Aspergillosis is the medical term for a fungal infection that most commonly affects a dog’s nasal cavity and respiratory system. Dogs with longer noses, such as German shepherds, are more likely to get this infection. Dogs with “smashed-in” noses, such as pugs, bulldogs, and Pekingese, are less likely to be affected by it. While all dogs can get this fungal infection, those that are middle-aged, have a concurrent disease, or are on certain drugs, such as steroids, are at greater risk. Aspergillosis can spread throughout the body and can be fatal; if this happens, it is called systemic aspergillosis, which is more dangerous than the localized, and more common, nasal version of the disease.
The most common signs of aspergillosis confined to the nasal cavity are open sores around your dog’s nostrils. Additionally, your dog may experience facial pain, as well as frequent sneezing, and pus-like or bloody nasal discharge. In situations where the fungal infection has spread, your dog may show more serious signs, which can include:
If the fungus is confined to your dog’s nose, your veterinarian may recommend the following tests:
- Blood work
- Scoping of the nose
If your veterinarian suspects the aspergillosis has spread, he or she may also recommend the following:
- Chemistry tests to evaluate kidney, liver, and pancreatic function, as well as sugar levels
- A complete blood count to rule out blood-related conditions
- Urine tests to rule out urinary tract infection and to evaluate the ability of the kidneys to concentrate urine
- Electrolyte tests to ensure your pet isn't dehydrated or suffering from an electrolyte imbalance
The treatment for aspergillosis involves use of either oral or topical antifungal drugs, depending on whether your dog’s case is systemic or confined to the nasal cavity. The nasal form of the disease carries a much better prognosis than the systemic form. Your veterinarian will discuss the right treatment for your best friend with you.
Unfortunately, there are no specific precautionary measures to take against aspergillosis; additionally, there is no vaccine or preventive.
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.