Just like us, our furry, four-legged friends are susceptible to the world around us. Sometimes, even more so than humans. Our dogs love to explore even more than us. And while we love to see our pups running around, it is hard to keep them away from the f-word. That’s right, fungus!
It occurs just about everywhere in the world, in soil and water, in our homes and gardens, and street corners. But, don’t fret! While not all fungus is bad for your pup, there are a few types that could do harm to your dog. That’s why it’s important to be able to spot the signs of fungal disease. One of these ones to watch out for is Blastomycosis in dogs. Keeping ahead of this one will make you and your dog’s life that much easier.
What is Blastomycosis Dermatitidis
Blastomycosis, known as Blastomycosis Dermatitidis, is a systemic fungal disease which is commonly found in both humans and dogs. The infection can present in many ways, so it is important to learn to spot any symptoms early. This infection usually starts in the lungs and the disseminated blastomycosis spreads to other lymphatic regions.
Since there is a good chance your dog loves exploring the great outdoors, keep an eye out for particularly wet areas and places close to water, particularly in the Great Lakes region. Infections are most commonly found in moist soil, areas close to water, and in dogs that spend lots of time in areas where the blastomycosis fungus exist.
Dogs are 10 times more likely than humans to contract an infection, and 100 times more likely than cats. Getting familiar with where the infection is common really helps you keep your dog’s health and well-being in mind, making sure they are free to live a happy, fungus-free life!
What is Fungus
While most of us are familiar with the delicious, white mushrooms found in the local grocery store, there’s a lot more to fungus. Not an animal or plant, fungi are in a league of their own. There are about 99,000 known types of fungal organisms including yeasts, rusts, smuts, mildews, molds, and mushrooms.
Fungi exists in just about every environment in the world. They are able to live in water, soil, and just about any other place you can think. Which means it is very important to keep an eye out when your dog is out exploring.
Some types of fungus are rather useful. In fact, you can use them for the basis of some medicines or food (who doesn’t like chopped mushrooms in a salad). However, others are not as appealing, such as fungal spores which cause disease or mold that grows on food. Gross.
What is a Fungal Infection in Dogs
Fungal infections in dogs can be difficult to prevent. Unfortunately, it is impossible to eliminate fungi from the places your dogs like to explore. Fungus infections in dogs can affect many different areas, such as skin or mucous membranes. They can even sometimes spread to your dog’s organs. Hygiene is very important in managing and dealing with dogs with fungus infections, as well as anti-fungal medication.
Blastomycosis dermatitidis is most commonly found in large breed, male dogs, especially hunting and sporting breeds. While the infection presents most often in male dogs, it’s still a good idea to keep an eye out for your lady pups as well.
Dog Illness Symptoms
Blastomycosis can be tough to spot in infected dogs, even for the best of vets. It can be confused with cancer or a bacterial lung infection. This is important to note because treatment for these if misdiagnosed, could lead to more permanent effects. Letting your vet know if your dog has been in an environment with the fungus recently can be life-saving information.
The most common clinical signs of blastomycosis include:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Eye discharge
- Eye inflammation, specifically the iris
- Difficulty breathing (e.g., coughing, wheezing and other unusual breathing sounds)
- Skin lesions, which are frequently filled with pus
If your dog has presented any of these symptoms for more than 6 weeks, make sure your vet tests for a fungal infection. Especially if your dog has been in an environment in which canine blastomycosis is common.
Fungal Pneumonia in Dogs
Fungal pneumonia is a fungal infection in the lungs that comes from breathing in a variety of fungal spores. The fungi will move through the dog’s lymph nodes and circulatory system. Depending on the type of fungal spore, there are a variety of common symptoms including:
- Diarrhea (sometimes tinged with blood)
- Appetite loss
- Losing weight
- High temperature
- Discharge from eyes and nose
- Breathing difficulty
- Loss of sight (i.e. squinting, bumping into things)
- Raised rash on the skin
- Loud breathing
- Inability to walk
Most of these fungi are found in moist soil, so keep on eye on your dog if they experiencing these symptoms after visiting a similar environment. Fungal pneumonia can become a life-threatening disease if not treated right away. Make sure to get treatment for your dog from a vet or animal hospital if these symptoms appear to ensure your dog is healthy and happy!
What is Dog Pneumonia
If your dog has inhaled any blastomycosis fungal spores and it goes untreated, it can turn into dog pneumonia. Dog pneumonia is a bacterial or aspirational infection in the lungs. Symptoms of dog pneumonia include cough, fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, lethargy, difficulty breathing, dehydration, nasal discharge and rapid breathing. If you notice any of these signs, it’s worth taking your pup in for some chest x-rays to see if pneumonia might be the cause.
The good news is you can treat bacterial pneumonia with antimicrobial medication and have your dog feeling better within a few days. Aspiration pneumonia, which is the type often caused by blastomycosis, is a bit more serious and can be fatal if not treated quickly. Therefore, talk to your vet or animal hospital to keep your dog breathing easy.
Prognosis vs Diagnosis
These two terms can be somewhat confusing. So what is the difference? Let’s break it down.
A diagnosis is an identification of a condition based on observation of the symptoms. In this case, it would be identifying that your dog has canine blastomycosis.
A prognosis is a prediction of the outcomes and progression of the condition. You can think of this as what is likely going to happen with your pup and what steps you should take to make sure they get better as soon as possible.
Blastomycosis in Dogs Diagnosis
Blastomycosis is most effectively diagnosed through examining the lymph nodes, fluid drains from any skin lesions, or by looking at lung tissues. Doing a biopsy, or fine-needle aspiration, of infected areas is also common.
Additionally, getting a blood test can tell you if your dog has been exposed to fungi. However, it will not for certain say if they have blastomycosis. Be aware this diagnosis is sometimes mistaken for cancer or a bacterial lung infection.
However, a new antigen test (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) may allow veterinarians to more quickly and accurately diagnose the disease. Ask your vet if this is available if you suspect your dog might have blastomycosis.
Blastomycosis in Dogs Prognosis
Blastomycosis is a serious disease and must be addressed as soon as possible. If left untreated, it can be fatal. Unfortunately, there is no way to know the prognosis before you start treatment. While it is treatable, the prognosis depends greatly on the first 24-72 hours of treatment. This is when the medication first takes effect and the fungi begin to die. Because the lungs are home to the fungal organisms, there are possibilities of respiratory issues or even failure.
While it is impossible to know before, dogs in poor condition or with an advanced infection, are less likely to survive.
It is important to note that there is also a high risk of relapse. Many drugs are not able to penetrate the natural dog body’s defenses. This makes it hard to eliminate all the fungal organisms on site. Keep your eyes open for signs of blastomycosis. You can never be too safe!
Treating Blastomycosis in Dogs
If your dog is diagnosed with blastomycosis, start treatment as soon as possible. The sooner you can start to
treat, the sooner your pup can go back to
feeling good as new.
If your weapon of choice against fungal infections is home remedies, we’ve got you covered! Many pet owners are supplementing dogs with vitamins C, E, A, and B complexes as they are natural antioxidants that effectively combat yeast and fungus infections. Kale, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, carrots, and blueberries are all delicious natural foods for your dog that will do the trick!
And don’t forget the garlic! It is a wonder cure for fungus. It is nature’s defense against bacteria, fungus, and yeast infections.
The primary way to treat blastomycosis is using anti-fungal medication. However, medication is expensive. Treatment lasts for at least 60 days, or a month after the symptoms subside. Common medications for serious fungal infections include anidulafungin, micafungin, and fluconazole. Because of the severity of Blastomycosis, your pup may need several months to fully get better.
Blastomycosis in Dogs: Final Thoughts
In truth, Blastomycosis can be a serious problem for your loved four-legged friend. Spotting the signs and take preemptive steps can prevent it. Be aware of high-risk areas where fungus is prone to grow, and do your best to keep an eye on your pup’s condition after visiting these areas. Blastomycosis is serious, but with the right care and attention to their health and well-being, you can have carefree adventures all around the world!