Fungal Infections and the use of Itraconazole in Pets
Any mammal can contract fungi through the air, soil, or contaminated food at any time. Fungal parasites are single-celled organisms ingested either orally or inhaled. Certain fungi are directly responsible for certain systemic diseases.
Itraconazole is a prescription antifungal drug used to fight systemic fungal infections in cats and dogs. How common are they? Because these organisms grow slowly and are difficult to control, the drugs must be administered for a protracted period of time. Unlike antibiotics, medications which kill yeast and fungi are often prescribed for several weeks, even months.
When an infection has been confirmed, veterinarians often prescribe Itraconazole for serious illnesses demanding long-term treatment. You dog’s veterinarian will most likely recommend a powerful antifungal to be taken on a regular basis for at least two months. Only after all symptoms have subsided can the treatment be safely discontinued.
How to Administer Itraconazole Medication to Pets
Just as with people, drug schedules and dosages must be adjusted based on age, weight, and the severity of the condition or disease. It is the job of your veterinarian to determine exactly how much and how often your dog or cat should take this medicine. For most pets, the easiest and most effective way to give Itraconazole is to put it in food. But if you happen to miss giving a dose, do not double it to catch up, since the medication is quite potent.
In order to improve absorption, it is often a good idea to pair Itraconazole with a high-fat food, such as cheese, butter, or fatty meats. The medication should be administered until otherwise advised by your veterinarian. Failing to complete the full treatment will greatly increase the risk of recrudescence, i.e., the disease may come back!
Side effects of Itraconazole in Pets
Almost all drugs have the potential of side effects. Fortunately, Itraconazole has fewer than most. The most common side effects are loss of appetite and liver toxicity, both of which are quite rare. That said, these side effects should always be reported to your veterinarian as soon as possible. Failure to do so could result in more serious health problems over the course of the treatment.
Precautions of Itraconazole Use in Pets
Like all prescription drugs, Itraconazole should be kept out of the reach of children. It should only ever be administered according to your veterinarian’s express directions. The medication should only be given to the animal for which it was prescribed and never to another pet or person. Because it is passed through the milk, Itraconazole is generally not prescribed to pregnant pets.
Interactions of Itraconazole with Other Medications in Pets
Generally safe to take with other medications, the effectiveness of Itraconazole may be greatly reduced if the patient is taking antacids or drugs used to decrease stomach acid, since it will limit the amount of Itraconazole absorbed. Pet owners should consult their vets before they administer Itraconazole in conjunction with another prescription drug or even a supplement.
Overdose Warnings of Itraconazole in Pets
As class of drugs, antifungals are quite powerful. If an animal accidentally ingests more than prescribed it is imperative to contact your local Animal Poison Control Center immediately. Make sure you bring the prescription container with you when your pet is taken in for emergency treatment.
Whenever there is any sign of a serious systemic fungal infection, Itraconazole is the most commonly prescribed drug at the outset. Because it can be used to combat a whole host of infections, including blastomycosis, aspergillosis, cryptoccocosis, and more, the drug is considered a sort of panaceas where fungal infections are concerned. Of course, once the doctors complete additional tests and they are able to identify the infection, they my combine Itraconazole with an injectable antibiotic for up to one month.
Which Pets are at Risk of Contracting a Fungal Infection?
Aspergillosis is the most common type of fungal infection and is found in grass clippings, hay, straw, and dust. It is considered an opportunistic disease because it targets both cats and dogs and is nearly ubiquitous in some environments. As a general rule, it is much more common in younger pets, since they have immature immune systems to fight off the invading infection. Because they have longer heads and noses and more sensitive nasal cavities, dogs are more likely to suffer from these infections than cats.
Has your pet suffered from a fungal infection where Itraconazole was used? Are there any lessons from the experience you would like to share with us? Please leave any comments you have below.