What is Aspergillosis In Dogs?
Aspergillosis (often being used interchangeably with ’fungal rhinitis’) is an infection, growth, or allergic response caused by an opportunistic pathogen called Aspergillus fungus. This fungus grows on compost piles, stored grains, dead leaves, or other decomposing vegetation.
The Aspergillus species includes more than 180 types of lacy, fluffy molds that occur widely indoor and outdoor environments.
Viewed under the microscope, Aspergillus looks like a fine-looking flower. The fungus sheds microscopic spores (called conidia) that float in the air to infect a host when inhaled or colonizing organic matter.
Although most the molds are harmless, a few can systemic problems (affecting many different body systems) for people or pets with asthma, underlying lung disease, or a weakened immune system.
There are two common types of canine Aspergillus infection:
- Nasal (most common form - usually caused by Aspergillus fumigatus)
- Systemic (travels to other organs via the bloodstream- caused by Aspergillus terreus)
The recently discovered Aspergillus Felis attacks an already highly compromised immune system.
Symptoms Of Aspergillosis In Dogs
- Creamy or green/greenish yellow nasal discharge. Blood can sometimes be seen within the nasal discharge
- Ulcers around the nostrils.
- Nose bleeds (epistaxis)
- Visibly swollen nose
- Hypopigmentation/ depigmentation of the nasal planum(Dudley nose- Pale discolouration of areas of the front of the nose)
- Signs that the dog is becoming head-shy
- Discomfort on palpation of the nose
- Reverse sneezing
Treatment Options For Aspergillosis In Dogs
Treatment of nasal aspergillosis:
- A 1% bifonazole with enilconazole or 1% solution of clotrimazole (topical antifungal agent), is infused into the nose using a Foley catheter. The solution incubates for an hour so that it contacts all of the surfaces of the sinuses. After 1 hour, the solution is drained out or suctioned through the nostrils. This treatment is highly effective with a high success rate has been reported.
- When the infection has eroded through the bones of the nasal sinuses and has entered the brain, treatment with oral antifungal medication, such as fluconazole (brand name Diflucan), terbinafine (Lamisil), or itraconazole (Itrafungol, Sporanox) is required. Treatment is of longer duration and 70% success rate has been reported.
Treatment of systemic aspergillosis:
Earlier antifungal drug - Amphotericin B (AmBisome, Abelcet, Fungizone) was used.
They are replaced by newer antifungal drugs due to their high potential to cause kidney damage. However, many of these newer drugs are less effective against aspergillosis.
Sometimes, amphotericin B is encapsulated in liposomes (fatty envelopes formed by hydrated phospholipids) or other lipid formulations to reduce the damaging side effects to the kidneys.
Long-term treatment: itraconazole (Sporanox and Itrafungol) has proven successful nowadays
Home Remedies For Aspergillosis In Dogs
- Relieve your dog’s nose with natural, organic ingredients found in Nozzle Nectar or Snout Soother.
- Flush your dog’s sinuses with a saline flush to flush out mucus. This allows your dog to breathe easier.
- Run a humidifier or place a vaporizer in the area your dog to increase air moisture and humidity.
- When you take a hot shower, you can bring your dog into the bathroom.
- Use a bulb syringe or nasal aspirator to softly suck out or remove excess mucus inside of your dog’s nose.
- Check with your vet for antihistamines usage (like Benadryl and Zyrtec) to help alleviate your dog’s runny nose
How to Prevent Aspergillosis In Dogs?
- Check and dispose overflowing waste bins and trash in the backyard carefully
- When going for walks, keep your dog away from rotting plant matter, dead leaves and other decayed substances in the woods
- Maintain your lawn or garden. Keep it neat and clean to avoid unwanted pests
- Ask your vet for good quality flea and tick preventatives
- Feed a high quality food and exercise regularly
Affected Dog Breeds Of Aspergillosis
Additional Facts For Aspergillosis In Dogs
- Aspergillusis considered an opportunistic pathogen, and dogs that have suppressed or compromised immune systems are highly susceptible.
- Aspergillus fungi shed microscopic spores (conidia) that float in the air and when inhaled, they sometimes evade or bypass a dog’s protective respiratory mechanisms and can cause disease.
- The most commonly diagnosed form of aspergillosis in dogs is Nasal aspergillosis. Most cases of nasal aspergillosis are invasive which means the funguses damage the delicate bones of the sinuses.
- Aspergilloma (referred to as a 'fungal plaque') is, less common and less invasive forms of nasal aspergillosis that produce an accumulation of mucous and fungus.
- Systemic (disseminated aspergillosis), the Aspergillus terreus fungus enters the respiratory tract and via the bloodstream, travels to other organs creating a more severe systemic or generalized fungal infection. According to some studies, German Shepherd Dogs are rpone to systemic aspergillosis.
When To See A Vet For Aspergillosis In Dogs?
Generally, the diagnosis of Aspergillosis could be confusing considering the symptoms are similar to a sinus infection. Yes, dogs also get sinus infections like humans.
Treatment of Aspergillosis is dependent on proper identification.
Dog Food Suggestions For Aspergillosis
Foods to avoid:
- Luncheon meat, bacon
- Bread and baked goods
- Sour cream, soft cheese, and Yoghurt
- Peanut butter, nuts, and legumes
- Jams and jellies
- Highly processed pet food
- Starch as an additive or binding agent
- High fructose corn syrup additives
What to feed?
- Whole, unprocessed foods
- Fresh food
- Low-carb dog food
- Probiotics and digestive enzymes
- Fresh, lean protein
- Add oregano or basil to their diet
- Animal Essentials Detox Blend: (combination of herbs suspended in glycerine)
- This will help your dog detox
- Raw diet, Semi-Homemade Food (commercial homemade diet with a dehydrated formula) or home-cooked meals
Aspergillosis bland diet
- 400gms of Chicken breast or extra-lean ground beef or turkey breast
- 1 and 1/2 cups white rice
- This is enough for 4-5 meals for a medium-sized dog
- Cook rice and meat separately
- When meat is cooked, pour through a colander to remove any water and fat
- Mix on a 50/50 ratio. And Serve in 70/30 proportions
Aspergillosis Treatment is centered on the effective diagnosis of the aetiology.
For cases with localized nasal aspergillosis, the prognosis is generally good.
The prognosis for systemic aspergillosis varies inversely with delay in detection, severity, and evidence of sinus destruction.