Aspergillosis in Dogs

January 5, 2016

aspergillosis roxannaBy Langley Cornwell

As responsible pet owners, we all want to make sure our pets are happy and healthy. This often means staying apprised of conditions and diseases we may not have ever heard of. One condition that may be unfamiliar to many dog owners is called Aspergillosis, and it is a source of serious concern. Essentially, this is known as an opportunistic infection. It is a fungus that is unable to settle in and take hold until a dog’s immune system is compromised by another condition or disease.

So if your dog has an immunodeficiency or has recently had a health problem that affects his immune system, you should know about Aspergillosis and be on the lookout for it.

Where Does Aspergillosis Come From?

Dogs are curious creatures, and it isn’t uncommon to find them rolling in grass clippings or sniffing dust bunnies. Sadly, this is how Aspergillosis can get into a dog’s body. There are two kinds of Aspergillosis: nasal and disseminated. The aspergillus fungus is a species of mold that is found in dust, straw, hay and grass. Because of this, dogs that spend time outdoors or on farms are most likely to develop any type of Aspergillosis, rather than inside dogs that are supervised when they go outside.

Nasal Aspergillosis

When a dog digs with his nose or rolls around in an environment that contains the fungus, he may inhale the spores. This leads to a type of infection called nasal Aspergillosis. The spores achieve direct contact with the sinuses and cling to the moist lining of the nose. Dogs with a healthy immune system can fight off the infection, but a canine with a compromised immunity can fall victim to the fungus and begin exhibiting symptoms. Some symptoms of nasal Aspergillosis include:

• Sneezingaspergillosis les
• Nasal pain
• Nosebleeds
• Reduced appetite
• Nasal discharge
• Discoloration of the nose
• Swollen nose

Disseminated Aspergillosis

There is no definite answer as to how the fungal spores enter a dog’s body for disseminated Aspergillosis to take hold. However, it can affect different areas of the dog’s body and symptoms are often misdiagnosed because they are long term, slow to develop, and can be confused with other conditions. So if your dog is acting strangely, be on the lookout for possible signs of disseminated Aspergillosis. Some of the symptoms to watch for include:

• Spinal pain
• Lameness
• Bone inflammation
• Fever
• Weight loss
• Vomiting
• Anorexia

Prevention and Treatment

Aspergillosis does not pass between animals or humans. This is good news, because you don’t have to worry about your other pets or your family being affected. The other good news is that this infection is treatable. There are two ways that Aspergillosis is treated. One is topical, which involves anesthesia and application or infusion of a topical antifungal agent into the sinus cavities. The other is systemic treatment which is oral antifungal medication. The topical treatment has been shown to be more effective.

It is a good idea to keep a close eye on your dog, especially if he has a compromised immune system. Avoiding grass, hay and straw as well as dust and unsupervised exploring is advised. Leash walks and less free time to explore and discover moldy areas are key factors in preventing this infection. If your dog has been sick in any way recently, it is important to make sure he does not get exposed to the spores that cause infection in his already weakened state.

In general, the easiest prevention is as simple as keeping your dog’s immune system strong and healthy. Provide him with a safe place to live, feed him a nutritious dog food like CANIDAE Grain Free PURE, provide plenty of mental and physical stimulation, and let him know he is loved. This is the perfect recipe for keeping a dog healthy and happy, and for cementing a strong bond between the two of you.

Top photo by Roxana Brongo/Flickr
Bottom photo by Les Chatfield/Flickr

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell

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Comments

  1. Gary Iverson says:

    I can testify to this article and wish I had read it long ago. It started when my German Shepherd was having pups and I was preparing a comfortable place for her to have them. After I fenced off an area I went to the farmers co-op and bought bales of straw. As the pups were just weeks old, a male named Ollie started having runny eyes of green puss which eventually evolved into disseminated Aspergillosis. After treating him for many months he went into remission. Unknowingly, I continued to bring in more straw as it became a habit. All my Shepherds would roll and play in it. We are now treating his sibling Annie for the same disease. Hers showed up as lameness in her back leg. After many visits to 4 different vets, over 7 months turned up 3 different diagnosis’ including cancer and before an invasive biopsy it occurred to me to have her checked for Aspergillosis. It came back a high positive. Having fought this same disease for years now, I’m getting the knowledge and understanding of how to treat it effectively using antifungal medication along with natural supplements. It is a serious disease but it can be cured. From my experience it is often misdiagnosed or undiagnosed until it is too late. I have to wonder how many dogs have been lost to this disease diagnosed with cancer or other things.