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Blastomycosis is a serious fungal disease that infects dogs and humans through the respiratory tract.
Your dog can contract this disease by inhaling the fungus found in soil near water.
These fungal spores will:
- Settle in the lungs and reproduce
- Spread through the body and infect other organs, such as the eyes, skin, bones, lymph nodes, and brain.
Left untreated, blastomycosis can be fatal.
An infected animal can not pass the disease to a healthy animal or to a human.
At the beginning stages, you may notice any of the following:
- Harsh coughing
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
As the disease progresses, a wide variety of signs can occur, depending on the organs affected, including:
- Eyes: inflammation, sudden blindness
- Brain: seizures, head tilt
- Bones: lameness
- Skin: lesions (blemishes) draining blood
- Lymph nodes: swollen
If you notice any of the above signs, you must go to the veterinarian immediately, as blastomycosis can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated right away.
Your veterinarian will suspect blastomycosis if you live near water. Some tests may include:
- Sample of fluid draining from skin lesions or lymph nodes
- Chest x-rays
- Blood tests
- Fungal titers (checks the blood for antibodies of the fungus)
Affected dogs need a few months of antifungal medication, orally and through IV. This may cause liver and kidney damage, so your veterinarian will have to closely monitor your dog and regularly do blood work.
Severely affected eyes may not respond well to the medication and may need to be removed.
There is currently no vaccine available against blastomycosis. However, there are some preventative measures that you can practice:
- Avoid excessive time in the woods, especially near water (since blastomycosis is in the soil near water)
- Feed your dog foods containing no yeast
- Give Vitamin C, E, A, and B as a supplement if your veterinarian recommends
- Give garlic supplements if your veterinarian recommends
Blastomycosis is usually fatal if not diagnosed and treated right away. Treatment is long, complicated, and expensive, and many dogs do not respond to it.
If your dog's brain or eye is affected, the prognosis is worse.
Dogs with poor liver or kidney function may not be able to tolerate the medication.
Relapses can occur.
Medically Reviewed by Sara Ochoa, DVM