Blastomycosis is a potentially deadly disease that is caused by a fungus found in damp soil where mold is present. This fungus likes wet or damp areas near swamps and lakes; dogs (and humans) who spend a lot of time in areas such as these are most at risk.
A dog can get blastomycosis simply by inhaling the fungus that is hidden in the soil. The fungus travels to the lungs and can then spread to the rest of the body.
It is important to bring your dog to your veterinarian as quickly as possible if you suspect she has blastomycosis.
Some of the most common signs are:
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty breathing
- Weight loss
- Blindness and other eye problems
- Draining skin lesions
Not every dog that is exposed to this nasty fungus is infected, but those that do become infected need treatment in order to get better. An important aspect in diagnosing this infection is to understand if your pet frequents the type of place that harbors the fungal organism, so providing your veterinarian with a detailed history is important.
Additionally, your veterinarian may recommend running the following tests:
- A skin biopsy (if your dog has skin sores), or a biopsy of other affected tissues/organs, to identify the causative agent
- Urine tests to rule out urinary tract infection and to evaluate the ability of the kidneys to concentrate urine
- Chemistry tests to evaluate kidney, liver, and pancreatic function, as well as sugar levels
- A complete blood count to rule out blood-related conditions
- Electrolyte tests to evaluate hydration status and choose proper fluid supplements, if your pet is dehydrated
- Chest radiographs (x-rays) to evaluate the lungs and heart
If your pet has been diagnosed with blastomycosis, your veterinarian will discuss treatment options with you. This may include antifungal medications and other supportive treatment. Some antifungal drugs have the potential to cause kidney and liver damage, so your veterinarian will want to monitor your dog’s chemistry, urinalysis, and other laboratory values during treatment.
Unfortunately, there is no vaccine or effective way to remove the fungus that causes blastomycosis. If you spend time in damp areas, keep an eye on your best friend; if she acts sick or you see any signs that may indicate a fungal infection, contact your veterinarian right away.
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
An Overview of Blastomycosis in Dogs From a Vet’s Perspective
Blastomycosis is a fungal infection in dogs that can be life-threatening in some cases. It can also affect humans and other animals. Blastomycosis in dogs is the disease caused by being infected by a fungus called Blastomyces dermatitidis.
What is Blastomyces? It is a dimorphic fungus when it infects dogs, it morphs into a yeast infection at the dog’s warm body temperature and spreads throughout the body, affecting different organs.
Blastomyces is most commonly found in sandy, acidic soil near fresh water such as lakes and streams. It can also be found in decaying plant material and animal waste, common in wooded areas, forests, and farmland. The fungus requires a specific environment to develop and is located in specific pockets rather than being widespread.
The fungus Blastomyces is native to North America and has a wide distribution, such as the USA states Mississippi, Missouri, and Canadian regions such as Saskatchewan, Quebec, and Ontario.
Can Fungal Infections be Prevented?
You won’t find a vaccine or preventative medication that can keep your dog from developing a fungal infection. However, a dog in good health is much less likely to become ill with a systemic fungal infection. The best way to keep your dog healthy is to feed a well-balanced diet, get plenty of exercise and see a veterinarian for regular check-ups.
If you live in an area where certain types of fungal infections are more common, you may wish to keep your dog from digging around in damp soil. Always do your best to prevent your pet from stirring up bird or bat droppings and stay out of areas where there are large quantities of fecal matter.
You may not be able to prevent a fungal infection, but you can be aware of the symptoms and seek medical care without delay if you suspect your dog may be infected. Rapid weight loss, coughing that lasts more than a few days and fever are all symptoms that should be checked by a qualified veterinarian.
What is Fungal Infection ?
Blastomycosis is a fungal infection that occurs predominately in young dogs that live near a body of water, which is where the fungal organism thrives. If left untreated, the infection may spread to the lungs, eyes, and other organs, resulting in blindness, lameness, or death. Antifungal medications may clear out the infection entirely if the organisms are identified early, so the sooner your dog is diagnosed, the better the chance of a full recovery.
Blastomycosis is a serious fungal infection that requires immediate treatment for a better prognosis. This condition is rare and can easily be misdiagnosed, as it shares symptoms with a variety of other canine illnesses. If you suspect your dog has been exposed to Blastomyces dermatitidis, let the veterinarian know and request that your dog be tested for a fungal infection.
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Blastomycosis is diagnosed based on history, symptoms, radiographs, blood tests and identification of the organism under a microscope. The safest and most effective way to treat Blasto is oral administration of the anti-fungal drug Itraconazole. Other drugs may be given if Itraconazole is not effective. Treatment must usually be given for 60-90 days. Prognosis depends on the organs affected, the health of the animal and the severity of the disease when treatment is started.
There is currently no vaccine available to protect against Blastomycosis. It is difficult to determine where the source of most infections comes from and avoidance is almost impossible. Limiting the amount of time a dog spends in the woods, particularly near water sources, may help reduce the incidence of this disease. Blasto can only be acquired from exposure to the Blastomycosis spores either through inhalation or a puncture wound.
Knowing if Blastomycosis occurs in your area, recognizing the symptoms, seeking prompt veterinary attention and following through with the treatment are the best ways to deal with this disease.