What is a Systemic Yeast Infection (SYI)?
A normal healthy Gut in an animal (or person) is protected by, and operates properly due to, a very fine coating referred to as the FLORA. This Flora is made up of many billions of super tiny microorganisms. Simply put, there are about 500 different forms of 'known' microorganisms that reside in the digestive tract and make up the very delicate Flora. Some or these organisms are good (beneficial), some are bad (pathogens), including Candida Albicans. This Flora, consisting mostly of the 'beneficial' bacteria, is a necessary element in maintaining proper digestion as well as building immunities for good health.
Normally, the large intestine hosts a balance of beneficial bacteria (Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus bifidus) along with the harmful Candida. Candida is usually kept in check by the Lactobacillus bacteria, partially by the production of lactic acid. Candida actually provides growth factors for Lactobacillus. They exist in a natural balance, until something happens to upset that balance.
WHEN THE pH BALANCE IS UPSET...
(Examples would include pets with hot spots, rashes under the arms, reoccurring ear or urinary infections, continued staff or or acne problems.)
Although there is no "single factor" responsible for turning this naturally occurring organism into an agent of disease, the candidal species is notorious for being an "opportunistic" pathogen: "Candida incite disease in hosts whose immune system (local or systemic) have been impaired, damaged, or innately dysfunctional". Underlying causes that weaken the immune system and may make your pet more susceptible to yeast problems include, cancer, hypothyroidism and chronic use of antibiotics and cortisone.
Candida has a tenacious ability to adhere to mucosal surfaces. This is a necessary step for the initiation of candidiasis, and adherence depends on the immune status of the host. Candida secretes enzymes which destroy membrane integrity, leading to dysfunction. Candida also secretes toxins which activate the immune system, overload the liver, and then deposit themselves in body tissues.
Three Types of YEAST Infections:
- Superficial (most common) - characterized by inflammation of tissue linings, i.e. skin, GI tract, pharynx, upper and lower respiratory tract etc.;
- Locally invasive - i.e. pneumonia, cystitis, esophagitis, the most common being ulcerations of the intestinal, respiratory or genito-urinary tract;
- Systemic - an invasive infection, characterized by lesions of the heart, kidneys, liver, spleen, lung, brain and other organs.
There are several things to consider WITH candidiasis:
- The inflammatory response must be treated;
- Lactobacillus count needs to be increased in order to help re balance the GI tract and keep Candida in check;
- The immune system needs strengthening, which decreases adherence ability;
- Antibiotics, steroids, and other immune-suppressing drugs, along with simple carbohydrate foods, should be avoided;
- Digestive secretions should be increased;
- Nutrient deficiencies should be reversed; g) Liver function should be optimized to increase ability to filter toxins.
The good bacteria that are attached to the inner intestinal walls are benign and do not harm us. They don’t make harmful chemicals or provoke immune responses and inflammation. These microorganisms protect us from the adherence of disease causing bacteria, like Salmonella and Shigella, which cause diarrhea.
When antibiotics are given for an infection, the antibiotics not only kill the bad bacteria contributing to the infection but also can kill and clear out the more beneficial benign bacteria in your gut. Candida is unaffected by the antibiotics and readily moves-in and takes over as the good guys die off. As the yeast invades new territory, it entrenches itself, and will continue its relentless advance as long as it remains unopposed.
We all know the importance of antibiotics for a serious infection. The unfortunate side-effect of antibiotics is that they destroy the ‘good guy’ bacteria, at the same time causing GI imbalance. Sadly, antibiotics are often part of many of the popular pet foods being sold today.
The disruption if the intestinal balance is where the troubles begin. The Candida yeast goes through cycles of overgrowth, where toxins are released throughout the system causing numerous or various symptoms (see symptoms list
). Candida makes a variety of toxic chemicals, which kill the good bacteria. The making of these chemicals prevents bacteria from coming back and enables the yeast to stay after antibiotics are given. These chemicals include toxic alcohol, acetone and the nerve poison hydrogen sulfide. These chemicals are very sedating, slow down the brain and may cause chronic fatigue.
For a deeper understanding of the Candida condition and its ramifications - CLICK HERE
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
Candida symptoms are often diagnosed as “ALLERGIES” and commonly seen as rashes and skin outbreaks in the paws, face/muzzle, ears, under arms, underbelly or genital areas. Other symptoms include recurring ear infections, eye infections, and bladder or urinary tract infections.
In yet other ways, the yeast toxins can cause fatigue, lethargy, immobility, joint pain and discomfort. The animals start experience severe itching, which leads to endless biting, chewing and hair loss. Symptoms may include skin problems like; blackening of the skin, dry flaky skin or greasy type grit on the skin. As the condition worsens over time a bad yeasty smell or odor may accompany this.
Yeast is very evasive and resistant of the body’s immune system. So the immune system generates inflammation, which provides a defensive wall against the yeast. Normally this painful inflammation resolves with healing, but in the case of Candida, it resists the immune system. As these immune cells circulate and find yeast in other places, such as the skin, they start additional inflammation. Again however the immune system cannot clear the Candida. Then the inflammation persists, leading to chronic inflammation on the skin. There are many names for such skin inflammation, on both humans and dogs, ranging from eczema to psoriasis. In the intestinal tract, such persistent inflammation can develop into Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Some of these animals may exhibit pimple-like dermatitis where the skin may be wet with pus that progresses through self-chewing or scratching resulting in pyoderma or Seborrhea: A Dry type - similar to heavy dandruff. Greasy type - yellow brown greasy scales that adhere to hair shafts; rancid odor.
Another example would be that of a Lick granuloma (acral pruritic dermatitis): Red, shiny skin ulcer caused by continuous licking at wrist or ankle or foot. Usually seen occurring in large, short-coated breeds.
WHEN DEALING WITH A SYSTEMIC YEAST PROBLEM...
YOU MUST HAVE PATIENCE - THE PROCESS TAKES TIME!
THIS IS A SLOW CLEANSING PROCESS! The time for overall recovery averages 3 to 7 months or approximately 1 month for every year of life and slightly longer for those pets with a history of medication usage including; Antibiotics, Steroids and Antihistamines. However, we have seen longer recovery times with puppies who have had primary FLORA damage at an early age from treatment for parasites or worms or those currently going through vaccinations.
HEAT MAKES THE SYMPTOMS WORSE
Summer Heat is the most significant activator as it pushes the yeast toxins to the surface. In winter the heat is from the heater or furnace.
The symptoms, including itchiness and inflammation, often appear to worsen during the initial 2 months of the program, usually beginning at about 3-4 weeks. This Herxheimer effect of the body detoxifying often lasts for an extended period (2-3 months). The process of cleansing Candida can produce flu-like symptoms, nausea, loose stools and diarrhea in the beginning and the pet may appear lethargic.
Make sure to keep an eye on your pet’s general health and temperature and certainly please don't allow them to chew themselves to bleeding if possible. DON’T AVOID treatment by your Vet for secondary bacterial infections that are a result of pet scratching or chewing themselves