Symptoms of Blastomycosis in Dogs

Blastomycosis is a systemic fungal infection that is common in dogs. It occurs due to infection with a fungus similar to yeast. If not properly treated, blastomycosis can serious complications. Read on to learn more about treating and preventing this fungal infection of dogs.

Risk Factors for Canine Blastomycosis

Dogs are most likely to develop blastomycosis if they are exposed to the fungus that causes it, Blastomyces dermatitidis. B. dermatitidis grows in damp, rotting wood and soil. It's prevalent in swamps, marshes, woodlands, and along the shores of lakes and rivers. Large-breed dogs, especially sporting and working dogs, are most likely to develop this fungal infection.

Symptoms of Blastomycosis in Dogs

Spores from the B. dermatitidis fungus can enter your dog's body through his lungs or his skin. Your dog might develop infected skin lesions, or respiratory symptoms. Coughing, wheezing and labored breathing are common symptoms of infection with blastomycosis.

Your dog might also experience lowered appetite, weight loss and fever. His eyes could become inflamed, especially around the iris. Discharge from the eyes can occur.

Diagnosing Dog Blastomycosis

Blastomycosis can be difficult to diagnose, because its symptoms are often similar to those of a bacterial lung or skin infection. If you live near a lake, river, or swamp, or have visited such an area in the past six weeks, it's important to tell your vet, and ask him to test for blastomycosis. Most dogs who develop this disease live within 500 yards of a marsh, swamp, lake or river.

Your vet will need to examine tissue and fluid samples from your dog's lungs, lymph nodes or trachea, in order to diagnose blastomycosis. X-rays and urinalysis can also be helpful in diagnosing this disease.

Treating Blastomycosis in Dogs

Your dog will need to take antifungal medications for at least a month. If he's really having trouble breathing, he may also need oxygen therapy. If your dog has a particularly severe case of blastmycosis, he may need surgery to remove damaged tissue from his lungs. Even if your dog's infection isn't severe, repeated chest X-rays during his treatment can help the vet keep track of his recovery progress.

During your dog's recovery, try to limit his activity so you don't put unnecessary stress on his weakened lungs. Your dog may continue to experience lowered appetite, so offer him tastier foods. Blastomycosis can spread to humans, so see your own physician if you develop any skin lesions or breathing difficulties.

Preventing Blastomycosis in Dogs

Prevent blastomycosis by keeping your dog away from the damp, shaded areas where the fungus that causes it thrives. Do so especially if your dog is young, or has lowered immunity due to another illness. If you can't keep your dog away from marshes, rivers, lakes or swamps, then monitor him closely for signs of the illness.

While blastomycosis can spread to humans, it's rare for the infection to do so. Avoid touching your dog's skin lesions with your bare hands. Wash your hands after touching your dog, and before touching your face, eyes, or any open wounds of your own.