Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Canine Nasal Aspergillosis – 
Nasal Fungus Infection – Alternate treatment to standardized methods
Disclaimer:  I’m not a veterinarian, nor in the medical field, nor is this really much of a 'blog'.  I am only writing/posting this in the hopes that it helps someone else who faces the challenges that we did with our dog, Molly.  I don’t claim to prove any of what I present, but I can state it did work for our dog, and I’m hoping it can help someone else’s dog, too.

With that said, if you have a dog with Nasal Aspergillosis, then you know there’s little information out there on how to treat it.  The information that is out there directs owners to go straight to a specialist for CT scans, biopsies, ingestible anti-fungals, and nasal flushes.  This is not cheap… we’re talking at least $1500 out of the gate for the diagnostics… then up to $2100 for the first round of treatment… a treatment that may or may not work.

So, here’s our story:  About 8 months ago we lost our little dog, Ollie, to a massive brain seizure (the vets don’t really know what happened, but it killed her).  She was the sweetest little Lhasa Apso/Poodle mix.  She went fast (within hours) from being normal to massive seizures and death… she was about 10 years old, and we miss her tremendously.

A couple months after her passing, we really missed having a dog in our household.  So, we started to look for the right rescue pup to get.  We stumbled across a Craigslist ad for a 10 month old little female Australian Shepard – Golden Retriever – Lab mix (1/2 Aussie, the other half mostly Golden… with some Lab in the mix).  We went and met “Molly”, and she was a sweetheart.  We could just tell she would be a good fit with us.  So we took her.

During the first couple weeks we noticed she was having muzzle tenderness.  When we took her in to be spayed, we asked the vet to look in her nose.  The vet came back saying she had a case of puppy warts (canine papaloma)… the vet said it’s equivalent to ‘chicken pox’ in humans, in that it’s a virus that will pass when her immune system catches up, and it’s kind of a ‘puppy right of passage’.  So we kept an eye on her, fed her good food, kept her clean, and kept an eye on her. 
A couple months passed and the tenderness got worse.  We thought we needed to find something to boost her immune system to help her fight this thing off.  We looked all over the web and found a huge mix of immune boosters for dogs.  Then I came across this site:  http://www.backyardremedies.com/blog/raw-milk-medicinal-friend
I’ll let you read through the site, but it talks about ‘first milk’ and its healing benefits.  From here I did an exhaustive search and narrowed down "colostrum" as the right supplement to give Molly to help boost her immune system:  http://www.zhion.com/Supplements/Colostrum.html  …it has so many positive attributes to it, that we started taking it ourselves (and I swear it’s helped with my seasonal allergies).

We had just started giving Molly the colostrum when she began to have some leakage coming out of her nose… just out of one nostril.  Going on blind faith that the vet’s initial diagnosis was correct (and the vet seemed very confident in her diagnosis), we hadn’t done much to help her other than finally getting the colostrum… we just kept an eye on her.  As she got a little worse and started with the leakage, I started to read everything I could on canine papaloma, and she didn’t have the true signs.  It ‘could’ be possible the symptoms were related, but not plausible.

Just as we were realizing Molly didn’t have canine papaloma virus, I had to go to Asia for a couple weeks on a business trip.  My wife was also going to be out of the country at that time, so I asked my mom to watch Molly for us.  We also asked if there was any way to have her take Molly in to the local vet in my Mom’s town.  That vet is an old farm vet, and is one the few vets I trust.  Mom said she would take Molly in.
When I got back into the states I called my mom, and she said Molly wasn’t doing well… she wasn’t eating much, was lethargic, and was having a lot of discharge out of her left nostril.  She said the vet did a full evaluation of her, checked in her nose with an otoscope, and took two ‘good’ biopsies of a whitish ‘dead cartalidge’ looking area inside the left nostril.  He cultured it, and it came back with slight signs of bactieria, and greater signs of fungal growth… he concluded it was canine aspergillosis.  His input was that it was beyond his capabilities to treat, and he said the treatment was expensive.  He also said that canine aspergillosis is most often a sign of another underlying health issue… possibility immune-deficiency, cancer, etc.  He prescribed some antibiotics just in case it was the bacteria that was causing the underlying problems... he said it wouldn't hurt her if that wasn't the cause.  So, when I got back from my trip, my mom had started Molly on the antibiotics.  Her vet instructed us to take Molly to a vet in our area (about 60 miles away) so they can better treat her.  We did.  Our local vet clinic looked at Molly (a light once-over), took some blood, gave her some pain meds, and told us they would call around to some specialists and see what the next steps in treatment should be (that visit was a nice $150 for not much of anything).  They got back to us a day later… there’s one specialist in our area that can deal with this kind of thing, and she referred us to them. 

I called the referral specialist, and they wanted $100 just for an initial consolation.  They also said they really wanted a CT scan, which was going to be around $1250-$1750.  From there they would like to treat her with nasal infusions of clotrimazole, which was $1850-$2150 per treatment, and it could take up to THREE treatments to resolve… and even then it wouldn’t treat any underlying causes.
We did get the blood work back from our local vet, and they said all was normal… looked good.
At this point, Molly was looking bad.  She now had nasal drainage out of both nostrils, she was lethargic, she was loosing weight, and she wouldn’t eat.  She was so sad looking… she was struggling, and we knew it.  But what was really wrong with her?  Do we spend THOUSANDS chasing treatments that may or may not work?  Why does it have to be thousands of $$$ up front to diagnose?

So here’s where we started to deep-dive into treatment of canine aspergillosis… and where it got frustrating and vague.  I poured through everything I could find that I thought would even partially help her.  We had stopped giving her antibiotics, for it was pretty clear the fungus was causing her all the grief… but we kept giving her the colostrum until we ran out, which just happened to be right around when we stopped the antibiotics.  Just after we stopped giving her the antibiotics, she started to do a little better… be a little more lively.  Now I know enough about antibiotics that you need to take them for the full prescription… if you stop early, even if you are feeling better, then infection can come back.  So, we thought maybe it really was the antibiotics that were helping her, that they were just starting to take affect, and we started giving them to her again.  The next day, she was down hard again sick.  Wrong move.  I then read some more on antibiotics and found they can suppress the immune system and make an animal more susceptible to fungus and disease… WHAT?!?!  We stopped the antibiotics right there and then… threw the rest away.

At this point, I’m frustrated, the vets seem to not want to touch her anymore and just want to refer her to the specialist that requires thousands of $$$ to even begin to investigate what’s ailing her, and many are saying there’s probably some other underlying issue and the treatment will just prolong the inevitable… that she’s going to die.  We tried to evaluate everything and make sense of it… we even considered ‘where is the point when she’s so sick that we need to put her down and release her from this’?  What a horrible thought!
We finally deduced that something was helping her feel a little better at one point, and we pinpointed the colostrum as the factor.  We readily bought some more and gave her a teaspoon in the morning and a teaspoon at night in her food.  I also read where mentholatum is known to be a home remedy for athlete’s foot, another fungus infection.  Plus, she was having difficulty breathing at night, so I took an old T-shirt, cut it up like a bib with the front section long enough to hang just past her snout, and coated the end with menthol rub… I then put the bib over her head through the neck hole.  She tolerated it, and when she’d lay down, the bib would lay with the menthol just at the end of her snout, and so she’d breathe it in.  That had an amazing impact the first night and wow did it help clear 'stuff' out… also sorts of leakage drained out of her (we had her pet bed on a plastic backed cloth tarp from Home Depot).  She slept that night without the gurgly sound in her nose for the first time in weeks.

My sister had suggested we also pursue some homeopathic treatments, if any existed.  So, in doing more research, we found there are cases of homeopathic cures for canine aspergillosis in the form of taking Aurum metallicum 30c and how it helped tremendously.  Here’s the case study on Indiana:  http://hpathy.com/veterinary-homeopathy/cases/indiana-a-lucky-dog/
We ordered the Aurum Metallicum off Amazon here:  http://www.amazon.com/Boiron-Aurum-Metallicum-30C-pellets/dp/B0006OND2M

It’s been a month + now since we cleared Molly of any antibiotics and/or pain pills and have been treating her with the colostrum, menthol vap-o-rub at night, and the Aurum Metallicum… and she is REMARKABLY better!!  I mean a night and day difference!!  She’s healed up, no drippage from her nose, super active, appetite is back, pigmentation in her nose has come back… she looks and acts just fine!!

So if you were to ask me what did it for Molly, I would say the colostrum.  My wife would say the treatment of all three: colostrum, menthol, and aurum metallicum.  The vets would say it’s none of the above, give me your money, and we’ll squirt clotrimazole into her head :-/
Something in me tells me that Molly does have some issue with her immune system, and that opened her up to being susceptible to the fungus infection.  It may be a permanent immune deficiency, so we’ll keep supplementing her diet with the colostrum.  I think I’ll stop giving her the menthol bib at night, since she has no problems breathing, and we’ll finish out the aurum metallicum amount we have and keep an eye on her.  She’s a happy and healthy dog now!!

Final Thoughts
Again, this is just a testimonial of what worked for us.  I’m writing and posting this because I’m pretty disgusted with the limited information out there on nasal aspergillosis and how it all directs a person to go straight to these invasive and expensive diagnostics and treatments... no alternatives or options.  In addition, these treatments may not be the right path, for they may not work (or may need repeated procedures to take affect)… but vets won’t look at any other options.  We were seeking out a way to get Molly's immune system to be able to recognize the infection and fight it off... I think we accomplished that.  If we would have blindly listened to the vets, I don’t think Molly would be the healthy and happy dog she is today.  I hope and pray this helps someone struggling with trying to help their pet in this kind of a situation.

Below are a compilation of several of the websites with more information on nasal aspergillosis, colostrum, and aurum metallicum.