You have probably heard of fungal infections affecting humans, but it may surprise you to learn that they are also prevalent among animals, including your canine best pal.
What is a fungal infection?
Fungal infections get their name from the fact that they are caused by different types of fungi. They tend to get divided into groups depending on which type of fungus is involved. Some fungal infections are systemic, meaning that they affect your dog’s internal organs, while others are localized and affect small areas of skin.
Fungal infections occur when fungal spores that your dog has come into contact with in the environment enter his body. This is normally via inhalation into his respiratory system, or via his skin.
Types of canine fungal infection
Dog fungal infections are extremely common and there are numerous different types that can affect your furbaby. Which variety he has will also affect his symptoms and which treatment will be most effective.
Blastomycosis is a systemic fungal infection and the fungus that causes it is usually found in wet soil, rotting wood and bird droppings. For this reason, this type of fungal infection is more commonly seen in dogs who spend a great deal of time in boggy areas or damp woodland.
Symptoms of blastomycosis usually include:
- Inflammation of the iris of the eye
- Skin lesions
- Weight loss
Fortunately, blastomycosis can be successfully treated using specific anti-fungal drugs prescribed by your veterinarian.
Also a systemic fungal infection, cryptococcosis is contracted via inhaling spores. However, most healthy animals do not become ill from this fungus. Instead, it affects those with already weak immune systems and other underlying health problems.
Symptoms of cryptococcosis include:
- Decreased appetite
- Eye problems
- Neurological problems, e.g. a wobbly gait
- Raspy-sounding breathing
- Weight loss
While cryptococcosis can be treated with medication, as it tends to affect dogs who are already unwell, the likelihood of a full recovery is questionable. As with most treatments, the sooner medication is started, the more likely your dog will make a successful recovery.
Similar to cryptococcosis, nasal aspergillosis is a systemic fungal infection that tends to only affect canines whose health is already compromised in some way. The spores can be found in dust, hay, straw and grass clippings.
Symptoms of nasal aspergillosis include:
- Nasal discharge
- Nose bleeds
- Supressed appetite
- Swollen nose
Nasal aspergillosis can be treated either nasally or orally, and many pets make a reasonably full recovery.
Also seen in humans, many people assume ringworm to be a worm-based parasite. However, it is actually a fungal infection that is localized on the skin and nails. The fungus that causes ringworm – dermatophytosis – can live on skin, hard surfaces, clothes and soft furnishings.
Ringworm is characterized by a red, circular-shaped lesion that is also itchy or sore. Topical anti-fungal ointments and shampoos can be very effective in treating the condition, although your vet may also recommend that your pet takes a course of oral medication.
If you wish to avoid it spreading to the humans in your family, you will need to do a thorough job of cleaning and disinfecting the majority of surfaces and furnishings in your home. Most dogs (and humans!) make a complete recovery from a ringworm infection.
Most of us are relatively common with yeast infections, which are caused when the naturally-occurring yeast on our bodies begins to multiply uncontrollably. Dogs are just as prone to yeast infections as humans are, although some canines suffer from chronic, repetitive cases.
Typical characteristics of a yeast infection include:
- Chronic ear infections
- Dry, flaky skin
- Musty odor from the area
- Thickened areas of skin
Again, yeast infections are completely treatable, and your vet will probably recommend a combination of topical medications including ointments and shampoos. In some instances, oral medication may also be necessary.
If you think that your dog might be suffering from a fungal infection, you should make an appointment with our veterinarian who can assess your pet’s condition and get him started with the most relevant treatment.