What are the Treatments for Fungal Pneumonia in Canines?

by Lydia Janssen
    Dogs can inhale fungus spores when sniffing the ground.

    Dogs can inhale fungus spores when sniffing the ground.

    Kane Skennar/Photodisc/Getty Images

    Fungal pneumonia is a highly dangerous disease that can be fatal to your dog. The systemic infection does not always respond to treatment, so it's important to recognize the problem and take your dog to the vet quickly, before the fungus can get too thoroughly established. All treatments should be completely finished to ensure the infection does not come back.

    Fungal Pneumonia Progression

    Fungal pneumonia begins with your dog sniffing either organic materials, bird droppings or other feces that contains fungus spores. The spores travel through either the nose or the mouth and begin multiplying. The spores can cause irritation to the eyes and mouth, cause pneumonia in the lungs and, if left untreated, affect the bones, liver, spleen, skin, lymph nodes and brain. Fluid in the lungs makes breathing difficult and can be fatal.

    Identifying the Symptoms

    Fast treatment is crucial, so it's important to recognize the symptoms and get your pal veterinary care as soon as possible. The disease may first present as runny eyes or nose. A moist cough, difficulty or rapid breathing and loud breathing sounds are some of the more obvious signs of pneumonia. You may also notice fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, bluish gums and lameness. This disease is more common in dogs with compromised immune systems, so keep a close watch for these symptoms if your dog has struggling health.

    Diagnosis Methods

    Your vet must first identify that the pneumonia is caused by fungus growth, since bacteria, viruses or inhaled objects and fluids may also be to blame. She may listen to the lungs, perform a chest X-ray and take a complete blood count. If the CBC shows higher neutrophils and monocytes, types of white blood cell, then fungal infection is likely. She may also perform a tracheal wash or a bronchoscopy, procedures that take samples directly from the windpipe and lungs, to confirm a fungal infection and identify which species of fungus is causing the problem.

    Treatment Options

    The primary treatment for fungal pneumonia is an imidazole-type anti-fungal, either through IV or taken orally, to kill and slow the growth of the infection. This treatment may last anywhere from several months to a full year to ensure the infection has been completely eliminated. There are several treatments that can give your dog relief from pneumonia symptoms during this time. Nebulization and coupage involve supplying moist, humid air to the lungs, then gently tapping on the chest with a cupped hand. This loosens the mucus and allows your dog to cough some of it up, giving him more room to breath. A warm, dry environment and oxygen therapy can also help speed recovery.

    Photo Credits

    • Kane Skennar/Photodisc/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Lydia Janssen began her career writing news articles for the SPCA to connect adoptable pets with their potential owners. She moved into professional writing in 2009 and uses her experience as a dog trainer, SPCA kennel worker and veterinary technician to bring quality information to responsible pet owners.

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