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5175 Pacific St., Ste B
Rocklin, CA 95677

(916) 632-2400

Dermatology 101

Filtering by Tag: Allergies

Do carbohydrates and sugars make yeast infections worse?

Mary Sakai

Yeast (Malassezia) is a very common cause of skin disease in our dogs and cats. It can cause itchiness, redness, darkening skin, “elephant” skin, excessive scaling (dandruff) and malodor. While Malassezia is a normal inhabitant of the skin, certain underlying conditions like allergies can cause an overgrowth and/or infection of this yeast and some people and pets can actually develop an allergy to their own yeast. Many of our patients have an overgrowth of yeast as a part of their skin condition.

Unfortunately, there are some common misconceptions about the yeast that lives on the skin of dogs and cats. First and foremost, the yeast that commonly causes problems in humans is Candida albicans. Candida lives in the intestines of humans and feeds on sugars and carbohydrates ingested. Malassezia lives on the skin and feeds on fats. This is why, limiting carbohydrates, sugars or giving probiotics does not treat Malassezia skin infections.

It is essential to completely control Malassezia infections in order to control the symptoms listed above. Cytology is a diagnostic test by which the doctor takes a sample and looks at it microscopically. It is used to diagnose a yeast infection. When a yeast infection is identified, a combination of oral and topical therapies will be recommended to treat the yeast.

Allergies in Cats and Dogs

Mary Sakai


Spring is here, and with it comes increased pollen counts and the start of another allergy season!  To start off the allergy season, we’d like to give you a general overview of allergic skin and ear disease syndromes in dogs and cats.

There are three major allergic skin and ear disease syndromes seen in dogs and cats: flea allergy dermatitis, environmental allergies (aka atopic dermatitis), and food allergies.  The primary symptom of allergies in dogs and cats is itching.  Itching manifests as excessive scratching, licking, biting, rubbing, and chewing.  Skin rashes, greasy skin and coat, bad odor, bacterial or yeast skin and ear infections are also commonly seen in allergic pets.  Since all of the allergic syndromes have similar or even identical symptoms, determining which type(s) of allergies your pet has can be a complicated process. 

Flea allergy dermatitis is probably the overall most common type of allergic skin disease seen in dogs and cats.  See our previous blog entry for detailed information on this type of allergy.

The second most common type of allergic skin disease in dogs and cats is atopic dermatitis.  In animals with atopic dermatitis, allergic skin/ear symptoms are triggered by exposure to allergens in the environment such as tree, grass or weed pollens, dust, dust mites, some insects, and molds.  Atopic dermatitis can be active year-round, or only part of the year during an individual pet’s specific allergy season.

Of the three major allergy syndromes we have mentioned, food allergy is the least common.  Twenty to thirty percent of dogs and cats with food allergy dermatitis may also have concurrent gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting, soft stool, diarrhea, or excessive gas.

Check our website monthly for future blog entries with more information about diagnosis and treatment options for atopic dermatitis and food allergies.

Bath Time!

Mary Sakai

Winter weather is here, and California is finally getting some of the rain we desperately need!  Because this is a time of year when our pets are spending more time indoors or travelling with us to visit friends and relatives, we want them to be clean, shiny, and smelling nice.  So, how often are you actually supposed to bathe your dog?  This is a question we get all the time.  There is a lot of information (and misinformation) out there about when, how, and why to bathe your dog.  Bathing recommendations for dogs depend on your pet’s lifestyle, skin health/disease status, and their breed and hair coat type.

Dogs with healthy skin and coat really do not need to be bathed that often.  Short coated dogs can often get away with being bathed every few months, or on an as needed basis- when they run through the mud at the dog park, or are smelling a little too “doggy.”  Dogs with longer coats, or breeds with continuously growing hair (such as poodles) may need more regular grooming – every 6-8 weeks is fairly typical.

Dogs with skin disease often have special bathing needs.  For some patients, it is not uncommon for the doctors here at Animal Dermatology & Allergy to recommend bathing 1-2 times per week!  We will often prescribe a medicated shampoo for your pet- the choice of medicated shampoo depends on the specific skin disease(s) we are treating.  Pet owners are sometimes concerned when they hear that we want them to bathe their pet so frequently…”Won’t this cause dry skin?”  The answer in most cases is NO.  Veterinary shampoos have really come a long way- these medicated shampoos have just as much scientific research leading up to their development as many of the human shampoos we use to wash our own hair.  Medicated veterinary shampoos are designed for frequent bathing, and many of them contain moisturizers to help replenish natural skin oils.  Additionally, pets with skin disease frequently have up-regulated production of skin oils, and so frequent bathing helps de-grease their skin and coat.

If your dog has sensitive skin or has a skin disease of any kind, you may want to avoid shampoos that contain tea tree oil or oatmeal.  For many dogs, these shampoos are just fine.  However, when our clients tell us about pets having a reaction to over the counter dog shampoos, it is often with a shampoo containing tea tree oil or oatmeal.

For pets with sensitive skin or skin disease we also recommend bathing with luke-warm to slightly cool water temperature, because heat can intensify the sensation of itch.  If you are using medicated shampoo, here are some general guidelines: wet the skin and coat first, apply shampoo, then allow shampoo to sit on the pet for 10 minutes prior to rinsing thoroughly.  Towel dry, or use a room temperature air dryer.  

With the colder weather, we do recommend that you keep pets in a warm place until they are completely dry.   If you have questions about your dog’s specific bathing needs, call your veterinarian to ask for advice.

The doctors and staff at Animal Dermatology & Allergy wish you and your pets a wonderful holiday season, filled with the joy of family, friends, good food, and good health!