Systemic Yeast In Dogs

Yeast problems have been discussed on my Yahoogroups list, K9Kitchen, many times. New members worry about carbohydrates and “sweet” vegetables feeding yeast.

Before deciding that your dog has a yeast problem, it's probably best to visit your veterinarian. Get a culture and sensitivity done and see what comes back. At one point, a vet was sure that Zoey had only yeast in one ear. The culture showed yeast and bacteria at the time. Yeast is a secondary problem. Had we addressed the yeast only, heaven knows how much the bacteria would have proliferated and in what shape Zoey would have been in. We treated the bacteria and the yeast calmed down by itself.

In dogs, the most common form of yeast is called Malassezia. This is not systemic. The skin is one organ. Regardless of whether we see yeast in the ear or on the belly, we're looking at skin. A systemic problem involves the "system" i.e. many organs within the body. Since yeast is a normal resident of the skin, we can only see an overgrowth. The cause of this overgrowth is an underlying problem and the cure is to find it and deal with it. The overgrowth can be caused by any number of problems including disease factors and food allergies. For our purposes, food allergies are the focus.

A dog that is allergic to oats and has a yeast overgrowth is likely to have the yeast calm down when oats are removed from the diet. However, a dog allergic to beef and dealing with a yeast overgrowth will have the same positive reaction when beef is omitted from the diet. In other words, there is no direct connection between carbohydrates and yeast problems. Instead, the link is that we have discovered the problematic food and eliminated it.

One of the reasons that some people claim a direct link between carbohydrates and yeast is that the body converts carbohydrates to glucose. Like other organisms, yeast feeds on simple glucose, but keep in mind that the brain has an absolute requirement for glucose. It stands to reason that no matter what is fed or not fed, the body has mechanisms in place to support brain function. Even if we were to eliminate all carbohydrates from the diet, the body converts protein into glucose in order to support the brain and life itself. Feeding more or fewer carbohydrates does not impact yeast overgrowth unless the dog is allergic to a certain carbohydrate. The allergy is the underlying cause of the yeast problem – not the carbohydrate itself. In this case, a particular carbohydrate is no more the cause of a yeast problem to a dog that tolerates it than lamb would be the cause of a yeast problem to a dog tolerant of lamb.

Internet rumors blame systemic yeast and Candida in particular for everything from diarrhea to cancer, but systemic yeast in dogs is so rare that it makes medical reports in journals! In cases of systemic yeast, the dog is so sick that we're not talking about an inflamed ear or an itchy paw. Here is one example of how serious systemic yeast in dogs really is, and why your itchy or food-sensitive dog isn’t very likely to be in this category.

A report of one of the rare cases where Candida was a problem:

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