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Cryptococcosis In Dogs

Cryptococcosis In Dogs

Cryptococcosis is a systemic yeastlike, opportunistic, non-contagious fungal infection caused by the saprophytic fungus Cryptococcus neoformans. There have been up to eight genotypes recognized of Cryptococcus, including Cryptococcus neoformans and Cryptococcus gattii. VN I, a type of c. neoformans, is the type that most commonly infects dogs.

Cryptococcosis appears most commonly in certain geographic locations having moist, acidic soil that is rich in organic matter. (E.g. rotting logs and vegetation), areas with heavier rainfall and bird droppings (particularly those of pigeons).

Dogs contract infection after breathing in the infective spores of fungus in the environment. After infection, the organism transforms to yeast at normal canine body temperature and begins to infect the lungs, and spread systemically.

Cryptococcosis occurs more frequently in cats and the disease is rarely reported in dogs. The tendency for the dogs to poke their noses in the soil or follow a scent trail may play a role in infection. Airborne fungal spores of contaminated soil get disturbed and the dog inhales the spore. Cryptococcosis from dogs to humans is not yet reported.

Symptoms Of Cryptococcosis

Early Stages

  • Coughing
  • Labored breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Nasal discharge - thick, green, yellow, or bloody

Advanced stage

  • Vomitingand diarrhea
  • Inflammation of the eyes or sudden onset of blindness
  • Nasal granuloma or Lesions in the nasal cavity
  • Draining skin lesions
  • Nose bleeds
  • Meningoencephalitis, or inflammation of the brain and meninges
  • Anorexia
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • finally becomes systemic - spreading through blood and lymph to abdominal organs and lungs
  • Lack of appetite
  • Enlarged lymph nodes

Treatment Options For Cryptococcosis

Commonly used Anti-fungal agents are azole antifungals including itraconazole, fluconazole, voriconazole and ketoconazole. They have relatively few side effects and are well-tolerated by most dogs.

Treatment of Cryptococcosis requires long-term medications (2-6 months in most cases)

Amphotericin B (Abelcet -The Liposome Company) is the "gold standard" of antifungal drugs

Ketoconazole (less expensive than the other azole antifungals) or a combination of medications may also be used in certain cases.

Home Remedies For Cryptococcosis

Work with your vet to find the optimal dietary plan for your dog.

Home remedies such as herbs, diet, and exercise will depend on your dog's age and stage of the disease they are in.

Prevention Of Cryptococcosis

  • Sadly, there is nothing we can do to get rid of this dimorphic fungus from the environment as they are widespread.
  • Avoid the Fungal Hotspots are forests, wooded areas, camps, hunting areas, and overgrown bushes. In addition, when your dog's immune system is already compromised, stay away from trips to these high-risk areas.
  • Cut down the access of dogs to swamps or near water bodies where there is Decayed organic material and foliages, especially when the soil remains damp all the time and not exposed to sunlight.

Affected Breeds Of Cryptococcosis

There is no breed disposition.

Young, large-breed dogs especially Sporting dogs, hound breeds, and hunting dogs.

Proximity to water bodies is a significant risk factor for affected dogs.

Additional Facts For Cryptococcosis

1. Causes:

Cryptococcosis is considered an opportunistic pathogen, and dogs that have suppressed or compromised immune systems are highly susceptible.

The dimorphic fungi shed microscopic spores that float in the air and when inhaled, they sometimes evade or bypass the dog’s protective respiratory mechanisms and can cause disease.

Systemic Infections: The fungus enters the respiratory tract and via the bloodstream, travels to other organs such as the nervous system, bone, muscle, heart, etc. This creates more severe systemic or generalized fungal infection.

2. Morbidity:

  1. Large breed dogs with outdoor access living in endemic regions are at higher risk.
  2. Hunting, sporting dogs in close proximity to swamps, overturned soil (i.e., farms, construction sites) or bodies of water seem to be predisposed to the disease.
  3. Canine cryptococcosis is not spread from animal to animal and is not contagious.
  4. Most cases of cryptococcosis are diagnosed in early fall or late summer in the endemic regions.

3. Mortality:

Cryptococcosis is a destructive disease with a high case fatality rate in puppies and leading to long-term complications. If the central nervous system is involved, the mortality rate will be higher.

4. Diagnosis:

  • Blood and urine cultures
  • Specific blood tests to detect Cryptococcus
  • Skin lesions biopsy
  • A culture of eye/nose discharge
  • Spinal tap- if pets show neurologic signs
  • X-rays, ultrasound, or CT scan

5. Prognosis:

The prognosis for Cryptococcosis is really good. Most dogs undergoing treatment will recover within a few weeks. The chances of recovery of Dogs that have disseminated Cryptococcosis are guarded due to the damage to the vital organs. If left untreated, severe cases of Cryptococcosis can be fatal for dogs, so head to your vet immediately.

When To See A Vet

It’s better to set up an appointment with your veterinarian if you notice-

  • Nasal discharge - thick, green, yellow, or bloody
  • Draining skin lesions
  • Nose bleeds

Food Suggestions For Cryptococcosis

Foods to avoid:

  • Luncheon meat, bacon.
  • Bread and baked goods.
  • Sour cream, soft cheese, and Yogurt.
  • 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.


While the possibility to get cryptococcosis from your dog is potentially not possible, it is less likely if you practice good personal hygiene.

For cases with localized infections, the prognosis is generally good. About 25% of affected dogs relapse once treatment is finished.

The prognosis for systemic cryptococcosis varies inversely with delay in detection, severity, and evidence of the failure of vital organs.

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