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Yeast In Dog EarsUpdated 10 months ago

An overabundance of yeast (Malassezia) can cause clinical signs like ear odor, ear discharge, scratching at ears, or head shaking. 

Ear discharge from a yeast infection can be brown, black, or sometimes yellow or white. Yeast are dark spheres (larger than bacteria) often with an extra smaller sphere, so they take on the shape of small "footprints". Low numbers of yeast usually live harmlessly on the surface of healthy ear skin; so, it’s common and quite normal to find small (occasional) numbers under the microscope. If no yeast are detected (none seen), that’s normal too. 

Even though we share some types of ear and skin yeast between pets and people, they aren’t contagious. This is because there’s almost always an underlying reason(s) the yeast overpopulates to cause clinical signs. If the yeast counts are high (1+, 2+, 3+, 4+) in your dog’s ear swab samples, and especially if with one or more clinical signs, then a physical exam of your dog’s ears is needed by a veterinarian. Treatment of yeast infections in the ear typically involves prescription antifungals. These can come as antifungal ointments topically applied to the surface of the ear or given by mouth, and/or antiseptic wipes and ear flushes that inhibit yeast growth.

Retesting with an ear cytology after treatment and a recheck ear exam, even if symptoms have improved, is commonly done by veterinarians to ensure that the yeast numbers have returned to normal (none seen or occasional).

Click here to learn more about yeast and ear infections in dogs.

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