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Pneumonia (Fungal) in Dogs

Fungal Pneumonia in Dogs

Fungal pneumonia in dogs arises from a deep fungal infection, known as a mycotic infection, causing inflammation in the lungs. The inflammation can affect the interstitial tissues, lymphatic vessels, or peribronchial tissues of the lung.

While fungal pneumonia can occur in both dogs and cats, it’s less common in felines. Certain dog breeds, such as German Shepherds, seem to be more prone to fungal diseases, with Aspergillus fungus posing a particular risk. Male dogs are affected at a rate of two to four times that of females.

Symptoms and Types

Fungal pneumonia manifests with various symptoms, including a history of reduced appetite leading to weight loss, fever, nasal or ocular discharge, coughing, breathing difficulties, lameness, and potential eye issues, which could escalate to sudden blindness. A physical examination might detect signs of depression, weight loss, and crackling sounds in the lungs during respiration.

Causes

Various fungi, including Blastomyces, Histoplasma, and Aspergillus, can instigate mycotic (deep fungal) infections, leading to fungal pneumonia. Geographically, the distribution of fungal pneumonia varies due to the differing habitats of these fungi across the United States. For instance, Blastomycosis, caused by Blastomyces, predominantly occurs in the Southeast and Midwest, while Aspergillosis, attributed to Aspergillus, is prevalent nationwide.

Contact with any of these fungi capable of triggering mycotic infection may result in fungal pneumonia, although the mode of transmission varies depending on the particular fungus. Blastomyces dermatitidis, for example, primarily infiltrates the body through inhalation into the lungs, whereas Cryptococcus neoformans typically enters through the nasal cavity before spreading to the eyes and/or central nervous system.

Exposure to environments containing the fungi responsible for fungal pneumonia increases the likelihood of contracting the disease. Therefore, contact with soils abundant in organic matter, bird droppings, or fecal matter heightens the risk of infection.

Diagnosis

The conclusive diagnosis of fungal pneumonia entails identifying the potential organism by analyzing a skin nodule sample or biopsy of a lymph node. Additional diagnostic measures may involve urine analysis, chest and lung radiographs, and abdominal ultrasounds.

In cases where fungal pneumonia is not the underlying cause of the dog’s symptoms, other types of pneumonia, like parasitic or bacterial-induced pneumonia, might be responsible. Alternative diagnoses may include chronic bronchial disease or pulmonary edema.

Treatment

If your dog maintains its appetite, your veterinarian will prescribe medication for home administration. However, if severe symptoms emerge, such as significant weight loss from anorexia and dehydration, hospitalization might be necessary to stabilize your dog for further treatment. Treatment may involve administering fluids, potassium, oxygen, and antibiotics as needed.

It’s important to note that fewer than 70 percent of dogs, and an even smaller percentage of cats, are likely to respond positively to treatment for fungal pneumonia. Treatment can be costly and typically spans a minimum of two months. However, the specific treatment and duration depend on the type of fungus responsible for the illness.

Recovery and Management

To prevent dehydration, ensure the dog receives ample fluids and limit its physical activity. It’s advisable to provide a high-protein diet consisting of calorically dense food. Administer all medications regularly as prescribed by the veterinarian for the entire duration of treatment. Regular checkups are essential, including thoracic X-ray imaging, before completing the treatment regimen.

Prevention

To prevent fungal pneumonia, it is recommended to clean your dog’s living environment regularly to remove feces or other potentially toxic organic matter.

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