Can I Use Antifungal Cream on My Dog? (Experts Consulted)

Dogs, just like people, can suffer from fungal infections.

Some are caused by the dog’s body yeast others are started by parasitic fungi

Sometimes these infections can be found in the ears and this is especially common in dogs with long floppy ears. 

Some dogs are also prone to fungal skin infections called yeast dermatitis. This can cause redness and itchiness on the skin. 

Wherever the fungal infection takes place, there are myriad ways of treating it...

Sometimes your vet may prescribe antifungal medication. This often happens if the infection is nasal or internal. 

Other Times you can treat the infection with antifungal shampoos, ear drops, or medicated baths.

But can I use antifungal cream on my dog?

It's not as simple as "yes" or "no" or "use this one" as which creams you can use, what they treat, and how to apply them can be a bit of a mystery, especially if they aren’t vet prescribed.

I hope to demystify some of that confusion in this post by sharing my 20+ hours of research...

As before writing this post I spent over 20hrs analyzing what top online Vets like VCAHospitals and HillCrest Animals were recommending as well as looking at over 1,000 user opinions on the most popular antifungal cream for dog brands.

So let’s take a closer look at antifungal creams and dogs...

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You can read my full disclosure here for more information.


What Can They Treat? 

Topical antifungal creams, that is creams that are applied to the affected area of the body, are usually used to treat skin infections. 

Fungal infections that affect dog’s skin include: 

  • Ringworm - A fungal infection that affects the skin, fur, and nails of dogs, ringworm is very contagious and can be passed between dogs and humans.

    A dog with ringworm will typically develop bald scaly spots, broken fur, and acne-like skin bumps. Ringworm needs to be treated quickly to prevent it from spreading to other dogs and humans. 

Usually, treatment will consist of a topical ointment or cream, medicated shampoos, and oral antifungal medications.

  • Yeast Dermatitis - This is a kind of yeast infection that can affect a dog’s skin. Symptoms include a darkening of the skin, scaly, flaky patches, musty odor, itching and redness, and thickened skin.

    Yeast Dermatitis is what’s known as an opportunistic infection. It is not contagious and it is not caught from spores or the environment. It is caused by excess oils produced by the dog’s skin and fur.

    The oils make the dog’s skin the perfect breeding ground for yeast. Commonly, Yeast Dermatitis is triggered by allergic reactions where the body produces more oils to manage and fight the reaction.

     In rare cases, it can be triggered by a condition called seborrhea oleosa which is when excessive amounts of oils are produced causing dandruff and lesions. 

Treatment for Yeast Dermatitis will include a degreasing bath with medicated shampoo, usually followed up with cream and sometimes oral antifungal medication. 

Can I Use Antifungal Cream on My Dog?


How Do They Work?

Antifungal creams will contain an active ingredient that works to combat the fungus. These ingredients will either attack the fungal cells or they will prevent the spread of the fungus. 

If the ingredient attacks the fungus, it usually attacks the cell wall which destroys the structural integrity of the cell. This causes the cell to collapse and the contents of the cell to spill out.

The active ingredients used in antifungal creams tend to be one of the following: 

  • Clotrimazole
  • Econazole
  • Itraconazole
  • Ketoconazole
  • Miconazole

Where to Get Them

Your vet may prescribe antifungal creams for your dog if they think it will help. They may prescribe the cream as part of a larger treatment plan or on its own. It depends on the severity of the infection. 

It’s difficult to estimate how much your vet will charge for the cream because each practice sets its own costs.

One thing to remember is that you rarely pay for just the cream when you visit the vets. You will also need to pay for the consultation. 

We strongly recommend visiting a vet before starting your dog on any form of treatment but do remember there is a cost associated. You would be well advised to take out pet insurance if you don’t already have cover. 

You can also purchase antifungal creams without a vet’s prescription. There are plenty of creams available online and in pet stores. 

The key thing to remember when looking for fungal creams is those active ingredients. Most creams are sold under a brand name that often has little to do with the active ingredient. You may need to dig a bit deeper and check out the ingredient list.

You can, in a pinch, use antifungal creams intended for human use. 

You’ll want to check that they contain one of the above mentioned active ingredients. There is a wider range of antifungal ingredients certified for human use. Don’t use ones that haven’t been mentioned. 

You’ll also want to make sure the dosage is low. Often the amount of active ingredients in a cream is listed as a percentage. Stick to creams with a 1 or 2% ratio. 

We recommend you check with your vet before starting any medicated treatments on your dog.

How to Apply

When applying antifungal creams you need to take some precautions. This is especially important if you are treating a contagious infection like ringworm. 

Before applying the cream, make sure the area is clean and dry. 

If this is the first time you’re applying the cream, it’s a good idea to bathe your dog beforehand. Use an antifungal shampoo to degrease and treat some of the fungi. 

Once bath time is over, dry your dog carefully. Damp environments are breeding grounds for fungus! Make sure you dry your dog off properly. Get in all the flaps and folds. 

To apply the cream, make sure you wear gloves. This will stop the infection from spreading to yourself. Even if the infection can’t be caught by humans, you risk transferring it to surfaces your dog may touch later. 

Your dog might be a bit sore from the infection or from scratching. Apply gently according to the vet or manufacturer’s instructions.

You may need to apply the cream more than once a day. Refer to the dosage instructions for guidance. 

Final Thoughts

Antifungal creams are often used as a multiphase attack on fungal infections. 

They are usually used to treat infections of the skin and ears though they can be used for nasal infections too. 

You should always consult your vet before starting any treatments. This is for the safety of your dog not the benefit of your vet’s bank account.