Malassezia spp

From Dog
A Cocker spaniel with idiopathic seborrhea and Malassezia spp otitis externa. Chronic infection has resulted in stenosis of the canal[1]

Malassezia spp are a commensal yeast found as part of the normal skin flora of dogs worldwide.

Their pathogenic role may be related to host immune system as well to yeast virulence factors (e.g., phospholipase production and biofilm formation).

Species which are pathogenic to dogs include:

  • Malassezia pachydermatis[2]
  • Malassezia furfur[3]

This dermatophyte primarily causes dermal disease characterized by greasy seborrhea, but otitis externa, blepharitis and paronychia are also common presentations.

A synergism appears between malassezia spp presence and the development of atopy in dogs[4][5].

Diagnosis is based on clinical presentation and culture of yeast in the laboratory.

Treatment is usually effective with twice weekly bathing in antifungal shampoos such as 3% chlorhexidine shampoo, 2% miconazole-2% chlorhexidine shampoo[6] or topical clotrimazole.

Systemic treatment is usually required with systemic skin involvement.

Oral terbinafine (30 mg/kg orally once daily for 4 - 6 weeks)[7] or itraconazole[8] are usually effective drugs.


  1. Vetnext
  2. Mueller RS et al (2012) A review of topical therapy for skin infections with bacteria and yeast. Vet Dermatol 23(4):330-341
  3. Yurayart C et al (2011) Comparative analysis of the frequency, distribution and population sizes of yeasts associated with canine seborrheic dermatitis and healthy skin. Vet Microbiol 148(2-4):356-362
  4. Kobayashi T et al (2011) Genotyping of Malassezia pachydermatis isolates from canine healthy skin and atopic dermatitis by internal spacer 1 (IGS1) region analysis. Vet Dermatol 22(5):401-405
  5. Kim HJ et al (2010) The immunoglobulin G response to Malassezia pachydermatis extracts in atopic and non-atopic dogs. Can Vet J 51(8):869-872
  6. Maynard L et al (2011) Comparison of two shampoos for the treatment of canine Malassezia dermatitis: a randomised controlled trial. J Small Anim Pract 52(11):566-572
  7. Berger DJ et al (2012) Comparison of once-daily versus twice-weekly terbinafine administration for the treatment of canine Malassezia dermatitis - a pilot study. Vet Dermatol 23(5):418
  8. Cafarchia C et al (2012) In vitro antifungal susceptibility of Malassezia pachydermatis from dogs with and without skin lesions. Vet Microbiol 155(2-4):395-398