Scratching & Itching - Could It Be Yeast?
By Lew Olson • April 2002 Newsletter
One of the most common problems seen in dogs today is constant itching, scratching and licking. This has dog owners anxiously searching for the causes behind the irritation in their pets and whatever treatment and/or medications will cure this dilemma.
There are several factors that may be the seat of the itching and scratching. It may be the result of certain allergies that were introduced with frequent vaccinations as a puppy. It is thought that the proteins used in the carrier of the vaccines may set up a dog to be allergic to chicken or beef. It can also be in part because the dog has a poor immune system that may have either developed genetically through heredity or by stress as a puppy.
Sometimes it can be as simple as an allergy to fleabites, which can be cleared up by removing the flea population in the home, on the dog and in the yard. Some breeds are prone to zinc deficiencies, which can be not only a cause for itching, but of hair loss as well. Environmental issues can be another cause of the itching and scratching. Certain chemicals, cleansers, and or fertilizers can cause itching.
Most often, veterinarians diagnose these problems as allergies and recommend the owner begin a variety of treatments that may include antibiotics, steroids, special prescription diets, topical anti-itching creams (often containing steroids), skin scrapings and dips. Unfortunately, too often there is a relapse of the symptoms shortly after the pills, creams and other treatments are discontinued. Once again, the owner is back searching for more answers and frequently the same treatments are offered. The owner may also be referred to a specialist's clinic, where more medications, lotions and diets are recommended.
If this sounds familiar to you, maybe it is time to look at another common cause - to food your dog eats. It is important to understand that dogs are carnivores and their anatomy is designed specifically to consume fat and animal protein easily. Their digestive tract is short and simple compared to that of humans and their physiology is specific to that of a carnivore's diet and lifestyle.
While dogs (and cats) can digest meat and fat easily, their shorter digestive tract makes it difficult to digest starches and grains. These foods, which are complex carbohydrates, need a longer time in the digestion tract to process with fermentation and to break down. These foods are designed for longer alimentary tracts that can properly break down the cell walls. Additionally, they require specialized enzymes to achieve this goal. Dogs have neither specialization in their biological process.
Furthermore, starches and grains are composed of chains of sugars (polysaccharides) and these substances help promote the growth of yeast. While certain yeast in the body can be helpful, an overgrowth of yeast can cause itching and irritation in dogs.
The common symptoms of a yeast overgrowth include:
- Face rubbing
- Feet licking and soreness
- Rash on the belly and legs
- Redness in the ears
- Discharge in the ears, often a brown thick substance with a yeasty odor
- Chewing near tail and rectum
- Red or brown color between toes and/or reddish stain under the eyes
Additionally, foods that are too alkaline can also promote yeast growth. Therefore, it is beneficial to adjust the diet by adding foods that are more acidic (most often meat) and eliminating the high sugar foods (carbohydrates), which are also, called high glycemic foods.
The foods to cut back or eliminate include:
- All grains, including rice and pasta
- Starchy vegetables, such as carrots, potatoes, yams, winter squash, corn and green peas.
- Organic Apple Cider Vinegar (which is alkaline, while white vinegar is acidic)
- Large amounts of dairy products
So, part of planning and/or adjusting your dog's diet should include choosing foods that are low in sugar (low glycemic) and also foods that are more acidic than alkaline.
For those who feed a dry commercial dog food, this would entail adding fresh food to the food. You can add either raw or very lightly cooked meat, canned salmon or mackerel, eggs, small amounts of whole milk yogurt and fat such as Salmon Oil. Simply cut down on part of the dry dog food you feed and substitute it with some of the foods from above. You do not need to add any vegetables, as most of them are alkaline and the processed dog foods are already quite high in fiber and grains.
For those feeding a raw diet, it means eliminating the starchy vegetables listed above, as well as Organic Apple Cider Vinegar and flaxseed oil. While oils are not alkaline, ground flaxseeds are alkaline, as well as the lignans found in flaxseed oil. Feeding some dairy is okay, as dairy is acidic, but it does contain a small amount of milk sugar. While most vegetables are alkaline, it is more important to eliminate the varieties that are higher in sugar such as the starch and root vegetables. Acceptable vegetables to feed can include celery, zucchini, broccoli, dark leafy greens, cabbage cucumbers, and bok choy.
There are also certain supplements that are beneficial in helping fight yeast:
Berte's Ultra Probiotic Powder
This blend contains beneficial bacteria, including acidophilus which helps to fight yeast and keep the system acidic. It is sprinkled on the food with each meal. Be sure not to apply this to very warm or hot food, as it will destroy the good bacteria.
A full spectrum mix of enzymes that helps with the breakdown of fats, proteins and carbohydrates for easier and quicker processing by the body.
HAC Yeast and Fungal
An herbal blend that helps fight and kill yeast. This tincture is given at one drop per five pounds of body weight, two to three times a day for two weeks. Give one week off and repeat for two more weeks. Give with a small amount of food.
Tasha's Olive Leaf Extract
This herb helps fight yeast, bacteria and virus. Give for one month on, a week off, and then repeat for one more month. It comes in a handy dropper top bottle.
Salmon Oil Capsules
Omega-3 fatty acids help to regulate the immune system and aid in coat and skin problems.
These products can be purchased separately or they are available in a convenient Yeast Fighter Starter Pack.
Finally, it is important to keep the skin and coat clean. Oatmeal shampoos are soothing to the skin and work as an aid against itching. Our Pure Pet Shampoo is oatmeal based and leaves the dog smelling clean and fresh. A good companion to the shampoo is Thayers Witch Hazel with Aloe. The Witch Hazel helps to temporarily stop the itching, while the aloe vera helps cool the area and aids in the healing process. It comes in a handy 11-ounce plastic squirt bottle and has a fresh, clean smelling odor.
If you would like to ask me any questions about my products, I would love to hear from you. Please check your return address when you send me email from my web site and try to write me again if you have not heard back from me.
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(c) Copyright 2002 Lew Olson, All Rights Reserved