment
It's not hard to diagnose Malassezia infection on your dog's skin. Your veterinarian will apply some sticky tape to his skin, and gently peel it off, picking up some yeast organisms in the process. He will be able to identify the organisms under the microscope.
There are several options for treatment, depending on the severity of the infection. If it is only a small problem, you may be able to control it by regularly bathing your dog in an anti-fungal shampoo and applying an anti-fungal ointment. More severe cases need to be treated with anti-fungal tablets.
Where does Malassezia Come From?
Small numbers of Malassezia live on the skin of all dogs, and neither you or your dog notice any effects. Before they can cause skin problems, there needs to be a change to the surface of the skin that allows them to grow and multiply. Large quantities of yeast on the skin result in the familiar musty odor and itch.
Malassezia seems to enjoy oily skin, and any condition that increases oil production will also increase the numbers of yeast on the skin. The most common condition is an allergic reaction, however dogs with seborrhea will also have increased oil production, and a secondary Malassezia infection.
There are some less common predisposing causes. Some dogs have a deficiency in their immune system, which allows Malassezia to multiply, and others are allergic to the yeast. If this is the case you should start your dog on immune boosting supplements.
Dogs with hormonal conditions such as hypothyroidism are also predisposed to Malassezia overgrowth.The end result is the same - lots of yeast, itchy skin, dreadful odor and a greasy coat.
Fortunately, Malassezia infections aren't contagious, but it can take a bit of work to clear them up.
Prevention is Best
Because Malassezia infection is secondary to some underlying skin problem, the only way to stop it recurring is to identify and control that underlying cause. Your veterinarian can help you with this, and your dog may need blood tests and allergy tests to get to the bottom of it.
- In the meantime, the oatmeal in this colloidal oatmeal shampoo for dry & itchy skin will soothe your dog's skin inflammation, and ease his itch. Because it rinses clean, it won't leave any residue on his skin, and it will leave him smelling minty fresh.
- If you notice any areas where your dog is particularly itchy, tackle them with an anti itch spray for dogs. This all natural spray will quickly ease his itch and stop him scratching.
- You can also try fish oil. Just put it over your dog's food, and the omega rich oil will support healthy skin and also general well being.
- Give treats with benefits. If you normally treat your dog anyway, why not give a treat that includes ingredients that support healthy skin and coat? The ones from The Dog Bakery have coconut oil and pumpkin and dogs absolutely LOVE them.
It can be hard work, but if you control your dog's underlying skin condition, and care for his skin and coat the Malassezia won't have the opportunity to multiply. This means no yeast infection, no itchy skin and no smelly dog. It's worth the effort.