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How to treat a yeast infection in dog paws

The essentials

  • Your dog’s feet are susceptible to dog paw yeast infections — Your dog’s “feet skin” is especially susceptible to yeast, as it is often in contact with moisture. 
  • Yeast infections can affect every area of your dog’s skin — Commonly the lip margins, ears, facial folds, armpits, groin, the underside of the neck, and the skin in between the toes.
  • Clinical signs of a canine yeast infection can vary, but your dog may be uncomfortable — Possible symptoms of a yeast infection in dog paws include licking, chewing, scratching, and a “yeasty” odor.

Dog paw yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of fungus in the layers of the skin on and around your dog’s feet. When this happens, your pup won’t be able to resist itching, licking, and biting those itchy spots, often prompting pet parents to take a trip to the veterinarian. Topical or oral medications are a common route to treatment in most cases.

Yeast infections aren’t generally considered to be life-threatening, and vets say cases are common. However, many owners may be concerned due to the possible range of presentation and symptoms associated with a dog yeast infection. For example, a dog’s yeast-infected paw may look red or discolored, feel itchy, and may even have a brown discharge at the base of the paw. It may also be accompanied by a yeasty, unpleasant aroma or rawness.

Why do dog paws get yeast infections?

According to experts in the Canadian Veterinary Journal, Malassezia pachydermatis is known as a common yeast that can be present in many dogs. Too much yeast leads to infection — and it can often hide in skin folds, nail beds, and paw pads (which many affectionately know as “toe beans.”)

Yeast dermatitis occurs most commonly in animals with the following underlying causes and conditions and skin diseases:


Environmental allergies and food allergies are some of the leading causes of fungal infections in your dog’s ears and feet. In severe cases, untreated allergies can lead to patchy, bleeding skin, gastrointestinal distress, and recurring dog paw yeast infections. Your vet can help you to diagnose allergies by addressing possible triggers, trialing allergy-safe diets, and using medication to mediate your dog’s immune response — which can contribute to ongoing allergy “attacks” and yeast infections. 

Internal & skin disorders

Autoimmune diseases and disorders can wreak havoc on your dog’s skin. For example: Bacterial pyoderma can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms, including crusty skin, yeast overgrowth, and pustules. Your dog can also experience yeast infections as a result of thyroid disorders, Cushing’s disease, and others. 

Fleas and parasites 

Fleas and parasites can traumatize and weaken your dog’s skin, making them susceptible to yeast infections and overgrowth. Treating fleas and parasites as you see them is key to limiting your dog’s risk in this area. 


Trapped moisture under your dog’s feet can lead to yeast overgrowth, itchiness, and irritation. Moisture in this area can accumulate as a result of playing in puddles, or simply walking outside when it’s moist or humid out. Frequent dry-offs and an “after-walk” routine can be simple and helpful ways to minimize this yeast infection risk factor.

Breeds susceptible to yeast infections in their paws

Dogs of any breed can be susceptible to yeast infections on their paws. However, these commonly affected breeds may end up at the vet with frequent skin issues:

👉 Your veterinarian can diagnose and confirm your dog is suffering from a yeast infection on their paws.

What are the symptoms of dog paw yeast infections?

There are many clinical signs pet owners need to watch for, and all of these can mean that a veterinarian appointment is likely the next step.

  • Excessive chewing and licking of paws. Dogs are often seen chewing and licking the red, irritated areas of their feet.
  • Scratching. Itchy skin and redness are other signs of yeast infections in dogs.
  • Pungent odor. The yeast odor is very pungent and reminiscent of corn chips, and you’ll probably be able to smell this right away, especially when they lick and itch.
  • Red, irritated, and itchy paws. Always look for red and moist skin when you examine the paws.
  • Dark brown discoloration at the base of the toenails. Yeast infections in the paws may also affect your dog’s nails. During regular grooming sessions, it’s important to take a good look.
  • Flaky, crusty skin on the paws. You may find yellow crusting and scaling, and the skin can become hyperpigmented on the paws, where they itch frequently.

Yeast infections can have a very specific odor, which is usually very musty or cheesy-smelling. If you smell your dog’s paws and suspect yeast, it’s time to see the vet.

Diagnosing and treating paw yeast infections in dogs

If you’re concerned about the possibility of a canine yeast infection affecting your furry friend’s feet, it’s likely that your vet will perform a series of tests to determine the presence of an infection and where one might be (if identified). They can also look into the exact strain causing the symptoms and the level of growth that it has reached. 

The actual diagnosis of Malassezia is determined after a veterinarian performs skin cytology (studying skin cells under a microscope). To do this, vets might use a tape impression test, as well as bloodwork to confirm a diagnosis. They may also conduct a skin scraping test to review your dog’s skin sample under the microscope. 

In a tape impression test for Malassezia, the testing tape is applied, removed, and stained. The vet will then examine the stained tape or scraped sample under the microscope to see if yeast or bacteria are present on the skin. Once your vet has seen possible evidence of overgrowth, your vet can create a treatment plan for your pup.

The good news is that dog yeast infections can be treatable. The treatment for Malassezia dermatitis usually involves topical therapy with antifungal shampoos, sprays, wipes, creams, lotions, or other systemic treatments. These can include options such as:

  • Anti-yeast oral medications. Including ketoconazole, fluconazole, itraconazole or terbinafine
  • Prescription-medicated shampoos. When using a medicated shampoo, it’s important to lather the shampoo over the affected skin lesions and allow the shampoo to soak for 5-10 minutes before rinsing.
  • Medicated wipes. Dechra TRIZCHLOR wipes can be good for gentle cleaning between your dog’s toes.
  • Food elimination trial. Your veterinarian may recommend a food elimination trial to determine if your dog’s ongoing skin issues are due to food allergies.
  • Topical sprays. Like Dechra’s MiconaHex + Triz Spray Conditioner and Vetone Conzol 1% spray.

👉 It can take up to four weeks to treat yeast infections in dogs, so patience is key.

How to prevent yeasty dog paws

Yeast infections in dog paws, particularly with specific breeds, are common but not inevitable. These steps will help you protect your pup’s paws from a yeast infection.

Make it a habit

Always dry your dog’s paws off when they come in from a walk or the outdoors. This step is especially important during rainy seasons when your puppy’s paws are more likely to get wet.

Yeast and other types of fungus can thrive in damp environments, which is where a quick drying routine can come in handy. The less time your pup spends wet, the better — whether they’re a bit damp on the back from a rainy walk or swim or splashed through a puddle on the way home.

Be thorough

As you dry your pup, spend time getting between the toes — and take a few minutes when you’re done to ensure they’re not licking after you dry them off. A no-heat blow dry set to the “low” setting can be useful, and so can plush dog-only towels.

We want to note that simply letting your dog “walk it off” may not dry their feet. A walk or hike after prolonged exposure to dampness may actually cause more irritation, and your dog will start to lick their paws when you get them back to the house — which can fuel the growth of yeast.

Take a bath

Regular cleaning and baths can help prevent an inflammatory skin condition or yeast overgrowth. Again, make sure your pup is dry after you’re done. Don’t be afraid to go back over with the towel a few times until your dog is completely dry to the touch.

Watch for licking

If you’re worried about a possible dog paw yeast infection, it’s essential to prevent your dog from licking their paws. The saliva from a dog’s mouth easily gets trapped between the toes, leading to a moist environment for yeast to thrive.

Look for other symptoms

When there’s a yeast infection involved, you might see certain symptoms that can co-occur, such as hair loss around their paw pads and red, angry-looking skin folds. It might be time to book a vet visit if you notice this or a cheesy, “bread-like” smell coming from your dog’s pads.

Consider allergy testing

If your dog seems to get a never-ending stream of yeast infections, there might be something more at play. Consider taking the time to rule out allergy issues. If your dog does have allergies, they can be more prone to yeast infections — which can escalate to a range of symptoms. Being aware of this possibility; diagnosing accurately, and knowing the signs of an allergic reaction can save your dog’s life.

Work with your vet on a treatment plan

If your dog has an underlying condition, like a weakened immune system, work with your vet to manage it. Should your dog develop a yeast infection — regardless of underlying conditions — it’s important to seek prompt care.

Don’t forget that the skin is an organ

Healthy skin is important to your pet’s health! Like the immune system, the skin protects our bodies, including internal tissue. A dog’s skin regulates body temperature, and absorbs or secretes materials into and out of the environment. Skin is also one of the primary sensory organs.

A dog’s skin is also a sensitive organ, and mild inflammation can cause discomfort and impact their quality of life. Pets can be susceptible to thousands of different skin conditions, varying from fungal to parasitic, or even bacterial or viral infections. The range of danger can escalate when an infection or threat is left unaddressed, compromising your furry friend’s quality of life. It’s never “just a skin thing.” It’s always vet-worthy!

Frequently asked questions

Does apple cider vinegar help yeast infections on dogs’ paws?

Unfortunately not. Veterinarians agree that apple cider vinegar isn’t effective in treating yeast infections, as the acetic acid content isn’t really high enough to make a difference. The best way to start treating a dog’s yeast infection is to talk to your vet.

Are Epsom salt baths effective treatment?

Epsom salt baths to treat their dog’s yeasty paws or any other infected area are not recommended as they aren’t considered effective.

What home remedies treat yeast infections in dog paws?

It’s best to work with your veterinarian to determine a treatment plan for your dog’s infection. They’ll take a closer look at your dog, go over treatment options, and prescribe antifungal shampoos, sprays, wipes, and creams or systemic treatments.

How do I treat a yeast infection on my dog’s paws?

Some of the best treatment options can include medicated creams or shampoos, wipes, sprays, and medication. Speaking with your vet regarding your dog’s experience can help you to walk away with the best and most appropriate form of treatment possible.

How do I know if my dog has a yeast infection on their paws?

If you notice your dog persistently itching, biting, sucking, or scratching their paws or surrounding skin areas, there is a chance of yeast overgrowth on their paws and feet. Other symptoms can include redness, discoloration, patchy or scaling skin, hair loss, and swelling.

How did my dog get a yeast infection in their paw?

Yeast is everywhere in your pet’s environment. It can thrive in moist, dark conditions (such as the folds of your pet’s paw pads) and can also be exacerbated by internal factors — such as autoimmune dysfunction or other medical disorders. Your vet can help you narrow down possible causes and limit your dog’s risk for infections.