Blastomycosis in dogs is a systemic infection that is caused by a fungus that also affects humans and although quite rare, cats.
Dog infections, however, are much more frequent.
While it is serious in humans, it is much easier to treat. It estimated that about 70% of all dogs that get this infection do not survive it, while most humans will have only minor conditions.
Hunting dogs that roam in wooden areas or that live in or around water, are at a much higher risk of getting this potentially fatal infection.
While not fully understood why, male dogs between 40 and 70 pounds and three years or younger, seem to be at a much higher risk.
Older dogs with a weak immune system are also at risk.
Blastomycosis in dogs is caused by a fungal organism called Blastomyces dermatitidis that is found in nature as a mold in the soil, primarily in sandy or acid soils.
It is predominant in the Ohio, Mississippi, and St. Lawrence River Valleys, as well as the Great Lakes regions.
The entire eastern seaboard of the United States and Canada is also prone to this fungi infection.
What makes this fungal infection so dangerous is that it is also can be found at room temperatures, as well in yeast found in tissues.
The most typical route of infection will be from inhaling of spores of the fungi from the soil, and once this occurs, it transforms to the yeast form found in the lungs, where it starts to grow.
In humans the infection is most commonly called Gilchrist’s disease or mycosis, as well as the Chicago disease.
People can also contract this infection by working under crawl spaces or decks where this fungus may be in the soil.
The symptoms in humans will be coughing, shortness of breath, chills, as well as joint and muscle pain and stiffness.
In severe cases, there could also be skin lesions or small draining ulcers that will look like an abscess.
These lesions will drain blood and pus and are most commonly found on the face and neck.
In dogs the symptoms will be much more severe, and could take several months to surface.
Once Blastomycosis in dogs has infected, it changes from the yeast form of the infection to that of a mycelial form.
Yeast infections in dogs are quite normal and are not contagious, but in this form they have now become highly contagious, and as a result can spread into other organs in your dog’s body.
The initial symptoms of Blastomycosis in dogs will be a gradual loss of appetite followed by weight loss, depression, and fevers above 103 degrees that may come and go.
Your dog may also start to cough, develop eye problems usually accompanied by eye lesions, as well as a gradual lameness as the fungus spreads.
As the infection continues to spread in your dog, lung lesions will start to develop, and over 90% of dogs infected will get these lesions.
Once the lesions spread, the coughing turns to a harsh, almost thumping sound.
Once you start to hear this sound, you must react immediately, as it may already be too late.
By this time, the infection may be spreading through the bloodstream into the dog’s bones, brain, lymph nodes, as well as their skin.
With several types of fungus infections, your dog’s natural immune system will recover on their own, but this is not one of them.
They will have to be treated.
The most common treatment for Blastomycosis in dogs will be an anti-fungal called Itraconazole.
It is also the same drug used to treat humans and will need to be given to your dog for up to 90 days, and is very expensive.
With humans, most all cases are cleared up within 3 to 5 days.
It has proven to be the safest form of treatment and has few side effects. In acute and life threatening cases, the drug Amphotericin B is used.
Your veterinarian will have to administer this drug, as it has to be injected and then closely monitored.
There are other drugs available, but they are also very expensive.
Treating your pet for Blastomycosis in dogs could easily cost over 1,000 dollars, and in the majority of cases, they may not survive.
If you live in the areas in North America where you or your dog could come in contact with this fungus, there are other ways to treat and possibly prevent this infection.
Create an atmosphere where this or most fungus cannot survive.
It is very easy to do.
With humans, eat a diet that is low in anything containing yeast, such as dairy products, sugars, honey; and especially avoid drinks like fruit juices and beer that are high in yeast.
With your dog, make absolutely certain that their foods contain as little yeast as possible.
Supplementing dogs with Vitamins C, E, A and the B complexes will all be natural antioxidants against yeast and most fungus infections, but especially this one.
Garlic, either raw or though supplements is perhaps natures best defense against fungus, bacteria, and yeast infections.
It has often been called the wonder cure for fungus, and taken daily either raw or with supplements, can stop this infection before it starts.
Blastomycosis in dogs can be a very serious threat to your pet, as well as yourself. But if know the warning signs and take some preemptive measures, it can be prevented.