Fungal infections, or, as they are called, dermatophytoses, are quite common. The fungus can occur in a dog under any circumstances, even in good conditions. Young animals are not insured against fungus. Fortunately for dog breeders, the fungus can be cured. All the owner needs is to visit the vet as soon as possible.
The types of fungi are quite diverse, but only some of them are dangerous for dogs. Thus, a yeast fungus, which in limited quantities enters the healthy microflora of the dog’s body, does not harm it until the phase of active growth of microorganisms begins. An excessive amount of them can also adversely affect the state of the animal’s body. There is also a category of fungi, as opportunistic. They do not pose a danger to the health of the animal, unless the dog is weakened by any disease.
The mechanism of reproduction of the fungus is the deep penetration of infection into the epidermis and damage to the hair follicles. The skin that is affected by the fungus gradually becomes vulnerable to bacteria and the effects of other protozoa organisms. The dog can infect both other animals (if there are any in the house) and people. Such a danger arises from the fact that mycelium filaments are constantly peeling off the coat of an infected animal.
Animal owners should also take into account the fact that most often young dogs, animals with weak immunity, or individuals who have been exposed to potent drugs suffer from fungal infections. Also, the probability of infection depends largely on the hereditary predisposition and individual characteristics of the organism.
As mentioned earlier, the fungus is a very common disease. A healthy dog can become infected from a carrier dog, for example, by walking on grass that may have an infection, or even from a host who is fully capable of bringing fungus on shoes or clothing. But most often dogs get sick because of weak immunity or because of a genetic predisposition to the effects of various varieties of these microorganisms.
Causes of fungus in dogs
In general, the formation of the fungus is promoted by such factors as disturbances of a balanced diet, as well as excessive humidity in the room where the dog is kept. Microorganisms multiply on the epidermis with a sufficiently high speed, as a result of which it becomes unable to open the pores due to the formed tangles and the untidy state of the coat as a whole. Conversely, if the dog is too often bathed, exposure to shampoo can reduce the protection of the skin, which, in turn, can also lead to the danger of developing a fungus.
In general, the factors and causes contributing to the occurrence of the disease are many. Moreover, even if you follow all the rules of prevention and precaution, there is still a risk that the dog will fall ill. Therefore, it is extremely important to contact a specialist at the first signs, because the fungal infection multiplies extremely quickly, while attacking the immune system of the dog’s body. In this way, the animal risks catching many more diseases.
Signs of fungus in dogs and its course
- Local or almost complete baldness. The most common sign of the fungus is the appearance of a bald spot on the dog’s coat, from which the development of the disease usually begins. There may be several spots, and their size may vary depending on the extent of the lesion of the dermis. The speed of their distribution also depends on many factors, for example, on the strength of the dog’s immunity, the type of fungus and the conditions of the animal. Experts note that the paws, head, nose, the area behind the ears or the cervical region are the first to suffer, which, however, does not mean that bald patches on other parts of the dog’s body do not require an examination by a veterinarian. Usually, the wool either drops out completely and leads to the complete alopecia of a specific skin area, or the hairs simply break at the base and create the effect of bristles. The skin becomes gray or reddish. If you look closely, you can find a grayish coat at the hair roots. There may also be visible particles of exfoliating skin, which are either freely separated from the surface of the body, or tightly adhere to it. Since the fungus in dogs can reproduce not only on the surface of the skin, but also inside the body, this can cause some complications. A running case is usually considered the occurrence of extensive bald spots on the back and sides of the dog (and the skin becomes rougher, trying to maintain protection). In some situations, even complete temporary alopecia of the animal may be observed. It is worth considering that sometimes bald areas appear even on the nose and on the bends of the joints. If the dog is long-haired, to notice such bald spots is very difficult. Such signs appear when the dog is generally resistant to the fungus, but this is still not enough to fully resist the disease (or if the type of fungus is conditionally pathogenic). But if any disorder of immunity happens, the fungal infection can go into the activation period and manifest itself.
- Intense persistent itching. The next typical sign of the presence of a fungus is itching. The degree of impact of this clinical sign can be different, from mild to severe scratching of the dog’s skin to blood. However, dog owners should also take into account the fact that itching is not always a reason to say that a dog is sick with a fungus, as it can scratch itself for various reasons (fleas, dermatitis, etc.). If the animal severely damaged the skin, breaking it up, it is worth treating the wounds with an antiseptic. The physician must be aware that the owner has treated the dog’s skin – the place that has been disinfected cannot be diagnosed. One should be attentive even to such small areas as interdigital space, areas near claws and lower paw area – sometimes the fungus does not reach large parts of the dog’s body, remaining almost imperceptible. The skin in such places becomes denser and rougher, gradually cracking and blushing. Claws change color and deform. The dog may feel so painful that it stops stepping on the sore paw altogether. To protect the animal from further deterioration of the general condition, you need to wear soft shoes on the dog’s feet, and if the pet is going for a walk, to dry the paws after water procedures. Do not allow the dog to nibble or comb the affected areas.
- Change the appearance of hair. The dog’s coat may be in its usual state, but occasionally crumbling, later dim and confused, look dirty a couple of days after water procedures. Dog breeders usually believe that the reason lies in the change of food or means for washing, but any changes in the procedure or method of carrying out cosmetic procedures almost never have such an effect.
Diagnosis and treatment
The first action that the doctor performs is lighting a dog’s hair with a lamp specially designed for diagnosis. The fungus in its light gleams in a greenish tint. However, this does not always help to differentiate the disease – about a third of all types of fungus do not give luminescence.
That is why the doctor must conduct a detailed analysis to determine the type of fungus (this avoids the scenario in which treatment is delayed for months and years). This analysis includes data on the amount of fungus, the dog’s susceptibility to drugs, the rate of spread of infection, and so on. For example, if an animal is predisposed to develop cocci, and the fungus is a side disease, it can only be eliminated by treating the initial problem.
If the doctor immediately recommends ointments and pills, not having conducted a deep analysis, the treatment can drag on for years. Therefore, the owner must either insist on a thorough analysis of the scraping, or turn to another, more attentive specialist.
Also in the process of diagnosis should take into account the fact that the skin may be inflamed and due to allergies. If the allergy is the root cause, the fungus in dogs can appear periodically for several years, even after a seemingly successful treatment. In such a situation, it is also necessary to eliminate the root cause, and only then prescribe symptomatic treatment.
In dogs with congenital abnormalities, it is required to determine the state of the organism as a whole. Anamnesis will show if there are any errors in the work of any organs.
The structure of the treatment of the fungus is similar in almost all cases, with the exception of some details that are determined by the veterinarian through examination. The therapy includes ointments (mycozolon, clotrimazole) or solutions. If the area of baldness is large enough, it is dangerous to use ointments – the substances that make up them can even more traumatize the dog, since they belong to the category of toxic. In such cases, you can use special shampoos (imaverol, nizoral) and drugs against the fungus (pills or vaccination). To protect the body from potent drugs used immunomodulators or stimulants.
It is important to clarify whether the fungus with which the dog is infected is not harmful to people or other animals. If yes, then when processing the wool of the animal, be sure to wear gloves. If possible, isolate the dog in another room or aviary – but do not allow her to be alone, as stress can affect immunity.
The fungal infection is able to mutate and adapt. If the combination of drugs is chosen personally by the owner of the dog, and not by a specialist, there is a risk that they will only make the fungus more sustainable. So, a visit to the vet is a prerequisite for the complete cure of the animal.
Prevention of fungal infections
Preventive measures are quite simple – you need to maintain the hygiene of the environment of the dog. It is also not worth walking with animals in places where there are clusters of stray dogs. In addition, owners must comply with all generally accepted rules of nutrition, as well as properly distribute the physical load of their pet.
Remember that vaccination in most cases does not bring the expected result, and in certain situations it can only complicate the situation. In general, saving an animal from a fungal infection is quite difficult, but timely and regular visits to the vet will help you to avoid many of the unpleasant consequences of this disease.