Antifungal Cream and Dogs – Safe or Harmful? [Answered]

Fungal infections are an absolute nightmare – they are itchy, unpleasant to look at, and extremely hard to eliminate. If you have ever had a fungal infection, you know that antifungal creams can be really helpful, but what about fungal infections in dogs?

Can I use antifungal cream on my dog? Yes, you can use antifungal creams in your dog. Antifungal creams contain active ingredients that combat fungal infections, and when used correctly and following the vet’s instructions, they can be used in dogs safely and efficiently. The accent in this sentence is put on the term vet as it is critical to consult with your veterinarian before applying antifungal creams on your dog.   

In this article, we will explain what antifungal creams are, how they work, and why they are an essential part of antifungal therapy. We will also review the use of some of the most popular antifungal creams. 

FUNGAL INFECTIONS IN DOGS

Before we start explaining antifungal creams, we should say a word or two about fungal infections in dogs. The two most common fungal skin infections in dogs are ringworm and yeast dermatitis. 

Ringworm in dogs

First of all, do not be confused by the name – ringworm has nothing to do with worms. The infection was named after the ring-shaped lesions it causes. Ringworm in dogs can attack the skin, fur, and nails. It is incredibly contagious and can be passed to humans too. 

A dog with ringworm infection will develop bald and scaly round spots and acne-like bumps on the skin. As the condition progresses, the fur will become broken and of low quality.  

To prevent further spreading, dogs with ringworm require immediate medical attention. The primary treatment for ringworm includes the application of topical ointments or antifungal creams. In more severe cases, the vet may prescribe antifungal medications. 

Yeast dermatitis in dogs

Yeast dermatitis is a skin infection that manifests with darkening and thickening of the skin, formation of scaly and flaky patches, itchiness and redness, and an unpleasant musty odor. 

The culprit behind yeast dermatitis is an opportunistic pathogen meaning it usually is present on the skin. Still, due to changes in the conditions, it overgrows to the point that it causes problems. Therefore, yeast dermatitis is not contagious. 

For example, yeast dermatitis can occur when the dog’s skin produces excessive amounts of oil, and oils are the ideal breeding ground for yeasts. The excess oil production can be triggered by allergic reactions affecting the skin or a condition known as seborrhea oleosa. 

The yeast dermatitis treatment entails the use of degreasing baths with medicated shampoos and antifungal creams. In more advanced cases, an oral antifungal is necessary to manage the yeast overgrowth. 

HOW DO YOU TREAT A FUNGAL INFECTION ON A DOG?

The treatment of fungal infections in dogs is based on antifungal medications. There are two types of antifungal meds:

  • Topical antifungals – formulated for external use and available in the form of creams, ointments, lotions, sprays, and shampoos
  • Oral antifungals – developed for internal use and available in the form of pills and capsules. 

Which type of antifungal medication is best for your dog depends on the type of fungal infection. In more advanced or severe cases, it is possible to combine both approaches – a topical antifungal cream on the skin lesions and oral antifungals for systemic effect. 

HOW DO ANTIFUNGAL CREAMS WORK?

Antifungal creams contain an active ingredient capable of fighting off the fungus. Based on how they work, there are two types of antifungal active ingredients:

  • Active ingredients that attack and destroy the fungal cells
  • Active ingredients that prevent the spreading of the fungal cells. 

When the active ingredient attacks the fungal cells, it usually focuses on destroying the cell wall, thus compromising the cell’s structural integrity. Once the cell collapses, its contents spill out. 

Depending on the type of antifungal cream you are using and the severity of your dog’s condition, it is possible to see a significant improvement in just a few days. However, it is critical to complete the whole treatment before discontinuing the cream use. Early discontinuation of the antifungal cream always leads to relapse. 

WHAT ANTIFUNGALS CAN I USE ON MY DOG?

There are various antifungal creams. Some are formulated exclusively for dogs, and others are human products that can be used in dogs “off-label.” 

Popular antifungal creams include one of the following active ingredients:

  • Clotrimazole 
  • Econazole 
  • Ketoconazole
  • Miconazole.

Regardless of which antifungal cream type you use, it is imperative, you collaborate with your vet. First, the vet needs to determine whether your dog really has a fungal infection and needs antifungal creams. Then, the vet needs to recommend which antifungal cream is the ideal choice for your dog and explain how it should be used. 

Can I use clotrimazole cream on my dog?

Yes, you can use clotrimazole cream on your dog. Clotrimazole is an FDA-approved over-the-counter antifungal cream popularly used to treat ringworm infections. However, there are certain precautions you should consider before and while using clotrimazole. 

First, you need to be extra careful not to get clotrimazole into your dog’s eyes, nose, or ears. For your own protection, we recommend wearing gloves while applying the cream or washing your hands immediately after. 

You should also know that clotrimazole can trigger skin irritation on the application site. This is not so much of a side-effect but a relatively expected reaction. Therefore, the clotrimazole treatment should not last for more than 14 days unless the vet recommends otherwise.

Finally, we must note that there is also a clotrimazole solution available in easy-to-use dropper bottles and sprays. The vet will explain which form of this antifungal medication is best for your dog’s unique needs. 

Can I use econazole cream on my dog?

Econazole is a broad-spectrum antibacterial and antifungal topical cream. Because of its broad-spectrum efficiency, it can be used to treat various infections, including ringworm, fungal dermatitis, and skin issues caused by bacteria, dermatophytes, and molds. 

The econazole cream is available as 1% potency and is formulated strictly for topical use. The package clearly states the cream is not suited for ophthalmic use, meaning you need to ensure your dog’s eyes are protected while applying the cream. 

Unless the vet instructs otherwise, econazole is applied once per day in a thick layer covering the entire skin lesion. The cream is relatively fast-acting. Namely, there will be a visible improvement after few applications. 

In humans, econazole causes a burning and itching sensation on the skin. However, there are no known reports about such side effects in dogs. Also, there is no information about possible drug interactions. 

Can I use ketoconazole cream on my dog?

Ketoconazole creams for dogs are specifically formulated for pets and are usually available in low potency options like 2%. Ketoconazole can be used to treat serious fungal infections, including ringworms and yeast dermatitis. 

As in most cases of antifungal cream use, you should be extra careful not to let any cream go into your dog’s eyes, and to prevent the spread of the infection, wear gloves during application. 

We strongly recommend talking to your vet before using ketoconazole cream on your dog. This is because ketoconazole can cause side effects, interacts with certain medications, and must not be used in pregnant dogs. 

Although safe, in some extra sensitive dogs, ketoconazole can cause gastrointestinal reactions like vomiting and diarrhea or, in severe cases – liver hepatitis. As for drug interactions, ketoconazole should not be used in dogs receiving antacids, heart medications, theophylline, anticonvulsants, and cyclosporine.   

Can I use miconazole cream on my dog?

Miconazole is an antifungal medication available only through veterinary prescription. It is a popular option when fighting off ringworm infections and yeasts dermatitis. 

When it comes to applying the cream, the recommended standard is to dry off the area and then use a relatively thick layer on the skin sores. Covering the lesions with cream once per day is enough, and the overall length of the treatment is between 2 and 4 weeks. 

The basic rules of antifungal creams like no cream in the dog’s eyes, nose, and ears and wearing gloves for self-protection are applicable with miconazole too. 

It is worth mentioning that some sensitive dogs may develop side effects after starting them on miconazole creams. The most frequently recommended side effects include the formation of blisters, skin irritation, excessive itchiness and skin dryness, frequent peeing, and increased water intake

There are no known drug interactions you should be aware of. However, you must not use miconazole on your dog if allergic to the active ingredient. 

SUMMING UP: ANTIFUNGAL CREAMS FOR DOGS

Antifungal creams are an integral part of antifungal treatment. They can be used to treat various fungal infections affecting the dog’s skin and ears. The antifungal creams reviewed in this article are safe and efficient for dogs. 

Although some examples are available over-the-counter, it is not recommended to self-treat your dog without the vet’s approval. Always consult with your vet before starting your dog on an antifungal cream or any other medication.