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Fungal Toxicosis Related To Aspergillus flavus, A. parasiticus, and Penicillium puberulum Fungi In Dogs

Mycotoxicosis-Aflatoxin Toxicity in Dogs

Aflatoxin toxicity in dogs, also known as mycotoxicosis, is a medical condition caused by a fungal toxin that primarily affects the liver of canines. The fungi Aspergillus flavus, A. parasiticus, and Penicillium puberulum are responsible for transmitting aflatoxin. The condition tends to arise in regions with humid climates, where grain-based foods are prone to moisture exposure. It can also occur when contaminated grains, inadequately stored and exposed to moisture, are used in feed production. Occasionally, outbreaks have been linked to contaminated grains utilized in the manufacturing of commercial dog foods.

Mycotoxicosis-aflatoxin toxicity exclusively affects dogs, with no reported cases in cats, and occurrences are infrequent. Susceptibility may be higher among young male dogs and pregnant females, with outdoor dogs being potentially more at risk.

Symptoms and Types

The symptoms and types of mycotoxicosis-aflatoxin vary based on the dose and timing of ingestion. Acute symptoms, which manifest suddenly, include anorexia, weight loss, hemorrhage, and ascites—an accumulation of fluid in the abdomen’s peritoneal cavity. In severe cases, acute symptoms may result in sudden death.

Chronic symptoms, occurring over the long term, encompass anorexia, weight loss, depression, liver failure, and coagulopathy, a disorder affecting blood clotting. Mycotoxicosis-aflatoxin is a grave condition that, if untreated, can lead to persistent liver dysfunction. Despite treatment, the prognosis remains bleak for dogs diagnosed with this ailment.

Causes

Mycotoxicosis-aflatoxin stems from the consumption of grain-based foods contaminated by fungi such as Aspergillus flavus, A. parasiticus, or Penicillium puberulum. When dogs ingest contaminated grain-based feeds, they may trigger a toxic reaction in the liver, involving the P450 enzyme. Visible signs of mold and spoilage in foods serve as clear indicators that a dog might have ingested a toxic fungus. Dogs spending significant time outdoors face heightened risks of exposure.

Diagnosis

During the diagnosis process, your veterinarian will conduct a comprehensive physical examination of your dog, considering the history of symptoms and potential incidents linked to the condition. It’s crucial to differentiate mycotoxicosis-aflatoxin toxicity from other ailments displaying liver disease and coagulopathy symptoms. For this purpose, a liver biopsy may be necessary to rule out alternative diagnoses like liver disease, accompanied by a coagulation profile assessment.

The primary diagnostic method for mycotoxicosis-aflatoxin toxicity involves a urine analysis for the presence of the aflatoxin metabolite (Aflatoxin M1). Additionally, examining food samples for aflatoxin traces may prove beneficial if you have access to samples of the food your dog consumed recently.

Treatment

The treatment approach for mycotoxicosis-aflatoxin toxicity focuses on alleviating liver stress. Your dog’s diet should consist of high-quality protein and include a source of dietary glucose like corn syrup, following your veterinarian’s dietary recommendations closely. Intravenous (IV) fluids may be necessary if your dog experiences anorexia and weight loss. Occasionally, medications such as heparin may be prescribed to address the coagulation disorder, but any drugs requiring liver metabolism will be avoided to prevent additional strain on liver function.

Living and Management

Ensure regular administration of any prescribed medications and adhere to your veterinarian’s dietary guidelines. As mentioned earlier, maintaining a diet rich in high-quality protein and supplemented with dietary glucose is essential.

Prevention

To prevent mycotoxicosis-aflatoxin in your dog, refrain from feeding them visibly moldy foods, as they could be tainted with these harmful fungi. Store feed dishes in clean, dry areas to prevent moisture accumulation, and routinely clean feed dispensers to minimize moisture and contamination risks. Prevention is key, given that even with treatment, the prognosis remains unfavorable for dogs affected by mycotoxicosis-aflatoxin.

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