When to consider aspergillosis in dogs - Veterinary Medicine
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When to consider aspergillosis in dogs
Sinonasal and disseminated aspergillosis—the two classic presentations—are caused by different Aspergillus fungi. Learn how to manage these clinically distinct infections, and find out how the prognoses for affected dogs differ between the two.


Clinical signs

Figure 1. The nasal planum of a dog with sinonasal aspergillosis. Note the erosion and depigmentation. (Image courtesy of Dr. Debra Zoran, Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.)
Clinical findings associated with sinonasal aspergillosis include profuse purulent to mucopurulent nasal discharge, facial discomfort, depigmentation or ulceration of the nares, sneezing, and epistaxis.1,2 Depigmentation is thought to be caused by toxins in the discharge and is not routinely noted with other causes of nasal diseases in dogs (Figure 1).1 Nasal discharge is initially unilateral but can progress to bilateral because of nasal septum destruction. Other signs include decreased appetite, lethargy, stertor, stridor, and open-mouth breathing. In advanced cases, ocular discharge and exophthalmos may be seen, and, in our clinical experience, destruction of the cribriform plate may result in signs of forebrain dysfunction. In the early stages of disease, discharge may be intermittent or only associated with sneezing.

Diagnostic approach

Consider sinonasal aspergillosis in any dog with nasal discharge and other compatible clinical findings. Differential diagnoses include nasal neoplasia, idiopathic lymphoplasmacytic rhinitis, a nasal foreign body, tooth root abscessation, and oronasal fistulation.1,2

The physical examination should include facial palpation to check for symmetry and detect pain. Also evaluate airflow through each nostril by using a chilled microscope slide or a cotton wisp.5 Loss of airflow suggests a mass lesion and is not consistent with primary aspergillosis. Perform careful retropulsion of each globe since asymmetric retropulsion may suggest a mass lesion. Examine the hard and soft palates, tonsils, and teeth for evidence of neoplastic erosion or invasion or dental disease.


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