Blasto in Dogs

icon June 11, 2024

Blastomycosis, commonly referred to as "blasto," is a serious fungal infection that affects dogs. This infection is caused by the Blastomyces dermatitidis fungus, which is typically found in moist, decaying organic matter such as soil, wood, and leaves. While it primarily affects dogs, it can also infect humans and other animals. In this article, we will delve into what blasto is, its symptoms, treatment options, early signs, and the prognosis for dogs diagnosed with this infection.

What is Blasto in Dogs?

Blastomycosis is a systemic fungal infection that occurs when dogs inhale the spores of the Blastomyces dermatitidis fungus. The fungus is endemic to certain regions, particularly areas near water bodies such as rivers, lakes, and swamps. It is most prevalent in parts of North America, including the Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri, and St. Lawrence river valleys, as well as the Great Lakes region.

How Blasto Develops

Once the spores are inhaled, they travel to the lungs where they transform into yeast. The yeast form of the fungus can then disseminate through the bloodstream to various organs, including the skin, eyes, bones, and lymph nodes. This dissemination can cause a wide range of symptoms, making early diagnosis and treatment crucial.

Risk Factors

Certain factors can increase a dog's risk of contracting blastomycosis:

  • Geographical Location: Dogs living or frequently traveling to endemic areas are at higher risk.
  • Outdoor Activities: Dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors, particularly in areas with moist soil and decaying vegetation, are more susceptible.
  • Immune System Status: Dogs with weakened immune systems are more prone to infections, including blasto.

Symptoms of Blasto in Dogs

The symptoms of blastomycosis in dogs can vary widely depending on which organs are affected. The infection can present in different forms, including pulmonary (lung), disseminated (spread throughout the body), and cutaneous (skin).

Common Symptoms

1. Respiratory Symptoms:

   - Coughing

   - Difficulty breathing

   - Rapid breathing

   - Exercise intolerance


2. General Symptoms:

   - Fever

   - Weight loss

   - Lethargy

   - Loss of appetite


3. Skin Symptoms:

   - Ulcerated, draining skin lesions

   - Nodules or abscesses


4. Ocular Symptoms:

   - Inflammation of the eye (uveitis)

   - Discharge from the eye

   - Vision problems, including blindness


5. Musculoskeletal Symptoms:

   - Lameness

   - Swelling in the bones or joints


6. Neurological Symptoms:

   - Seizures

   - Disorientation

   - Weakness


Early Signs of Blasto

Early detection of blastomycosis is critical for successful treatment. The early signs can be subtle and easily mistaken for other conditions. Some of the early signs to watch for include:

  • Mild coughing
  • Occasional sneezing
  • Slight decrease in appetite
  • Mild lethargy
  • Intermittent fever

If you notice any of these early signs, particularly if your dog has been in an endemic area, it is important to consult a veterinarian promptly.

Blasto in Dogs Treatment

Treating blastomycosis can be challenging and often requires a multifaceted approach. The primary treatment is antifungal medication, but supportive care and monitoring are also crucial.

Antifungal Medications

1. Itraconazole: This is the most commonly prescribed antifungal medication for blasto in dogs. It is usually given orally for several months, and treatment continues until the dog has been symptom-free for at least one month.

2. Fluconazole: Another oral antifungal medication that may be used, especially if itraconazole is not effective or causes side effects.

3. Amphotericin B: This is a potent antifungal drug that is administered intravenously. It is often used in severe cases or when oral medications are not effective. However, it can be nephrotoxic, so kidney function must be closely monitored.

→ Antifungal Cream For Dogs

Supportive Care

Supportive care is essential for dogs undergoing treatment for blastomycosis. This can include:

  • Fluids: To prevent dehydration and support kidney function.
  • Nutritional Support: Ensuring the dog maintains adequate nutrition, which may involve appetite stimulants or feeding tubes in severe cases.
  • Oxygen Therapy: For dogs with severe respiratory symptoms, oxygen therapy can help improve breathing.
  • Pain Management: Medications to manage pain, especially if the infection has spread to the bones or joints.


Monitoring and Follow-Up

Regular veterinary check-ups are necessary to monitor the dog’s response to treatment. Blood tests, chest X-rays, and other diagnostic tools may be used to assess the effectiveness of the medication and adjust the treatment plan as needed.

Can Dogs Survive Blasto?

The prognosis for dogs with blastomycosis varies depending on several factors, including the severity of the infection, how early it is diagnosed, and the overall health of the dog.

Factors Influencing Survival

1. Early Diagnosis:
Early detection and prompt treatment significantly improve the chances of survival. Dogs diagnosed in the early stages of the infection have a better prognosis.

2. Severity of Infection:
Dogs with mild to moderate infections tend to respond better to treatment compared to those with severe or disseminated infections.

3. Treatment Compliance:
Strict adherence to the prescribed treatment regimen is crucial. Skipping doses or stopping treatment prematurely can lead to a relapse.

4. Overall Health:
Dogs with strong immune systems and no underlying health issues have a better chance of recovery.

Survival Rates

Studies indicate that the survival rate for dogs treated for blastomycosis is approximately 70-80%. However, this rate can vary based on the factors mentioned above. Unfortunately, some dogs may not survive, particularly if the infection is advanced or complications arise.

Long-Term Outlook

Dogs that survive blastomycosis can recover completely and lead healthy lives. However, some dogs may experience long-term effects such as chronic respiratory issues or vision problems if the infection caused significant damage to the lungs or eyes.

Preventing Blasto in Dogs

Preventing blastomycosis can be challenging due to the widespread nature of the fungus in certain regions. However, there are steps you can take to reduce your dog's risk of exposure:

1. Avoid High-Risk Areas:
Limit your dog’s exposure to areas known to harbor the Blastomyces fungus, especially during peak seasons when the soil is disturbed.

2. Monitor Outdoor Activities:
Be vigilant about your dog’s activities in endemic areas. Try to prevent them from digging or sniffing in moist, decaying organic matter.

3. Regular Check-Ups:
Regular veterinary check-ups can help detect early signs of infection and ensure prompt treatment.

4. Immune System Support:
Maintain your dog’s overall health through a balanced diet, regular exercise, and preventive healthcare to support a strong immune system.


Blastomycosis is a serious and potentially life-threatening fungal infection in dogs. Early detection, prompt treatment, and ongoing supportive care are essential for improving the chances of survival and recovery. By understanding the symptoms, treatment options, and preventive measures, dog owners can better protect their pets from this challenging infection.

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