The monsoon season has arrived with full vigor and it’s time to splash in puddles of water! But it also brings with it some not-so-pleasant guests like fungal infections, which can also affect our pets if not taken care of. Most pet parents know about these infections caused due to bacteria and viruses, but fungi are also equally responsible for skin infections.
Believe it or not, many diseases are caused by fungi. Even pets are highly prone to fungal infections. Fungi are present in the environment and even on their skin. Therefore, even if your pet is healthy and shows no signs of allergies, they might have gotten infected from other pets or while they were on a walk.
However, fungal infections in pets can be easily prevented and treated. First of all, watch out for a few telltale signs of fungal infections like the presence of fleas on your pet’s body leading to incessant itching.
Fungal infections can look like this
What is the reason for fungal infections on your pet’s skin?
There are different kinds of fungi present in the environment. The most common ones are ringworm and yeast. These affect the upper layer of the skin and the fur. But some diseases caused by fungi can be skin deep. They are known as “Systemic Fungal Infections”. These fungal infections severely affect the skin from within and may have serious consequences if not taken care of in a timely manner.
Types of superficial fungal infections in pets can be caused by the following -
Let’s begin with, why do ringworms occur in your pet’s body? Ringworm infection in dogs is the most common form of fungal infection. It also equally affects cats. Common symptoms include hair loss, itching, flaky skin and brittle nails. Ringworms can easily spread and infect other pets in the house.
- Bathe your pets every fortnight or after they have rolled in mud/grass
- Dry them completely after a bath
- Keep the house as clean as possible
- Vacuum carpets and rugs frequently
- Avoid contact with infected animals and people
To treat ringworm infections, the vet will collect infected hair samples for examination and based on its severity, the treatment will begin. The treatment can include medical baths using antifungal products and medicines to minimize the risk of ringworm spores from remaining alive and reinfecting your pets.
Yeast is generally found on your pet’s skin but it is the overgrowth of yeast that can lead to an infection. There are some specific parts of the body like paws and skin around the ears which can see the growth of yeast. Yeast infection can be really annoying to your pets that’s why it becomes extremely important to treat it on time. Unlike ringworms, yeast infection does not spread from one pet to another. Itchy, irritated skin with a distinct odor are what you need to watch out for.
- Keep your pets indoors, if there is extreme heat or humidity
- Feed them nutritious, good quality food
- Check if they are allergic to any food
- Keep their ears clean and go for regular checkups
- Dry out the skin, coat, ears, eyes, paws completely after a bath/swim
- Trim or tweeze the hair at the opening of the ears
- Use tick and flea sprays or spot ons as advised by your vet
- Avoid giving human table foods to your pets or anything loaded with sugar or carbs
In order to treat yeast infection, antifungal medicines are prescribed which can be fed orally or applied topically. You can also use a dog-ear cleaning solution like Wigoear as prescribed by the vet if the ear has gotten infected.
Wigoear Antimicrobial Ear Cleanser
Fungal infections are of various types
Types of systemic fungal infections in pets
There are a few common skin diseases caused due to fungal infections in both cats & dogs. They are -
Blastomycosis is caused by the fungus Blastomyces dermatitidis. It has a specific breeding ground in areas where the soil is moist and has ample vegetation. It infects the body through the respiratory system. Since dogs are known to have intense sniff sessions out in the open, they get easily affected by these fungi. Pets can show varied signs or symptoms like poor appetite, weight loss, difficulty in breathing, skin lesions, etc. Cats also get affected by it but it is significantly less severe than dogs.
Prevention: Keep your pets away from marshy lands, streams and lakes where the exposure is possibly the highest. Avoid residing in areas or an environment where the soil is disrupted regularly. Make sure your pet’s immunity levels are strong. Presently, there is no vaccine to prevent it in pets, so it's best to follow these precautions.
Cryptococcosis is caused by the fungus Cryptococcus neoformans and Cryptococcus gattii which affects both cats and dogs but the severity of infection is higher in dogs. The fungus is found almost everywhere and is transmitted by inhaling thereby causing a lung infection. The symptoms are lethargy, coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge and even issues with the neurological makeup of the pet. Cryptococcosis is rather difficult to treat and the medication can even last a year. The possibility of death is higher in such cases.
Prevention: Keep your pets away from large volumes of pigeon droppings and ensure they do not eat the same. This type of fungal infection is present in the environment and infects animals especially through bird droppings, feces or even decaying vegetation.
Your vet will be able to treat your pet’s fungal infection effectively
Coccidioidomycosis is caused by Coccidioides fungal spores. It is also known as “Valley Fever”. Pets are at risk of getting infected if they inhale dirt containing its spores. The fungus affects the respiratory system and may lead to bouts of chronic cough in pets. Cats can have a different set of symptoms related to skin. The diagnosis includes a blood test and sample to test the presence of fungus. It requires long-term treatment which includes oral antifungal medicines. It can be treated easily if the symptoms are identified early on.
Prevention: Reduce your pet’s exposure to the fungus by avoiding activities that generate dust, or reduce the digging behavior in your dog, prevent them from sniffing into rodent holes and try to keep them indoors, which might get difficult. Take them out for a few hours only when you can monitor their activity.
Histoplasmosis is caused by Histoplasma capsulatum. But unlike other fungal infections, it is non-contagious. It is found in nitrogen-rich soil and also gets transferred through inhaling. Dogs can show symptoms like weight loss, fever, cough while cats also show similar signs like fever, labored breathing & coughing. Usually, the infection is centered around the lungs but it can also spread to other parts of the body. The diagnosis can involve identification of the fungus, blood tests, and even x-rays. If the fungus has spread beyond the lungs, the treatment might become difficult. Nonetheless, antifungal medicines have to be continued for a long time.
Prevention: Avoid or minimize exposing your pets to dust/soil contaminated with bird or bat feces or droppings. Prevent cats being exposed to poultry or old buildings that may have dead rodent remains.
Aspergillosis is caused by Aspergillus species. It is a respiratory infection that infects a pet’s nasal passage and rarely spreads through the body. The fungus is present almost everywhere in animals as well as in soil. Symptoms are nonspecific and can vary from inflammation of the nasal passage to the sinus. Recovery is easy but a few cases may require a second stage of medication.
Prevention: Avoid taking pets for walks near hatcheries where there could be chances of moldy feed or feces. Keep the litter box clean and check for moldy or clamped litter and dispose of it off appropriately. Ensure that the food and water bowls are clean and do not have moldy food particles remaining in them. Clean and disinfect them regularly.
Ears are prone to fungal infections
How to prevent fungal infection
Fungal infections can be prevented by following these steps -
- Use an anti-fungal shampoo during bath time. When done, dry them thoroughly using a clean and dry towel. If your pet is not afraid of a hairdryer, then use it as well.
- Use antifungal powder once weekly all over the body, especially on the ears, elbows, paws and joint cavities since these areas are more prone to fungal infections.
- Post swim sessions, follow the above recommendations without fail. Try to keep your pet as dry as possible.
- Regular grooming is an effective way to keep fungal infections at bay. Groom your pets at least twice a month.
- If you’re not able to opt for professional grooming, brush your pet’s coat twice a day, from to back and back to front.
Treatment of fungal infection
The treatment varies on a case-to-case basis but it can include both, topical and oral medication.
- Antifungal baths and antifungal sprays can be used as per the vet’s advice to protect your pet’s skin from skin inflammation and infections
- If the infection has spread in the body, antifungal medicines will be prescribed by the vet
- The motto of “Prevention is better than cure” will help in preventing any cases of fungal infections in your pets
If you observe any of these symptoms in your pets, take them to the vet as soon as possible. Timely prevention and information about these infections can help every pet parent. You can also contact us for an online veterinary consultation by calling on +91 8431620000 or visit our website www.wiggles.in
Team Wiggles has started an initiative called #BondedByBlood through which we are trying to create an online repository of ready pet donors. Register your pet today & save a life tomorrow.
Join Wiggles Tribe, our 20k+ community of pet parents on Facebook where our in-house team of vets answer your pet-related queries 24/7.
*Disclaimer: This blog is vet-approved and includes original content which is compiled after thorough research and authenticity by our in-house team of vets and content experts. It is always advisable to consult a veterinarian before you try any products, pet food or any kind of treatment/medicines on your pets, as each pet is unique and will respond differently.
© Wiggles India