Fungi are not as common as bacteria and viruses. However, they are part of the infections that affect cats and dogs. They can also be as infectious as bacteria and viruses. An accurate diagnosis is necessary before treatment. For that, you need to know what symptoms to look for as you take your pet to the vet.
What Are Fungi?
They are parasitic organisms that feed on hosts for nourishment. They also produce spores that affect your pet. Although there are different species of fungi in the environment, only several will cause infections. Your cat or dog can get fungi through the soil.
Soil is the primary source of fungal infections. Pets can inhale these infections or ingest them when eating something off the ground. Your pet can also get fungal infections by exposure to animals with existing infections. Another way is through a wound or cuts in their skin.
Common Fungal Infections in Dogs and Cats
Different fungi in the environment can impact your pet’s health. However, some are common to both dogs and cats. They may infect the whole body or one particular area. These fungal infections include:
Cryptococcosis is present in soil and areas where birds like pigeons are frequent. It affects cats more commonly than dogs. However, dogs tend to develop a more severe form of the disease. It is difficult to treat. It causes lethargy, coughing, nasal discharge, eye problems, and skin lesions. In severe cases, it causes neurological abnormalities and seizures.
Your dog or cat will have to take oral medication for a year or more. However, some pets still succumb to the infection.
Your pet can get coccidioidomycosis or valley fever from inhaling dirt or dust containing the fungal spores. It reproduces well in areas with little rain and sandy soil. Strong wind or crop harvesting can stir up the spores into the air, and your pet inhales the spores. The symptoms include weight loss, lack of appetite, and a chronic cough that may develop into pneumonia.
In cats, they may develop skin problems that include lumps and abscesses. The fungus can also spread to other body parts like the bones or the eyes. Diagnosis is difficult, most likely requiring the use of blood tests and radiographs. Once the diagnosis is positive, treatment will start. It is usually long-term until your pet feels better, which most animals do.
Histoplasmosis is another infection found in the soil. It is common in temperate areas with nitrogen-rich soil containing bat or bird excrement. Pets inhale the spores that cause fungal infection. The symptoms include eye inflammation, fever, cough, vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss.
Diagnosis is by a combination of radiographs together with blood and urine tests. Treatment is long-term, but prevention is best. Keep your pet away from areas with bat or bird droppings.
This fungus is present in most parts of the country. It mainly resides in the dog or cat’s nasal passages. The symptoms are non-specific. However, they can include facial swelling, pneumonia, and inflammation of the sinuses. Diagnosis is difficult and may require laboratory tests and X-rays. The treatment depends on the overall condition of your pet, as well as the extent of the infection.
For more information on fungal infections in pets, visit Madison Animal Care Hospital at our office in Madison, Alabama. You can call 256-461-7575 today to schedule an appointment.
In case of an emergency, you can call (256) 715-8389 or visit Huntsville Veterinary & Specialist Emergency in Huntsville, Alabama.