Fungal infections in dogs

Fungal infections in dogs

Fungi that attacks dogs

When we here the word fungi, most of us picture mushrooms, toadstool and perhaps bakers yeast in our minds, but fungi can also cause disease in dogs and humans alike. Fungi are for instance responsible for the common ringworm disease in dogs. As you might have guessed already, fungi that infect dogs will not cause the appearance of cute little toadstools with red hats and white dots on top of your dog – fungi will instead cause anything from mild skin irritation to lethal damage of internal organs.

Pathogenic Fungi vs. Opportunistic Fungi in dogs

Fungi that cause disease in dogs can be broadly places in two different categories: pathogenic fungi and opportunistic fungi. Pathogenic fungi species are capable of causing infection in otherwise healthy dogs, while opportunistic fungi causes disease in dogs that has already been weakened by something else, such as virus or bacterial infections, stress brought on by improper dog care, malnutrition, old age, wounds etcetera. Histoplasmosis, Blastomycosis, Coccidioidomycosis and Cryptococcosis are all examples of diseases caused by pathogenic fungi and is commonly seen in otherwise healthy dogs. Aspergillosis and Candidiasis are examples of disease caused by opportunistic fungi and are usually seen in dogs weakened by something else. Prolonged administration of antimicrobials, including antibiotics, seems to increase the risk of opportunistic fungi infections in dogs.

Symptoms and diagnosis of fungal disease in dogs

The symptoms of fungal disease in dogs will naturally vary depending on the exact microbe and whether is causes a systemic infection is stays limited to a certain part of the dog's body. Gross lesions are commonly associated with fungal disease in dogs, but they are certainly not the only symptom.

In order to provide a definite diagnosis, the vet can do a culture and hopefully determine which organism that is behind the problems experienced by your dog. Microscopic identification is also possible. In some cases, the obvious symptoms will be enough to determine the culprit and pick the right treatment. In other situations, a serology test is recommended.

Anti-fungi treatment for dogs

The recommended anti-fungi treatment for your dog will depend on which fungi that is causing the problem, how much the disease has spread, and the overall health condition your dog. Generally speaking, fungi infections in dogs are either treated locally, e.g. by applying an anti-fungal cream to the infected area, or systemically, e.g. by giving the dog anti-fungal medication orally or via injections. In some cases, surgery will be required.   

Preventing fungal disease in dogs

Preventing fungal disease in dogs can be tricky, since fungi are found all over the world. Fungi even occur as a natural part of the microscopic flora living on our skin. There are however a few things that the dog owner can do. Since soil is the primary source of infection for a lot of fungal disease, you can keep your dog away from soil where dangerous fungi are known to occur. Fungi causing Blastomycosis in dogs are for instance known to occur in wet and sandy river banks. Keeping you dog away from birds nests and spots where a lot of birds defecate is also a good idea, since such places can contain a lot of infectious fungi, including Histoplasomosis. Bat faeces can also be contaminated and letting your dog run around inside bat caves is not recommended. In the south-western parts of the United States, the risk of catching Coccidioimycosis is especially high after stormy weather with a lot of rainfall.

Fungi can enter your dog in variety of different way, including being inhaled, being drunk from a contaminated puddle, or being ingested via contaminated food. Wounds can also become a point of entry for fungi.

Fungal Infections in dogs: (click for more info)
Blastomycosis in dogs
Cryptococcosis in dogs
Histoplasmosis in dogs
Phycomycosis in dogs
Pythiosis in dogs
Ringworm in dogs
Sporotrichosis in dogs