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Dog Blastomycosis: Symptoms and Treatment

Updated on June 21, 2009

Lethargy and Fever are often signs of Blastomycosis

Owners of dogs living nearby the Great Lakes Region and the Mississipi, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Missouri River valley should be informed about the risks of Blastomycosis. It all happens when a fungus that inhabitants these areas produces microscopic airborne spores which the dog inhales causing them to end up in the dog's lungs.

The spores tend to thrive in moist areas, rich in bird droppings and rotting organic debris that receives little exposure to sunlight. Dogs with a tendency to sniff and dig often disturb the soil causing the spores to be dispersed in the air. Another contributing factor is dry weather, where the soil is dry allowing the spores to be easily lifted, whereas wet soils cause the spores to tend to stick to the ground.

Once settled deep within the dog's lungs the spores multiply developing into yeast like organisms. The dog's immune system may recognize these foreign bodies and react to them effectively eliminating them, or in the worst-case scenario, if the dog's immune system is vulnerable or if the inhaled spores are too large in number, symptoms of Blastomycosis may develop.

Symptoms of Blastomycosis in Dogs

Affected dogs will generally develop symptoms days or weeks after having inhaled the spores. Typically, the disease causes the following symptoms:

-High fever often ranging from 104 to 105 degrees

-Loss of Appetite

-Coughing

-Tiredness

-Lethargy

In some cases, Blastomycosis may spread from the lungs to other areas of the body such as the lymph nodes, joints, eyes and skin. This disseminated form therefore may produce the following symptoms:

-Sudden Blindness

-Limping

-Presence of a small Abscess

-Blood in Urine

Diagnosis of Blastomycosis in Dogs

Veterinarians that live in areas where Blastomycosis is common will usually come swiftly to the diagnosis because they are used to deal with the disease and know what to look for and what tests to run. However, often dogs travel to areas where Blastomycosis is common only to go back to areas where the disease is almost unheard of leaving veterinarians often puzzled and coming to a diagnosis after a long battery of tests. If you have travelled recently to an area where Blastomycosis is common, let your vet know. It may make a great difference.

The most common diagnostic tests consist of: obtaining fluid samples from infected areas, draining skin lesions, testing material coughed up or getting a needle biopsy of the lymph nodes.

Treatment of Blastomycosis in Dogs

Treatment consists of administering anti-fungal medications such as Sporanox or Flucanazole. Flucanozole in particular has little side effects but it can be significantly pricey. Often such medications are prescribed for 6 months or even a year. Prognosis depends on the time lapse from the time the first symptoms appeared to when the treatment is initiated and disseminated forms may be more difficult to treat. Unfortunately, dogs that have lost eyesight to Balstoycosis never will regain vision.

Knowledge is power, and by knowing the key symptoms of Blastomycosis you may help your veterinarian come to a diagnosis swiftly and you will know already what to expect. While blastomycosis is not generally contagious from dogs to humans, exposure to the same areas where spores tend to gather will likely cause Blastomycosis in owners as well. However, the fact that dogs are lower and tend to dig makes them particularly prone to the disease.



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