Fungal Infection in Dogs
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When the year heats up in spring and summer, all of the fun in the sun also has certain drawbacks with your pets. The hotter temperature can mean conditions for skin problems can become prominent. This is not to say that they can't occur at colder times of the year either. Lesions on your dog's skin can come from many different origins; external parasites such as fleas and ticks, skin allergies or even immunity problems. A fungal infection is just one of the possible reasons your dog's skin is so irritated.
Unless we have a veterinarian in the family, it can be difficult to discern which is which and achieve an appropriate diagnosis. To ensure there is no doubt, going to the vet to achieve this diagnosis is necessary. Sometimes they may be able to reach an accurate diagnosis through examination only. Often they may need to take a skin sample, blood test or conduct some other sort of test to know which course of treatment to proceed upon.
This AnimalWised article doesn't have enough space to go through all the possible fungal infections your dog can contract. However, we can give you some of the general symptoms and treatment of fungal infection in dogs to help recognize the problem to take action in the first place.
Symptoms of fungal infection in dogs
The first thing to understand is that, regardless of the type of fungal infection in our dog, the issue we face is a topical one. This doesn't mean it is part of the current zeitgeist. Instead, we mean it is one which affects the outer superficial layers of skin. It does so by first colonizing the skin are and then reproducing, often very quickly, until the infection has set in. The symptoms can indeed vary, but there are some which are common to most types of fungus which may infect your dog's skin. These include:
- Constant itching
- Loss of hair in certain places
- Skin flaking, often appearing as dandruff
- Skin inflamed, reddened or hardened
- Color changes to the skin
- Nail injuries
- In severe cases the dog will be anxious and constantly irritated
Diagnosis of fungal infection in dogs
The diagnosis a vet will make is very simple. First, before a visual inspection of the lesions, the veterinarian might use something known as a wood lamp. This is a special UV radiating lamp which comes with a wood filter. It is designed to inspect skin for mites as well as bacterial or fungal infection. This will help at the very least locate the areas which need to be inspected further. Once the spot is located, samples can be taken.
The samples are always taken from the peripheral area of the lesion. If the dog has many lesions, the sample is usually taken from the newer ones or the ones which seem to be in the greatest state of infection. In general, the oldest ones are most contaminated with other pathogens. They will likely clean the lesion with disinfectant before taking a sample so that they can get to the root of the infection.
The samples are of either skin, nails or hair. However, hair and skin are the most common types of sample taken. The hairs are usually plucked to achieve a proper diagnosis, not cut as they will not have the full extent of the infection. The peripheral area of a skin legion is better than the center as it will not be properly representative.
Once the sample has been appropriately obtained by the veterinarian, there are a few procedures used to achieve a diagnosis. Direct examination under a microscope is possible, but not the ideal as it can unfortunately achieve doubts and false positives. The most used method is to create a culture. They are the most accurate methods of diagnosis and can be used to see which antibiotics might be resistant to a particular fungus. Usually, however, this method involves sending the sample to a laboratory as the vet may not have the right equipment to analyze it in their clinic.
Tips to keep in mind if your dog has a fungal infection
We have discussed above the importance of taking a dog with a suspected fungal infection to the vet where and accurate diagnosis can be made. However, before you have the chance to take them to the vet and you suspect a fungal infection, there are some tips which may prevent the situation from worsening:
- Do not bath the dog too often as this can create an ideal environment for the fungus to proliferate. This may seem counterintuitive as their skin looks dirty, but you can wipe this dirt away instead if you are worried.
- Keep infected dogs away from other animals or members of the family home. This is because the fungus can spread. Especially refrain from letting them sleep in the same place together.
- There are fungi which can be transferred to humans (such as ringworm) so be hyper-vigilant and ensure to wash your hands with antibacterial soap every time you touch them.
- If you travel by car or have any communal areas where the dog might sit, ensure you lay down a blanket or protector and wash after use.
Possible treatment of fungal infections in dogs
There are different types of treatment for fungal infections in dogs, both conventional allopathic treatment and home remedies. However, always go with the recommendation of a trusted vet as their expertise and experience will take precedence. Here we will take a look at some of the options available:
- Allopathic treatment: the main medical treatment of fungal infections in dogs include corticoids, antibiotics or a mixture of both. These can be topical applications which are found in ointments or lotions as well as traditional oral antibiotic medicine. Only your vet can prescribe this medicine, so take your dog to the vet and do not give them other drugs you may be in possession of. The vet will recommend the best course of treatment, including dosage and timeline.
- Homeopathic treatment: there are some homeopathic treatments or home remedies available for fungal infections in dogs. The idea for most of them is that they will bring balance to your dog. Their effectiveness is not often backed up with conclusive scientific evidence and are certainly not recommended in extreme cases of infection.
- Healthy eating: in minor cases of fungal infection in dogs, it is possible that a change of diet can help them to build up their immune system and fight the infection this way. However, this will risk spread of the infection and are likely to prolong its length. It is better to include this in conjunction with more effective therapies as a means to help stave off other infections in the future.
If your dog does have a fungal infection, it is important to not only treat the condition, but ensure prevention of it coming back. This means minimizing the areas the dog stays in (although still allowing for exercise), keeping them away from other animals and not letting them spread the fungus to other areas. Thoroughly wash, properly dispose of or destroy blankets and fabrics with which the dog comes in contact.
Spreading fungus to humans
Preventing your dog from having a relapse of fungal infection is important, but protecting the spread of this fungus is important for other reasons. Not all disease from which a dog suffers can be passed on to humans, but fungal infections are unfortunately one of them. They can also be passed on to other dogs as well as animals of a different species such as cats or guinea pigs.
Cross contamination of fungal infections can occur from direct contact, but also through peeled skin or infected pieces of fur. Ensuring your dog has limited contact throughout the treatment of the infection is important as it will help maintain the health of the rest of your family members.
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to Fungal Infection in Dogs, we recommend you visit our Bacterial diseases category.