Malassezia in dogs is very common and generally does not cause a lot of problems, unless it grows and reproduces.
However, if it becomes severe, it can grow to such abnormal numbers that it will become extremely foul in odor and well as causing intense itching in your dog.
Most dogs will develop it at some point in their lifetime and some dogs will repeatedly be affected by it.
It affects every breed without exception, but there are some breeds that seem to be much more prone than others.
It is perhaps best known by another name; Yeast infections.
Malassezia in dogs can be found anywhere on your dog’s body, and if this does happen, it is very dangerous.
In the vast majority of cases, it is found in three places in your dog; their ear canals, their anal sacs or vagina, as well as their rectum.
The most common cause of Malassezia or yeast infection is an underlying infectious disease that has weakened your dog’s immune system in their skin.
Once this part of their immune system has weakened, the Malassezia will begin to grow beyond its normal state.
It is present in all dogs throughout their lifetime, but if your dog’s immune system is at full strength, it controls it very easily.
There are also some cases where it may be hereditary.
Bacterial infections, skin allergies, or seborrhea can cause irritations in your dog’s skin which in turn activates this condition.
There are some breeds that will genetically have a weakened immune system that weakens some of their cells.
There is a cell that is referred to as T-lymphocyte that is part of your dog’s immune system that controls the Malassezia and these breeds genetically will have problems with this cell.
Malassezia in dogs can and does occur in all breeds, simply because it is almost always present.
However, there are some breeds that genetically have trouble controlling it naturally because of the weakness of this cell.
The breeds with this genetic flaw include the Silky, Maltese, Australian, and West Highland White Terrier breeds.
German Shepherds, Shetland Sheepdogs, Poodles, and Chihuahuas are also breeds that are more commonly affected.
Malassezia in dogs, because of its nature, is by far and away more common when the humidity is at its highest levels.
Summer peak times are when most of the symptoms will occur, as well as the fall.
However, if you live in a part of the world where humidity is an issue several months of the year, the yeast infections will occur more often.
The first signs that you will see in your dog is itchy skin, as this is present in almost every case.
All dogs will itch themselves, especially when they lay down, as this is their natural reaction to this ever present but controlled condition.
It is when the itching becomes more than normal that will catch your attention.
This is always a danger to your dog as they will now not only gently scratch their skin, they will begin scratching it much longer and with more intensity.
This in turn causes the skin to be traumatized and then damaged.
As the disease starts to localize, it may go beyond the three major points and include their entire ear, their muzzle, as well as their toes.
However, if it becomes severe enough and is rapidly producing, it can very easily affect their entire body and the itching will become even more dangerous.
If your dog’s muzzle is severely infected, they may not only severely scratch themselves, they will also rub their muzzle on the floor or ground so hard that it can cause bleeding to occur.
If the infection is intense in their toe areas, they will lick their feet continually, which will very quickly lead to hair loss and the chance of other infections occurring.
However, this is just the beginning, especially if the disease becomes generalized.
If it becomes generalized, your dog will start to show the next set of symptoms; a very offensive odor.
They will smell almost greasy as their skin is now becoming very oily as well as scaly.
This is where perhaps this yeast infections best known symptoms start to occur; in their ears.
There are several ear problems that are associated with Malassezia in dogs, as the yeast will naturally start to grow in this most desirable environment.
Allergies or any type of a bacterial infection will intensify Malassezia in Dogs, and your dog will begin to scratch at their ears as well as shake their head.
This head shaking can become quite severe as the itching is basically driving your dog nuts as it is extremely irritating.
There are several very effective treatments for Malassezia in dogs, but all of them should be either administered by your veterinarian or at least supervised by them.
The reason for this is very simple; this condition is always present in your dog and it needs a long term solution, not a short term one.
The underlying cause must also be treated and this includes allergies, bacterial infections, or seborrhea.
Your veterinarian will want to make the environment for the Malassezia as unfriendly as they can find. This will include removing the lipids of your dog’s skin with various shampoos.
Chlorhexidine shampoos of at least one percent or stronger in strength are extremely effective; as well as shampoos that contain benzoyl peroxide and sulfur.
There are human shampoos on the market that are quite effective such as Selsun Blue, but they can be very irritating to some dogs.
For this reason, never use them without first consulting your professional.
There are also several topical treatments that are quite effective for the most severe of cases, as well as anti-fungal drugs.
Ear infections are even more difficult to treat, and will require you to treat them at least twice a day using acetic or boric acid.
Both will help to maintain a pH level in your dog’s ears that naturally inhibit the growth of yeast.
However, it is worth repeating again; treatment must be focused on the long term, not the short term, as this the potential for this disease is present every day in every dog.
Because of this, even the ear treatments should initially be supervised by your veterinarian.
Although Malassezia in dogs is an ever present threat, it can successfully be treated.
The key is to catch it early so the itching does not become intense where your dog will than cause even further damage.
It may be very tempting to treat this yourself and it may be successful in the short term, but it is very unlikely it will have long term success.
Once it does surface, take your dog to your veterinarian and let them help you with this process.