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Dog Paw Pad Yeast Infections: Vet Reviewed Causes, Signs & Care

Rachel Giordano

By Rachel Giordano

Dog licking paw

Vet approved

Dr. Luqman Javed Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Your dog’s paw pads play an essential role in protecting the feet. They act as shock absorbers for joints and bones when your dog runs, providing traction on slick surfaces, and protecting the foot in harsh climates. When a dog’s paw pads become infected with a yeast infection, it can become quite an unpleasant experience; however, the paw pads are a common area for yeast infections to occur.

In this post, we’ll discuss the causes of dog paw pad yeast infections, the signs of a yeast infection, and how to treat the problem.

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What Are Dog Paw Pad Yeast Infections?

Yeasts are a type of single-celled fungus that produce spores. They are almost always present on your dog’s skin as part of their normal flora in low numbers. A yeast infection happens when there is an excessive amount of yeast in one particular area of your dog’s skin. Such an infection can pop up in the ears, on the skin, and of course, on the paw pads.

A healthy immune system will keep an infection from occurring, but when the immune system is weakened, possibly from an underlying medical problem, a yeast infection can occur. At other times, your dog may acquire a yeast infection from their environment.

An overgrowth of yeast (often accompanied with bacteria) usually occurs in moistened areas of your dog’s body, such as skin folds and around or in between the paw pads. When this occurs, it is considered a localized yeast infection, meaning it affects the skin and is an external issue rather than internal.

The most common type of localized fungal infections on a dog’s skin are:

  • Dermatophytosis (ringworm)
  • Malassezia Dermatitis
  • Sporotrichosis

In a strict sense, dermatophytosis is caused by various fungi, not yeasts.

Malassezia is a yeast and its infections may occur around your dog’s lips, ear canals, neck, tail folds, facial skin folds, groin, vulva (females), anus, or the space in between their paws (also known as the interdigital space).

Sporotrichosis is caused by Sporothrix schenckii, an organism which can exist in two forms: as a long branching structure known as a hyphal, or a yeast. This organism often infects pups through an open wound (for example, if your pup steps on and gets a cut from a branch that contains the organism). Infection usually stays at the site of the wound, but in some rare cases may spread internally and around your dog’s body via their lymph nodes. Sporotrichosis is zoonotic, and can spread from your pup to you.

Yeast infections can make your dog miserable, and it’s important to seek medical care for your dog if and when they occur.

Golden Retriever Dog licking his paws_Shutterstock_Chendongshan
Image Credit: Chendongshan, Shutterstock

What Are the Signs of Paw Pad Yeast Infection?

If you suspect your dog has a paw pad yeast infection, it’s wise to know what to look for to assess the problem. Let’s look at the signs of a paw pad yeast infection.

Signs of a Paw Pad Yeast Infection
  • Compulsively licking/chewing the paws
  • Redness and irritation
  • Pododermatitis (inflammation of the feet)
  • Musty odor
  • Brown discharge in nail beds
  • Scaly, crusty, or flaky skin
  • Thickened skin
  • Hair loss around the paws

If you notice any of these signs, take your pooch to the vet as soon as possible. Your veterinarian will do a workup to determine the cause of the infection. It’s important to seek medical treatment because the infection could stem from an underlying problem that needs to be addressed. Remember, yeast infections can occur from a weakened immune system, which can be caused by your dog’s immune system fighting some other form of infection or medical issue.

What Are the Causes of Paw Pad Yeast Infections?

Paw pad yeast infections occur from an overgrowth of yeast or bacteria and are not always preventable. However, you can take certain measures to help keep your dog’s paw pads healthy. Take your pooch to the vet for semi-yearly or yearly checkups—this is imperative to ensure your dog is healthy and that no underlying medical problem is present.

If your dog’s paws are wet from swimming, being out in the rain, etc., dry them with a towel to keep moisture from building up, which can lead to an overgrowth of bacteria, which can also perpetuate a secondary yeast infection (in many instances, yeast infections are also accompanied with bacterial infections). Fungi love warm, moist areas, and your dog’s wet paws are a haven for fungal growth. Your dog’s paw pads do not receive good airflow, which allows this area to retain moisture. You should rinse your dog’s feet after being outside in dirt and weeds, which can stir up skin allergies.

You can also shave or clip extra hair from the paws and around the pads. Hair collects dirt and debris, and it’s a good idea to keep the hair trimmed. You can always have your groomer perform this task if you’re uncomfortable.

Close up Man Looking at red and itching dog paw at home
Image Credit: Tienuskin, Shutterstock

How Is a Paw Pad Yeast Infection Diagnosed?

Your veterinarian will deploy certain techniques to diagnose a paw pad yeast infection and likely administer a full blood workup to search for an underlying cause. Let’s take a look at the techniques your vet may use:

  • Skin scraping: A dull blade is used to scrape the infected skin to collect yeast organisms.
  • Cotton swab sample: Your vet will moisten a cotton swab and rub it on the affected area to collect yeast organisms.
  • Impression smear: This is when your veterinarian will press a microscope slide onto the affected area to collect yeast organisms.
  • Acetate tape preparations: As the name suggests, a piece of tape is used on the affected area to collect yeast organisms.
  • Skin biopsy: Your veterinarian will perform a skin punch biopsy, which collects a small piece of skin to send off to a lab for an official diagnosis—this is the most invasive technique for a diagnosis and is usually only performed when potential concurrent issues are of major concern.

How Do I Care for a Dog With a Paw Pad Yeast Infection?

Once a diagnosis has been determined, your veterinarian will devise a treatment plan. Often, an antifungal medication is prescribed and can come in different forms, such as a pill, topical cream or ointment, or wipes that you’ll apply to the affected area. Your vet may also prescribe an antifungal shampoo to use as directed, and ensure you follow your veterinarian’s instructions on how to use these shampoos. If the yeast infection is caused by an underlying condition, your vet will discuss treatment options accordingly.

You can try home remedies, but before you do, we recommend taking your dog to the vet to assess the problem. Nonetheless, you can try a paw rinse using a vinegar dilution. However, this should only be done under the direction of your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will also advise you on the dilution that is best for your dog’s paw after they assess the extent of the problem.

Dog paws
Image Credit: LUM3N, Pixabay

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Dog Breeds Are More Susceptible to Paw Pad Yeast Infections?

Some dogs are more prone to develop yeast infections due to their skin, hair, or if they have many skin folds.

Can My Dog Get a Paw Pad Yeast Infection From Another Dog?

Malassezia infections are not contagious and  your dog cannot catch them from another dog. Sporotrichosis can spread from one dog to another, however it usually only happens via contact on skin that isn’t healthy or normal.

Can My Dog’s Diet Contribute to a Yeast Infection?

Food allergies may be a contributing factor towards a skin yeast infection. Food allergies may either make yeast infections worse or cause them. However, it is very difficult to ascertain if your dog’s yeast infections are caused by a food allergy. Flea bite allergies, canine atopic dermatitis, or environmental allergens may also perpetuate yeast infections. Consult with your veterinarian if you suspect that your dog is allergic to a specific food ingredient or if you feel that your dog’s diet may be contributing to their yeast infection.

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Paw pad infection can be a real nuisance for your dog and should be treated as soon as possible. Dogs with skin folds may need help with maintenance to prevent moisture buildup, and always keep your dog’s paw pads dry after swimming or being out in the rain. Ensure you take your dog for regular checkups, and ensure your dog does not have a food allergy.

If your dog is officially diagnosed with a paw pad yeast infection, ensure you follow your veterinarian’s treatment plan precisely, and use the home remedies mentioned for relief as long as your veterinarian has given the ok to do so.

Featured Image Credit: KPhrom, Shutterstock

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