Candidiasis , Coccidioidomycosis And Cryptococcosis In Dogs

Candidiasis In Dogs

This is a fungal infection of the skin and the mucous membranes caused by Candida albicans, a single-celled fungus similar to yeast. It may affect the digestive tract also. Candidiasis is a common disease all over the world, and many animals as well as humans are affected by it. However, it rarely occurs in dogs except in cases where they have undergone treatment procedures like catheterization that injure the mucous membranes. Antibiotic therapy, as well as drugs and diseases that weaken the immune system, may make dogs prone to Candida infections.

The usual symptoms of candidiasis are weakness and diarrhea, apart from skin lesions in the affected area. But being general in nature, these symptoms may not always lead to the diagnosis of the disease. Lesions in easily accessible locations such as the skin and the mouth may be treated successfully by applying topical ointments containing anti-fungal agents. Oral medications may be prescribed by the veterinarians to treat the infection elsewhere or they may be administered intravenously.

Coccidioidomycosis In Dogs

A fungus called Coccidioides immitis is responsible for this respiratory disease affecting many kinds of animals as well as human beings. But dogs happen to be the worst affected. The infection is initiated by the inhalation of dust borne fungal spores. This non-contagious disease is confined to certain geographic regions that have desert-like dry and dusty climate, such as Southern California and other Southwestern parts of US. It is prevalent in areas with similar climate in the South American countries and Mexico too. When rains are followed by dry spells, the dust forms that occur in these regions often bring about an epidemic of valley fever in dogs and humans. But while it is restricted to respiratory troubles in humans, the fungus spreads to other tissues and organs in dogs. Bones and eyes are the most affected. The symptoms depend on the organs affected, but the most common are fever, persistent cough, weakness, loss of appetite and diarrhea. The joints may be swollen, and the dog may become lame or develop skin ulcers.

Not all dogs that inhale the spores develop the infection, nor all the dogs that get infected by the spores display the symptoms, because their immune system may be capable of fighting it off. Many dogs with the symptoms eventually overcome the disease naturally. But those with chronic infection characterized by continued respiratory distress and the involvement of other organ systems may need to take antifungal medications for a long period extending up to a year. The respiratory problems are usually solved without delay, but the outcome may not be predictable in case of severe disease affecting many other organs. There is no way to prevent this disease in dogs, but the risk may be lowered by limiting the exposure to dust and dust storms, especially during the epidemic season.

Cryptococcosis In Dogs

This disease caused by Cryptococcus neoformans has a worldwide distribution, and affects both animals and people. But it is a serious disease in dogs. The fungus is found in the soil as well as in bird droppings, particularly in those of pigeons. When the fungal spores are inhaled, or when they enter through wounds, they cause the disease. The respiratory system, skin, eyes and central nervous system may be affected. Animals and people who have immune deficiencies have a higher chance of getting the disease.

When dogs get infected, the fungus spreads to different parts of the body, especially to the eyes and the central nervous system. The dog may lose weight, and become lethargic. When the eyes are affected, symptoms such as eye inflammation and retinal bleeding occur. Effects of the infection spreading to the central nervous system include facial paralysis that results in loss of eye blinking, head tilt, circling and lack of coordination. The dog may have seizures and nystagmus, a peculiar to and fro movement of the eyes. The disease may affect important organs like the liver, kidneys, spleen, pancreas, adrenal glands and the thyroid gland. Even the bones, muscles, and the digestive system are not spared.

Cryptococcosis is treated with antifungal medications; but the dogs may need long-term treatment extending months in case of severe disease. Surgical removal of nasal lesions may be necessary. If the nervous system is severely affected, the prognosis is poor.

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