Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Blastomycosis: Kane's Lost Battle

Fungal infections usually don't get much attention. Yet, they can be just as bad as cancer.

Photo pixabay

You'd expect a fungal infection being a skin problem, such as yeast infection or ringworm. Things get really serious when a fungal infection attacks the inside of the body, such as sinuses or even lungs and elsewhere.

The top 5 common fungal diseases in dogs are Aspergillosis, Histoplasmosis (Ohio River Valley Fever), Coccidiomycosis (Valley Fever), Cryptococcus, and Blastomycosis.

Systemic infection requires aggressive treatment, and the outcome isn't always favorable.


Fungi love it wet and with the amount of rain we had in our area, there has been a spike in Blastomycosis infections.

"Blastomycosis is a fungal organism that lives in the soil. During dry seasons it rests mostly inactive, but when the soil becomes wet or flooded it begins to sporulate. It is most often inhaled by dogs who have their noses 'in the dirt' - chasing frogs and other swamp creatures. It is not a coincidence that the majority of our cases are Labradors." ~Walded Animal Hospital

The embedded article is a sad story of Kane, who has lost his battle with this infection. My heart breaks for Kane.



Above you can see Kane's x-rays. Kane was a very healthy two-year-old Labrador, full of life. The infection struck him hard and quickly out of the blue.

"In the images, his lungs are full of patchy white blotches - all areas where the fungal organism is attacking. This is no bacterial infection that will go away with antibiotics. It is as bad as having an agressive cancer, requiring very strong anti fungal medications and sadly, we don't always win." ~Walden Animal Hospital

Cookie loves to hunt mice, dig in the dirt and chase frogs. I don't think I can stop her from doing that, nor we have any areas around here with zero risk. This gives me one more thing to worry about.

One somewhat comforting thing is that, according to petMD, the disease occurs most frequently in male dogs. Which seems strange, because dogs get infected by inhaling the spores, though it can enter through the skin also. What gives?

Female dogs can get also infected but apparently not as easily.


I cannot stop Cookie from living her life, nor she would want me to. To some degree, I can be more selective about where I let her play and hunt. The fungus can be found in environments such as farms, forests, wooded areas, camps, and hunting areas. Which around here means anywhere.

Depending on where the infection takes hold, symptoms can include the following:

  • fever
  • loss of appetite
  • eye discharge or inflammation
  • coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing
  • skin lesions and wounds that don't want to heal


Knowing about the increased risk, I will rush to a vet with the slightest suspicion, even faster than usual. That's about all I can practically do. And pray, of course.

Further reading:
Fungal Infection (Blastomycosis) in Dogs
Blastomycosis Screening in Dogs?




Do you have a story to share?

Your story can help others, maybe even save a life!


What were the first signs you noticed? How did your dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?

Email me, I'll be happy to hear from you.




Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog now available in paperback and Kindle. Each chapter includes notes on when it is an emergency.

30 comments

  1. Wow! I did not know about this, the causes and the effects of Blastomycosis. It's very scary and I find it very interesting that more male dogs are effected than female. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

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    1. Systemic fungal infections are nasty because the treatment is quite harsh and not always effective. Fungi are very resilient.

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  2. wow, I had no idea about this type of fungal infection. I knew about a couple of the other ones mentioned including ring worm and yeast. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Yes, the ones that affect the skin are quite well known. But systemic infections are possible too, unfortunately.

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  3. Ok I made a note, and I'm totally going to watch out to do the right things to recover.

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    1. Hopefully you'll never need to know about this.

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  4. I didn't know anything about this, this is so scary. One more reason for me not to want to let my guys out there...Thanks for the info

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    1. Well, we gotta let them live their lives. If it was up to me I'd keep Cookie in some sort of a bubble too but what kind of life would that be? I know what she'd choose if she had a say. Hopefully we don't even have there right where we are or hopefully her immune system would be able to handle it. And I'll be extra careful with any suspicious signs. But I owe it to her to let her live her life.

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  5. Holy cow! My dogs are always digging in the dirt. :( This is a new thing to worry about! UGH.

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    1. Not every dirt has it, of course. Depends on the area and conditions and perhaps the kind of dirt too. Gotta love having something new to worry about, huh?

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  6. Oh wow.. that is terrible. Poor Kane. His family must have been beside themselves. Of course this is prevalent in all of the areas we love to adventure in with the pups. Like you said, you can't stop them from living, but I will definitely be more mindful. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. One cannot prevent everything no matter how careful we are. Short of putting out dogs into some kind of a protective bubble there is only so much we can do and allow them have a life at the same time. I'm not happy about these cases popping up around here but hopefully it will not happen to Cookie.

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  7. Wow! I never knew about this. Another reason for a pet mom (or dad) to be extra observant when their animals are outside.

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    1. It's not like you can actually see this one; some fungi are visible, some are too small ... I will be extra cautious bout any sort of a cough or suspicious signs.

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  8. This is a new disease to me, I admit. UGH! So much invisible nastiness out there for pets to get into. Hope you never have to contend with this, with any dog! That poor, poor person whose dog could not be saved. :(

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    1. It's not new to me but the fact that cases are popping in our area is new.

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  9. I know two people who live near me whose dogs got it. One was my bosses Jack Russell terrier who recovered after and extensive round of treatment. My boss helps manage a stable and kennel for fox hunting and his dogs frequently go with him. The other case was an old acquaintance that I saw at the ophthalmologist vet. Her dog got blastomycosis in the eye and it really looked nasty. I'd be surprised if recovered his sight. Blastomycosis is nasty and you can't predict where it will be.

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    1. So sorry about those poor guys. It is nasty for sure.

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  10. Living in Arizona, Valley Fever is a concern for dog owners. I had no idea that there were even more fungal infections lurking in the dry dusty earth. Good information here. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. This one seems to prefer wet muddy over dry dusty. So there is that.

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  11. I have a (human) friend who had a life threatening fungal infection. Fortunately for him, they were able to save his life. I'm not sure exactly what was involved, but they needed to place him in a medical coma for about 9 days.

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    1. Wow, that was very serious then! Fungal infections are at least as nasty, or even more so, than viral; depending on the type.

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  12. I had no idea that certain fungal infections were so serious! Ruby is not much of a hunter - like at all - I'm always glad to have information on things to watch for just in case.

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    1. Unfortunately, yes, some are very nasty. Jasmine was a hiker but she too like to find and bury "treasures." Cookie is definitely a hunter and will dig if there is evidence of critters.

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  13. My Jack Russell had his annual exam and shots on a Monday. We left with a clean bill of health. On Friday, his breathing was very shallow for no apparent reason (no tennis balls or coyotes in sight), so I called the vet. The said to bring him in on Monday. By Saturday afternoon, he was clearly in stress so we went to the emergency clinic. I'm president of a fox hunting club where we keep 50 hunting hounds, so unfortunately I'm very familiar with Blasto and it's symptoms. I told the clinic to immediately check for blasto. Apparently, the people there have developed a deafness to owners who come in with a diagnosis of their pets, and they ran a battery of tests (at great expense) to conclude that they need to take x-rays to check for blasto, (Duh!) which was of course the problem. Their recommendation was to keep him there in an oxygen tent, on an IV, steroids, and other meds for a week and a cost of $5-$6K. I love my dog, but we simply could not do that. We asked for prescriptions and decided that we'll take him home and he'd make it or not. The clinic vet warned us to 'not let him suffer' and that if he's in stress to have him put down. We agreed.

    There are tangential stories about where we got meds and for how much (it can be quite expensive), and how difficult it is to keep a Jack Russell who lives with three other active dogs quiet, but the story ends with the dog being fine. He's still the fastest of the three, but it's either age or lost lung capacity that has reduced his endurance.

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    1. I'm so glad all ended well for your baby. Would you like to share the full story (have it published as an article?)

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  14. Oh me, oh my! Such scary information that I had no idea about. Thanks a lot for the info. So sorry to hear about Kane :(

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    1. Sometimes you'd think that ignorance would be better, wouldn't you?

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  15. Poor boy, oh my goodness. :( This was informative though, I will share this as well.

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    1. Thank you, Jenna. Yes, much less known but not at all less nasty than some of the other stuff out there.

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