What are Mucormycosis?
Most of the fungi that cause mucormycosis are found within the soil. Exposure to these funguses will depend on how much time your dog spends in heavily soiled areas that have decaying vegetation. The fungus will transfer from the soil to your dog’s coat and skin.
A biopsy can be done by your veterinarian to definitively diagnose mucormycosis in dogs. Aggressive treatments will need to begin immediately following diagnosis to give your dog the best chance of making a full recovery.
Mucormycosis is a collection of mold and fungal diseases and infections that affect dogs. The skin and the gastrointestinal tract are affected. Mucormycosis occurs when the fungus comes into contact with an injured or compromised dog and it begins to rapidly multiply. The fungus invades the walls of blood vessels and will reduce the blood flow and eventually block all blood flow to the tissues. This creates the tissue to begin decaying, causing widespread damage to the tissues. If not quickly diagnosed and properly treated, death will occur.
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Symptoms of Mucormycosis in Dogs
The symptoms of mucormycosis can occur mildly or severely depending on your dog’s immune system and their response to the infection. This condition can cause death if not treated quickly. Contact your veterinarian if you notice any of these symptoms:
- Development of nodules
- Pain in affected areas of the body
- Inflammation in affected areas of the body
- Pneumonia or other lung problems
- Lesions on the skin, sometimes draining and red
Causes of Mucormycosis in Dogs
Mucormycosis is a general class of fungi that will cause zygomycetes, pythiosis and lagenidiosis. It comes from the Mucoraceae family and is found worldwide. The fungi will feed on decaying organic material in the environment. It dwells within the soil and is easily transferred to your dog when they are outside. The fungi will attach to their coat and/or skin. Your dog can also become infected by inhaling the fungi spores or by eating a plant that has the fungi on it.
The gastrointestinal tract and the skin are affected by mucormycosis. The fungi invade your dog’s blood vessels, eventually stopping blood flow and causing the area to begin decaying from a lack of blood.
Diagnosis of Mucormycosis in Dogs
Your veterinarian will begin by asking you about the symptoms that you have seen and taking down a full medical history of your dog. They may also ask about your dog’s environment and the type of food your dog is currently eating, including any regular treats. A full physical examination will be completed, with your veterinarian paying close attention to any visible lesions on the skin and any localized pain that your dog may be experiencing. Your veterinarian will palpate your dog’s abdomen, feeling for any nodules or increased pain.
A urinalysis, fecal test, complete blood test and biochemistry profile may also be ordered to eliminate other possible causes of your dog’s symptoms. A biopsy of any skin lesions present may also be taken, looking for any mites or fungal infections. The biopsy will definitively diagnose mucormycosis in your dog and then a treatment plan can be set in place.
Treatment of Mucormycosis in Dogs
After the diagnosis has been made, your veterinarian will discuss treatment options for your dog. If your dog’s overall health has become severely debilitated from the infection, hospitalization will be recommended. While hospitalized, your dog will be continually monitored and be put on intravenous fluids as well as given nutritional therapy. In some instances, oxygen therapy may be required as well.
Antifungal medications will be prescribed. Your veterinarian may keep your dog on these antifungal medications for a long period of time to completely eradicate the fungi from your dog’s body. Antibiotics will be prescribed to stop the infection from spreading further and causing more harm to your dog. Your veterinarian will closely monitor your dog while they are taking antibiotics to ensure that your dog’s body is responding to the medication.
Surgery may be recommended when your dog is suffering from nodules in the skin. This will involve removing the entire nodule and any affected tissues surrounding the nodule. Post-surgery medications that may be prescribed for your dog include amphotericin B, benzimidazoles and potassium iodide.
Recovery of Mucormycosis in Dogs
Your dog’s recovery will strongly depend on how quickly the diagnosis was made and treatments begun. Aggressive treatments will many times produce good results and your dog’s prognosis should be good. Once your veterinarian determines how well your dog is responding to treatments, they will have a more accurate diagnosis.
Be sure to follow all instructions given by your veterinarian as directed. Give medications according to the directions and if you have any questions regarding your dog’s care, contact your veterinarian.