Main > Disseminated Aspergillus in female German Shepherd (25 replies)

by Grumpyman on 26 November 2012 - 14:11

Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 01:47 pm
Hi everyone, I am new here and desperate for answers.
I am trying ot find out as much information as possible about disseminated aspergillus.
My beautiful 4 year old spayed female first complained about sensitivity to the neck area back in early July. We visited the vet and the vet thought it was sterile menangitis and were given prednisone, which helped her but she never was back at her 100%.
In August she complained of lower back/hip area pain, especially when getting up. So back to the vet we went and were given more prednisone, which seem to help. This time, the vet thought it might be an auto immune disease.  
In September and October we went back again and she was given again more prednisone, but this time she was also given arthritis medication and pain killers.
Well in early November she got worse to where she would cry horribly to get up, but once she was up and moving, she seemed to be ok.

So finally we were referred to a neuoroligical vet. in Phoenix and after undergoing MRI's, CT Scans, X rays, blood and urine tests that were also sent off to the lab for cultures.

We recieved the bad news about a week ago that she tested postivie for aspergillus, the disseminated type. It is in her spine, affecting her getting up and a bit walking.
We now have her on Clavamox, Prednisone, Gabapentin, Tramadol and Morphine. She recently started with Itraconazole  and Terbinafine, which will help kill the fungal disease.
She will also have to undergo IV Treatments 2 - 3 times a week to also help kill this fungus even quicker. So far she has recieved 2 IV treatments last week and just this past weekend, I could see some improvement, which makes us all happy.  

My lovely Shepherd is very alert, has a good appetite and drinks plenty of water. She does not look like a dying dog. The Phoenix vet said that we should see an improvement in 2 weeks from the IV treatments.

Has anyone ever heard of this disease or can head us in the right direction for more information or to someone who has been through this? From what I understand, this disease affects mostly female German Shepherds.
We don't want to put her down, I want to give her a chance, my kids are devastated and so are we, she is our first family dog.


by Jenni78 on 26 November 2012 - 14:11

Posts: 6958
Joined: Sun Sep 24, 2006 03:24 pm
I'm so sorry to hear of your dog's illness. I sent you a PM. 

by Shandra on 26 November 2012 - 14:11

Posts: 523
Joined: Sun Jun 10, 2007 06:15 pm
Wow that is horrible! Do you have any idea how she contracted it? I am definately going to have to research this, I have heard of aspergillus in birds mainly from peanuts if I remember right but not dogs.
Good luck with your baby.

by B.Andersen on 26 November 2012 - 15:11

Posts: 510
Joined: Tue Jan 30, 2007 03:09 am
Did they test for Valley Fever?

by Blitzen on 26 November 2012 - 15:11

Posts: 11071
Joined: Mon Aug 09, 2004 06:49 am
It's a difficult disease to manage. Have you consulted a vet school? The meds are expensive, but you should be able to have them compounded by an independent lab much cheaper than you can buy them from the manufacturer. A friend is dealing with this too. She uses the U of FL Vet school and the the dog is holding his own. It sounds like you are doing all you can with a similar treatment protocol to the one used in FL. Sounds like she is improving, so that's a very good thing. Good luck and keep us updated.

by Grumpyman on 26 November 2012 - 15:11

Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 01:47 pm
B. Andersen - Yes, they did test for Valley and Tick fever and she is negative.

Blitzen - No, I have not consuted a Vet School. Yes, the current meds are expensive. The Neuro vet. which we referred to did find an independent pet pharmacy in Phoenix which compounds medications and it is where the Itraconozale and Terbinafine are being purchased from.
Can you link your friend in Florida and I up so we can contact each other and share thoughts on this disease please?


by Blitzen on 26 November 2012 - 17:11

Posts: 11071
Joined: Mon Aug 09, 2004 06:49 am
I'll try to contact her today. I'll send you a private email.

by Grumpyman on 26 November 2012 - 17:11

Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 01:47 pm
Thank you very much, it is much appreciated.  

by ziegenfarm on 26 November 2012 - 17:11

Posts: 1574
Joined: Sat Sep 20, 2003 04:05 pm
okay, i'm gonna ask some stupid questions here.  i'm an old timer, but not up to speed on what is going on here, so bear with me please.
how is this aspergillus disorder different from aspergillus added to foods as an enzyme for digestion?
didn't they determine that aspergillus was to the root of the problem with contaminated grain in diamond dog food several years ago?
i have some theories rattling about in my head, but hope someone can clear up these questions.  thanks.

by beetree on 26 November 2012 - 18:11

Posts: 12412
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2007 04:40 pm

Ziegenfarm, you got me curious so I did a google search and came up with the following in answer to: 

how is this aspergillus disorder different from aspergillus added to foods as an enzyme for digestion?

Enzymes derived from the Aspergillus oryzae fungus have been subjected to numerous studies evaluating their role in supporting healthy digestive function. Moreover, several human studies suggest the proteolytic enzymes derived from this fungus may play a role in anti-inflammatory and fibrinolytic therapy. These enzymes appear to be relatively heat stable and they are also active throughout a wide pH range, important because most enzymes are deact*ated in stomach acid. These enzymes. synthesized from fungus, contain no fungal residue even though that is their derivation. Modern filtration technology enables these fungal enzymes to be ideal for human consumption.

didn't they determine that aspergillus was to the root of the problem with contaminated grain in diamond dog food several years ago?


Aflatoxins are produced as secondary metabolites by many species of Aspergillus fungi (most notably Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus). Many agricultural crops including corn, rice, wheat, nuts, soybeans, sunflowers and even milk, are vulnerable to attack by the fungi that produce aflatoxin. 


Aflatoxin exposure was brought to the attention of canine owners in late 2005 when a number of canines became ill from eating contaminated dog food. Although, it is entirely possible that this mass episode of aflatoxin poisoning could have gone unnoticed, an alert veterinarian realized that several dogs in his care were exhibiting similar symptoms. Once brought to the attention of the public through media reports, the full extent of the problem was exposed. After investigation, it was determined that certain pet foods made by Diamond Brand Pet Foods at their Gaston, South Carolina plant, and distributed in 23 U.S. states, were contaminated with Aflatoxin. Contaminated pet food was distributed to stores in Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Vermont, and Virginia, and in a number of countries, including several in the European Union, according to reports.

by ziegenfarm on 26 November 2012 - 18:11

Posts: 1574
Joined: Sat Sep 20, 2003 04:05 pm
thanks.  that was more indepth than what i found.  it appears there are many many strains of aspergillus-some beneficial & some
pathogens.  it sounds like making a deal with the devil to he going to hold up his end of the bargin & do what you
asked or is he going to turn on you & destroy you?  hmmmm.

by B.Andersen on 26 November 2012 - 18:11

Posts: 510
Joined: Tue Jan 30, 2007 03:09 am
I would say that cotton fields may be a vector for this in Arizona.

by ziegenfarm on 26 November 2012 - 18:11

Posts: 1574
Joined: Sat Sep 20, 2003 04:05 pm
in that case, the pathogens could be inhaled or ingested.

by hexe on 27 November 2012 - 02:11

Posts: 2971
Joined: Sat Sep 27, 2003 02:31 am
Regarding "how did this poor dog become infected with this?", the unfortunate answer is that Arizona, in particular, is a freakin' hotbed for this organism, and for some reason or other GSDs are more susceptible to the disseminated form of it...and the route of infection is nearly ALWAYS inhalation, especially given the typical behavior of dogs, sniffing and snuffling along the ground as they love to do.  There was a rise in infections specifically in the Phoenix area in the past four or five years, because apparently there was a great deal of construction taking place in the area which included lots and lots of moving of dirt.  I only know about that because I know someone, 'cyberly', who lives in the Phoenix area and whose young adult GSD bitch became infected in the past three or four years. In the course of discussing the situation, her owner noted that such dust-causing activity was rife in the area, and we tried to figure how one could protect their dogs from exposure to the fungus, which is in the soil but becomes disseminated when the ground is disturbed and can then be carried on air currents and objects to places some distance from where the ground was broken to release the spores.

It may help the OP to know that the female I refer to above was SUCCESSFULLY treated for the disseminated form of the disease--and while it did take a few years of treatment, she had little in the way of any adverse effects while in treatment [some nausea & some loss of appetite and energy, specifically, and all were managable], and was pronounced clear of the illness about a year or two ago.   The major drawback with treatment, of course, is the's too often simply too far out of reach for most owners, and the best they can manage is to keep the dog as comfortable as possible for as long as possible before letting them go. I hope things work out as well for your dog, Grumpyman, as they did for my cyber-friend's girl.

by Blitzen on 27 November 2012 - 03:11

Posts: 11071
Joined: Mon Aug 09, 2004 06:49 am
Aspergillus is fairly common in FL and Georgia too. Some cases are localized to the sinuses; I think it's easier to treat than the disseminated type although the dog looks like a Frankenstien canine while undergoing treatment. The meds are injected directly into the sinuse via ports installed in the skull.  It's not a fun disease to deal with, but I think it's not hopeless by any means. My understanding is that this is one of those fungal infections that most dogs are exposed to at one time or another; some dogs can fight it off, some can't. No one really knows why. The effected dogs don't seem to have a compromised immune system or any underlying diseases.

Grumpyman, I have sent an email to the person  who is currently treating her GSD. If you want to send me your email, you can do it in a private message here.

by Barenfell on 27 November 2012 - 04:11

Posts: 34
Joined: Wed Dec 16, 2009 09:55 pm
I recently completed treated one of my dogs for Blastomycosis, so can totally relate to what you're feeling and going through right now.  I would suggest checking with the Pet Health Pharmacy in Youngtown, AZ for competive pricing on Itraconazole.  Also, VERY important...make sure you are giving the beaded/pelleted form of Itraconazole...NOT the bulk powdered drug.  About 85% of dogs do not absorb the BULK Itraconazole not believe your vet if s/he tells you otherwise.  Request a bioassay to check the circulating blood levels of the drug if you are in doubt...MiraVista Labs did the two that I requested.

Here's a link on aspergillus infections that should be helpful...
Discussion of disseminated aspergillus starts on page 7, but there is good information throughout the entire article.

Good luck with your dog.

by Grumpyman on 27 November 2012 - 13:11

Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Nov 26, 2012 01:47 pm
My poor girl wouldn't get up when I got home from work yesterday, she didn't get up all night and no matter how hard I tried this morning, I just couldn't get her up. She does move around using her front and crawls to move around.
I think I may be fighting a losing battle.
I have to slightly pry her mouth open to give her medications. She is very alert........what do I do? Some of the latter posts give me confidence that something can be done, I need a miracle. My family and I talked about putting her down.

Since this being our first family dog, we are not sure of what direction or path to take now. We saw improvement over the weekend.  We thought we were headed in the right direction. 

Hexe, please find your cyber friend, I need desperate answers and guidance.   

by Blitzen on 27 November 2012 - 14:11

Posts: 11071
Joined: Mon Aug 09, 2004 06:49 am
I would talk to the vet who is treating her. She may need some IV fluids. I know it's hard to watch, but if she's not in any pain I'd probably give her a little more time. These treatments are very hard on the dog. Having said that, no one will think badly of you if you decide it is time to let her go. Good luck, in the end you will make the right decision.

by Nomofish on 12 April 2013 - 23:04

Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Apr 12, 2013 11:44 pm
Hello all,

This is very scary. My eight year old female GSD has come down with very similar symptoms over the last month and a half, mysterious lethargy, fever, and now pain in her extremities. After many tests, she has now come back as partially (she was below cut off but still higher than expected) positive for Disseminated Aspergillosis. Grumpyman you have my deepest sympathies as I am afraid what might be ahead for my girl. She is being tested for Valley Fever (she lived in Arizona 3 years ago), but we do not have the results back yet (I will repost with results). Any suggestions, advice? At this point the vet has ruled just about everything else out other than some kind of fungal nastiness such as the above. At this point, I am hoping that she was partially positive due to a dormant case of Valley Fever as I understand this is easier to treat.

Good luck all who are dealing with this stuff!

by Blitzen on 12 April 2013 - 23:04

Posts: 11071
Joined: Mon Aug 09, 2004 06:49 am
Nomofish, since grumpyman wrote this post his dog has passed away. I don't think he reads  here much anymore, so may not see your post. Very sorry to hear about your dog. Good luck.

You must be logged in to reply to posts

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!