Skin Disease in Dogs: What to do When Yeast Attacks

by | Apr 15, 2021 | Allergies, Health Conditions

Skin disease in dogs is one of the most confusing, frustrating conditions… that itchy grey area between yeast, leaky gut and allergies! It’s not black and white, and it’s one of the main reasons skin disease is the number one cause of euthanasia in dogs today. That’s a heartbreaking statistic, but so very real. 

Knowing this, you can probably understand why I’m so dedicated to finding a way to deal with the chronic, uncomfortable, drug-laden, crappy quality of life so many dogs suffer with. I am a bit obsessed with it. Since the creation of my Leaky Gut Protocol, we’ve seen hundreds of dogs suffering from what had been diagnosed as “allergies,” “skin disease,” “yeast” or “leaky gut” find relief… but there were also a few who seemed to have gotten worse on the program. In my Veterinary clinic I stayed really close to clients using the protocol and I can tell you that this almost drove me insane. 

When I look at these dogs and their skin symptoms and see what drugs, foods, and vaccines they’ve been given, it’s almost impossible to see why so many get better while others look about the same – or even get worse for a short period of time. Well, now I know – and it’s called the Herxheimer Reaction or candida (yeast) “die- off.”

I’m sure almost all these dogs have leaky gut, so why did some get worse?

Yeast: The Candida Effect

Candida outbreaks can appear anywhere on your dog’s body and can often be the root cause of things like:

  • recurring ear infections
  • inflammation of the eyes with chronic tearing
  • hot spots
  • urinary tract infection
  • constant itching
  • impacted anal glands 
  • joint pain

Because some of these symptoms can look like basic infections, conventional veterinarians are often at a loss and may prescribe antibiotics, which in most cases make the candida 100 times worse.

These symptoms can be so confusing which means they are often misdiagnosed as allergies and again recommend treatments that can be really counterproductive. It’s often not until your dog’s skin turns black or the notorious yeasty smell develops that candida is diagnosed.

Yeast is not our friend. Thriving candida (yeast) are full of toxins, but what is really interesting (and what many people do not know) is that as yeast die they release exponentially more. Approximately 79 known toxins flood into the body with this die-off, so not only is it itchy, it’s really systemically toxic.

The Adored Beast Leaky Gut Protocol has very potent pre- and probiotics, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Dogs who are taking it burst into healing mode – and that’s great, but it’s also what makes some of them feel worse initially. All those amazing immune-building, gut-healing ingredients are amping up your dog’s body to kill, eradicate and destroy the yeast. This is absolutely what we want to do! The problem is, when we’re killing yeast too quickly, there are some dogs that can experience side effects.

For dogs with a major yeast infestation, all of that dead yeast has an impact. The toxins from the dead candida become too much for the body to handle all at once. The cells of this shocking enemy create toxic chemicals that kill beneficial bacteria, bacteria that are paramount to the health of the immune system. Not only that, its waste produces toxic alcohols, acetone and hydrogen sulphide, which are known to be nerve poisons. And if that’s not bad enough, these single-cell organisms can change form into a multi-celled or mycelial fungal that have pileous (hairy) root-like projections. These penetrate the intestine causing gut trauma or leaky gut syndrome, decreasing the body’s ability to absorb vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids. This leads to nutritional deficiencies, autoimmune disease, malabsorption, allergies, cancer, arthritis and more. 

See, yeast is definitely not our friend!

Short Term Gain for Long Term Pain?

As you can see, figuring out whether your dog has allergies, yeast or leaky gut is a difficult puzzle to solve. That’s why so many people get confused or frustrated with a skin disease diagnosis. The line is so fine between them and they often all go hand in hand. 

It’s a common occurrence. A dog starts to itch or gets an ear infection. You head to your veterinarian, get drugs, change diets, treat the itch, everything he has in his tool box to try and help. It goes away for a while, but then it comes back, sometimes with a vengeance. More drugs are layered on top of each other, diet after diet is tried, and allergy test after allergy test is done… but the fact is your dog is still itchy and miserable.

So, your dog might find temporary relief and need to have some reprieve by using  conventional drugs: antibiotics, steroids, anti-fungals, anti-yeasts, anti-inflammatories and antihistamines. But this relief can come with the potential for serious side effects. The drugs can suppress the underlying deeper disease so that once they’ve run their course, the surviving cells multiply, repopulate and all the symptoms return. Or, if there is a chronic issue like leaky gut or allergies, we see an intense rebound effect.

When this happens, it’s often much worse because, instead of eradicating the underlying condition, it’s been driven to a deeper level. I often explained to my clients that giving a steroid or anti-fungal is like putting duct tape on a leaky pipe: the water stops dripping but under that tape the hole is still getting bigger and bigger and when the tape comes off (when the drugs stop) the water (the disease) explodes with a vengeance! So where do we go from here?

When we really start to focus on finding out what your dog has, the vicious cycle has already started, making it harder to treat. 

Getting off the Merry-Go-Round

1. Diet

The first step is reducing the yeast population with diet. Candida and yeast survive on sugar, so a diet high in protein and fat (be sure you work with a veterinary nutritionist if your dog has any pancreas or liver or kidney issues!) and very low in carbohydrates (meaning zero grains and mostly green vegetables) will start to starve the cells.

2. Anti-fungal Remedies

Next, we want to use natural methods to avoid that mutation of the candida and yeast we talked about earlier. When drugs are used on yeast they can outsmart science, mutate and become drug resistant, as we are seeing now with so many antibiotic resistant bacteria.

There are many natural anti-fungals available out there, but be cautious. Just because they’re natural doesn’t mean you can’t overdose. Some dogs can have toxic reactions, even to something that’s very safe for humans. You can do too much too fast and create the intense die-off I mentioned.

My two favorite anti-fungals are caprylic acid and pau d’arco. But always check with your veterinarian before starting any new herb or supplement. 

  • Caprylic acid comes from coconut oil. It’s used specifically to kill yeast. Give caprylic acid once per day according to your dog’s size: 
    • 25 mg toy
    • 50mg small
    • 100mg medium
    • 150mg large
  • Pau d’arco is a tree native to the Amazon and it works the best of any antifungal herb I’ve seen. Give pau d’arco as a dried herb, 12 mg per lb body weight, three times a day.

3. Pre- And Probiotics

The third step is to introduce pre- and probiotics. Probiotics are live bacteria that help keep your gut healthy. We often call them “good” or “helpful” bacteria because they do so much for overall health. Prebiotics feed probiotics. 

Pre- and probiotics are paramount in maintaining your dog’s defense against harmful yeast, but timing is everything! Giving probiotics too soon can cause your dog’s body to become overwhelmed by the toxins of the dead candida cells. This causes the skin to look worse and makes your dog much itchier and more uncomfortable. Therefore pre- and probiotics shouldn’t be given for at least two weeks prior to the diet change and during the addition and duration of the natural anti-fungals. 

Dealing With the Yeast Die-Off

The toxicity of yeast die-off can overwhelm your dog’s detoxification system, including the liver. 

That said, you absolutely can’t forget that the skin is the body’s largest organ and also one of the main detoxifying organs. This is why we see increased itching and lesions like hot spots when the die-off happens too quickly. The organism is dead, but its physical “carcass” remains until it’s broken down and eliminated, so you can imagine what the body’s dealing with. Depending on the amount of candida and yeast present it can take weeks or even months for the entire cleansing of the toxins to take place.

To help support your dog through the process, liver and digestive support are critical.

  • Adding herbs like milk thistle or other liver healing herbs can support the organs in detoxing. 
  • A digestive enzyme between meals can decrease inflammation and aid in the digestion of the dead candida cells.

Lots of people don’t know this but a good quality digestive enzyme that contains animal as well as plant enzymes becomes a powerhouse as a systemic anti-inflammatory. It can help conditions from arthritis to cancer to yeast die-off. It should be given between meals (not with food). A good tip is add it to a bit of bone broth.

Follow the recommended dose of liver support and digestive enzymes on the bottle of the product you choose. If it’s a human product, a good rule of thumb is a quarter of the recommended dose, but always check with you holistic veterinarian.

Keeping the Gut Healthy

What about the trauma to your dog’s gut? Yeast is a hostile enemy to the gut lining, so 100% we will absolutely, still need to deal with this!

The gut is the foundation of health. It’s the central hub of health in your dog’s body. It absorbs nutrition, creates the metabolites to even produce vitamins from the food she eats, helps to decrease food sensitivities, skin pathology, aging and diseases in general. The beneficial bacteria housed in the gut is your dog’s dominating factor for a strong immune system.

The gut builds the defense mechanism against yeast pathogens that cause disease. When you add up all the damage the yeast does to the gut lining, as well as damage from the drugs that disturb and destroy those beneficial bacteria, it’s vital to bring the system back into balance.

Now is when the introduction of pre- and probiotics happens, along with all the supportive herbs, homeopathic remedies and nutraceuticals that are geared towards healing leaky gut.

**Even if your dog doesn’t have candida or yeast, tuning up or nourishing the gut with some kind of program once a year can bring with it profound prevention on so many levels — including making your dog a poor host to yeast in the future.

Keep Allergies in Check

So, you’ve changed your dog’s diet, introduced those anti-fungals, and started the pre- and probiotics. Now what? How can you keep those allergy symptoms from returning?

Whenever possible, try to avoid your dog’s allergens until the yeast is eradicated and the gut is healed (no symptoms for a year). Once this happens then many times the food that your dog is sensitive to (as long as it’s healthy!) can be added back into the diet, with only ONE addition every three months. If the reaction happens again stop right away.  If there were only one or two sensitivities you may not want to risk this but many dogs are sensitive to almost all proteins, in which case it’s worth a try.

If environmental allergies are the culprit, these are often alleviated by the healing of the gut as toxins or foreign substances will no longer enter the blood stream.

Minimize outside toxins by filling a one litre spray bottle three-quarters full of steeped green tea. Add 12 drops of calendula tincture and fill the rest with apple cider vinegar. Spritz your dog’s body and feet on the way outdoors and again when he comes back in.

What About All The Drugs My Dog’s Had?

I’ve always found it helpful to try to rid the body of as many of the harmful effects that come along with drugs and vaccinations. Using liver support will help with detoxification but there are some homeopathic remedies that are extremely helpful when dealing with drugs and yeast die-off. 

I found a combination of Nux Vomica 30C with Sulphur 30X, twice a day for three days, worked well for drugs, and Thuja 30C with Silica 200C for vaccines, twice a day for two days.

Let’s face it, skin disease in dogs can be hard to deal with, for both you and your adored beast, but knowledge really is power. It is my sincere hope that together with dedication, education, and experience we can create the beautiful life that all of our pets deserve.

Julie Anne Lee, DCH RCSHom

Julie Anne Lee, DCH, RcsHOM, has been the owner and practitioner of some of the busiest and long standing holistic veterinary hospitals and clinics in North America. This includes founding the first licensed strictly holistic veterinary clinic in Canada. She developed and taught a three year post-graduate program for veterinarians at the College of Animal Homeopathic Medicine. She also presented lectures for the American Homeopathic Veterinary Association on homeopathy and functional pathology, the British Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons Association on treating chronic disease, the Canadian Society of Homeopaths on clinical comparisons of the treatment of human to animals, P.E.I Veterinary University on the gut microbiome, and many more over the last 20 years.

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