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Versatile Hunter

Blastomycosis in Dogs

Sun, November 13, 2016

Recently, a good friend of mine and his family lost their hunting dog to this fungal infection. As imagined, it was devastating to the family. Cally is the sister to my youngest male Drahthaar and she was an incredible hunting dog with unbelievable natural ability who not only tested well but in just two years became an incredible hunter of upland and waterfowl game. She had an incredible switch to go from pure hunting machine to lovable house dog with 3 little ones to hang around with. 

It’s at least the 5th dog I’ve known in central Illinois to get the fungus in the past 10 years; several of which passed away because of it and the others lost at least partial eyesight.  Quite frankly, it scares the heck out of me because it is hidden in the soil and there is no way to know exactly where.  Hunting dogs are more likely to get infected simply because they spend a lot of time rooting around with their nose close to the ground.  I’m adding a couple of good websites with information as I’m no veterinarian.  In short, know the symptoms and get IMMEDIATE veterinary care when shown as the speed at which the drugs are administered are key to fighting it. 

Rest in Peace, Cally girl. . .


We lost our family beagle to that infection back in the 90s.  It’s really a devastating infection. Vets were too late to do anything about it. At the time back in the 90s, they said the infection was going around affecting a lot of the outdoor dogs that did a lot of digging in the dirt - - which of course beagles, as do many other breeds, do a lot of. Sounds like it’s making the rounds again. Sorry to hear about your friend’s dog. :-(

Posted by Walston on November 14

Shae this is very scary and humans can get it too, I was diagnosed last March with it and it nearly killed me, coughing up blood, etc. very serious at first look they thought I had lung cancer and both lungs had large mass. Luckily I got treated and am in fact still taking treatments for it now, 9 months later, the mass in my lungs has been reduced by 95% but this is no laughing matter, as I understand it’s not transferable from dog to human but it’s very serious stuff and it’s in Central Il. for sure

Posted by Flatlander on November 14

I’ve lost two of my Mastiff’s since 2004 to Blasto. Its nasty what it does to a dog. We have been very careful now with our outdoor dogs.

Posted by CentILOutdoorsman on November 14

My Chesapeake bay retriever (uncut male 11 yrs old) contracted this fungal infection sometime in 2014/2015. It presented with eye problems, which was the internal eyelid sticking closed, on fathers day weekend of 2015. However, he showed signs of lameness earlier than that…during snow goose season the preceding spring, along with an occasional cough after drinking that I dismissed easily. The diagnosis is confirmed with a urine test as if the spores are present and active there will be a certain protein that shows up in the urine. The test was positive. He was treated for five months with fluconazole with constant monitoring of his liver function which did degrade over time .  He was given denamarin, a liver supplement which did work to keep his liver functioning during treatment. He was treated with three different kinds of drops in his eyes and prednizone for the severe inflammation in the eye. He was rendered blind in his left eye but the eye was not enucleated. Treatment took place at the U of I by both general practitioners and ophthalmology. Follow up urine test came back clear and I hunted him last fall but about two months after the last dose of meds he developed a sore on his rump that we thought was a puncture wound from a spill he took while retrieving a goose on a steep embankment. His lameness returned. Took him back to the U of I and the urine test came back positive. Treatment with an alternate and even more expensive drug, Itraconazole was started along with the eye meds. The bad eye was also removed. Liver function deteriorated again but was successfully treated again with denamarin. Turns out the wound on his rump was a blasto lesion…the lameness was because it was in his bones, the cough was because it was in his lungs…and the eye involvement was the last symptom. Turns out the bad eye that wasn’t removed had active blasto spores in it which led to the relapse. 
The urine protein test is 100 to 150 bucks. I will be making that an annual thing as part of the vaccination routine for all my dogs going forward.
The drugs used are very expensive and we found that Kroger was the cheapest by more than 50%. However, the cost for the fluconazole was still 80 bucks a week. The Itraconazole was even higher at 150 bucks for ten days. We found a Canadian pharmacy for the Itraconazole and approached both the U of I and our vet about using them. This was discouraged because they feared the quality of the drug would be diminished. I checked with two pharmacists in our family who told me the quality of the drug from Canada was just fine. Three months worth of Itraconazole cost not quite 200 bucks.
The name of the Canadian pharmacy is the “Pharmstore”. When I told my vet that our family pharmacists said the drug quality was fine he went ahead and wrote the script. The Pharmstore handles meds for both humans and pets. There are many folks who can’t afford treatment because of the high cost of these meds…pass this on to others so they have an opportunity to try to save their pets instead of euthanizing.
So if you see lameness, skin lesions, eye trouble or coughing get the urine protein test to rule out blasto. And yes this fungus can infect humans…up in Minnesota there are black spruce forests that are marked as enter at your own risk because of blastomycosis spores being present.
Also…we were very fortunate that he only lost one eye. By the time symptoms appear in the eye the infection is generally too advanced to save the eye. The U of I has an emergency clinic and pharmacy that is open 24/7. If it weren’t for the two visits in the middle of the night to see the ophthalmologists we would have probably lost both eyes. Their number is 217-333-5300.

Posted by jedro on November 14

Lost my yellow lab to it back in the 90s.  It had progressed so far, vets couldn’t do much about it.  He had bone deteriorating at his paw, so they removed part of his toe.  Sores all over his body.  Sad times

Posted by Lasrael on November 15

Itraconazole is what I’m on currently…’s taken a pretty big dose and not sure i’ll be off it anytime soon, but it’s working!!!the drug has some side affects like really sore muscles and upset stomach but it’s better than alternative… same goes for the dogs, it may take 6-9 months for a full recovery i’d assume. and in that time they may not feel quite up to speed

Posted by Flatlander on November 15

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