By Suzanne F. Smith
It was only a few days before my Bravo Boy was to attend his training class at Petsmart when I noticed something was terribly wrong. Our Bravo Boy, then a six-month-old Chesapeake Bay Retriever, was usually full of energy and bouncy and devoured his puppy chow. But for some reason he was not eating, had developed a “gaggy” cough, and just seemed depressed. So right away we went to the vet who treated with antibiotics. But by the second antibiotic, Bravo could not take the pills so he was given an antibiotic shot. After a couple of days he still had a fever over 103.5 degrees, a cough, wouldn’t eat, and had lost five pounds. After chest x-rays, a blood test and urine test Bravo Boy was diagnosed with BLASTOMYCOSIS, a fungal infection in the lungs.
How do dogs get this illness? By sniffing and following a scent or digging in dirt or decaying wood they release spores into the air which they inhale—the fungus then grows in their lungs. (1) Thirty-five percent of dogs diagnosed with this illness die. Of those in treatment, fifteen percent die. And of those treated successfully, twenty-five percent will have a recurrence.(2) The spores can be widespread, and there is no vaccine for it. Prevention involves keeping dogs away from soil by waterways that has been disturbed and by keeping them from digging. (3)
The treatment involves an expensive antifungal medicine and getting him to eat enough to survive. We give Bravo Boy his meds in peanut butter because that’s the only way we can get it in him. We have tried every kind of food with him, but it was about three weeks before he ate anything and as a result lost over nine pounds. Since on the meds his cough has improved, and he is eating more. He’s been hand fed daily until recently just to keep him alive. He will be on the meds one year. Our collie-rescue dog Blue also has it but not as bad. He is also on the meds. Fortunately, it had not spread beyond the lungs in either dog. It can be in the eye and cause blindness, the joints, the skin, and elsewhere. (4) The prognosis then is very poor. (2)
There is a long period of restricted activity and recuperation in store for these two dogs with a lot of extra tender loving care. And the moral of this story is NO DIGGING!
- www.Petmd.com/dog/conditions/respiratory/c_multi_blastomycosisLast referenced 8/2/2012.
- http://www.canismajor.com/dog/blstomyc.html Last referenced 8/2/2012.
- www.blastomycosis.ca/doginfo.html Last referenced 8/2/2012.
- www.dogheirs.com/dogheirs/posts/1028-blastomycosis-in-dogs-symptoms-treatment-and-prevention Last referenced 8/4/2012.