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A growing number of antifungal medications and products are available on the veterinary market to treat fungal infections, such as ringworm, malassezia pachydermatis, blastomycosis, aspergillosis and cryptococcus. Fungal infections can present on the skin, in the ears, on mucus membranes, and some fungal infections attack systemically. If your dog has been diagnosed with a fungal infection, your veterinarian will treat the condition with the antifungal product that is most effective at combating the specific fungal culprit.
Several newer oral medications that have been deemed safer have been introduced to the market. Some fungal infections that previously required intravenous infusion of antifungal drugs can now be treated at home. Most of these medications, such as fluconazole, terbinafine, ketoconazole and itraconazole, work by compromising the structural integrity of the fungal cell wall, causing the cell to weaken and die. Griseofulvin, an effective choice for treating ringworm, works by inhibiting the fungal cell’s ability to reproduce. Griseofulvin is only effective at treating ringworm fungus. All of these oral medications are available in tablet form, and itraconozole and fluconazole are also available as liquid preparations.
Antifungal Shampoos and Dips
If your dog is suffering from a widespread fungal skin infection, your veterinarian may recommend a soothing medicated shampoo for your furry friend. Antifungal shampoos contain active ingredients, such as ketoconazole, miconazole or chlorhexidine. When bathing your dog lather the shampoo down to your dog’s skin, and then allow the product to sit on your dog’s skin for at least five to 10 minutes before rinsing your dog clean. Your veterinarian will instruct you on frequency and length of time for each bath. Another treatment option for the bathtub, particularly in ringworm cases, is a lime-sulfur dip that requires several repeated soaks. If your veterinarian recommends a lime-sulfur dip at home for your dog, be forewarned: The substance smells like rotten eggs, and it will stain clothing and jewelry.
Medicating the Infected Ear
If your dog has an ear infection caused by malassezia pachydermatis, your veterinarian may prescribe a suspension to treat the affected ear. Choices of otic suspension contain both an antifungal ingredient and a broad-spectrum antibiotic to combat bacteria, and treatment with this medication is administered once daily. Your veterinarian will recommend a therapeutic number of drops to gently squirt into the ear canal, and the suspension can also be rubbed on the inside of your dog’s outer ear flap if the skin there is affected.
Many fungal infections require the use of multiple antifungal products to increase their efficacy. Bathing with antifungal shampoos, application of topical creams, ointments or sprays and administering oral medication offers the best chance to combat the infection. Some fungal infections are resistant to certain antifungal drugs, and some infections may be recurring. Numerous additional topical antifungal preparations are available that your veterinarian can try if the first prescribed treatment protocol proves ineffective. Remaining vigilant and persistent is essential in preventing the spread of infection and achieving successful treatment.