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Discussion Starter #1
After several days of trying to figure out the cause of the boys' mysterious fungal infection, I think I've finally hit the wall. I'm mentally exhausted. :(

My question has been, could they have gotten this fungal infection from the mulch we brought in that has been growing mushrooms and fungi like there's no tomorrow? It appears fungi is a very complicated subject. We've asked all the master gardeners we know, I've called a vet dermatologist, and everyone is totally blanking.

So, I guess now I need to figure out whether we should remove the mulch we have in the backyard, just in case.

Most people seem to think it's not a really big deal...the attitude is like, "So, your dogs have a fungal infection...this is a problem why?" But when it's YOUR dogs with the fungal infection, well, I'm just trying to do everything I can to help them.

But sadly, I can't (and shouldn't) remove all fungi from the earth.

Simon's feet look SO awful. He now has no hair left on the tops of all four. Angus' feet at least have not changed much so far. No major hair loss, just patchy hair loss.

I guess the bottom line is, what I maybe need to be focusing on in the way of prevention is figuring out some routine for cleaning their feet when they come inside. I'm considering bottles of 50/50 water and vinegar and towels at both doors. Does this sound like a plan? Other ideas?

Thanks for listening. I'm so bummed out for the boys. I just wish I had a definitive solution to all this.
 

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I'm so sorry that this is still a mystery. You must be so frustrated.

Can you remove the mulch and replace it with stones/pebbles? Something less likely to support the growth of the fungus? Just a thought.

FWIW - I had fungal dermatitis on my hands for a long time - it was stress related. I finally got it healed by wearing white gloves to bed every night with my hands slathered in cortisone cream. Mine started with tiny painful blisters which led to peeling red nasty leprosy looking hands - which would heal up and then start all over again I still have little flare ups on my fingers now and then - but no major reoccurrance.

Have you tried cortisone and sox on his feet? Maybe wrapping them around the sox?
 

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I don't know if this would help or hurt. Maybe somebody like labby would know better than me. But how about trying the purple stuff we use for their ears. Gentian Violet. It's an antifungal mixture that kills the yeast, that's why it works on the ears. Is this right? After all you guys talking about it, I bought it for Libby's ears and it works wonders. Do you think it could help your guys feet? I feel bad for them.
 

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I don't have any advice, just want to say I'll keep your puppers, and YOU in my prayers! Hope it clears up soon, just try and relax, don't stress yourself out too much (although, easier said then done!)
 

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Will vinegar kill fungus? Off to look on internet.

Connie, from what I can see fungus doesn't react to vinegar. I think I would keep a bottle of bleach water 5% bleach 95% water. I know bleach is a base and kills fungus that is what makes me wonder about vinegar as it is an acid.

I honestly think basic soap and water and drying the feet would work. You are trying to remove the source not kill what is already established.


Have you checked their food. I still wonder if you got a bag that is contaminated or if the manufacture changed to a cheaper formula and you are getting corn or something the boys don't like. I know when I took Cinnamon off the corn based food it cleared the fungus in her ears up. It started 3 weeks after I switched her to the dog food.

I now feed grain free to be sure this doesn't happen again. Cinnamon and Cierra eat Nature's Variety Instinct (chicken) and I have never had a problem. The web site has a store locator. And because it is grain free you feed less so a 25 pound bag last as long as a 40 pound of regular kibble and you have less poop to pick up.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Karon, I think vinegar does kill fungus. That's one of my questions: Should I just treat the mulch with vinegar? And, part two of that question, will it kill the plants?

Or, do I just need to get that mulch the heck out of there and hope it's finished. My dog food lady (talked to her at lunch) is leaning this way.

I just left a message with UT Vet Teaching Hospital Dermatology dept. They said one of the assistants there would call me back!

joflake, I also think that Gentian Violet would work. I am going to start using that on Simon's ears too. :) But right now they're on an antifungal spray, so I don't really want to add anything else to the mix. But I think the purple stuff, or vinegar, might be the ticket once we can get this under control.

BigBrownDog, that's a good thought about replacing with pebbles. I might be doing that. Either that, or pine straw, which they say is more acidic and less likely to grow fungus. But the down side of pine straw is, some dogs react to the sap.

Sigh. Well, thanks y'all! I feel better just knowing someone cares and is sympathetic to the problem!! I also feel better after I ate something. LOL

I'll have to post a picture of Simon's feet later. You won't believe it.
 

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Connie is the mulch dyed? Could they be having a reaction to some chemical in the mulch that is making them bother their feet, thus creating a situation where a fungal infection can arise (moist from licking, warm, etc.).

I think the fungus could come from the mulch, but I don't think it's the same thing that you're seeing with the naked eye (mushrooms and that other stuff). Could you let us know what the dermatologist says also?

Lots of good thoughts for you and the boys :) (And thank you for the PM too! We're going to look at Volvos)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
woo hoo! :D Have fun Volvo shopping!

Karon, we must have posted at the same time or something.

Hmmm...now you have me curious about the vinegar as well. You're totally right, it makes sense that if bleach works, then vinegar shouldn't, right?

But here's another thing as long as we're talking about acidity: Gardeners are recommending pine straw mulch, because it's "more acidic and less likely to host fungus."

Confusing confusing! The more I try to understand this, the more I'm confused!

I did think about food. They are both on grain-free and have been for a long time. They've been on Taste of the Wild for several months now. Before that it was Timberwolf for a long time. I wonder if TOTW has changed formulas? Well, that's probably not it either, as Simon just recently switched to Natural Balance Limited Ingredient (right before all this happened, in an attempt to address minor allergy issues with him).

I would be suspicious of the Natural Balance, if it wasn't Angus too.

With both of them reacting, and neither of them on the same food right now, it just almost has to be environmental.

Anyway - yes, if this dermatologist calls me back I will definitely give a report!
 

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Connie, I really do not see how a fungus in the mulch can cause a fungus on their feet. Fungus needs a hot, humid condition ... along with the fungus spores to grow. You take one of those away and the fungus cannot grow.

Fungus in mulch is from decaying matter. Other wise, your mulch is breaking down. You can also bring fungus in the soil on new plants. That is a natural occurring advent.

You can also get fungus in your lawn. That is very common. But I have never heard of any plant fungus growing on animals. Notice I said growing ON ... some fungus/molds will get into lungs and cause problems.

Spraying vinegar can ... and will kill plants!!! It is use as a natural weed/grass killer.

Can the vet doing scraping to find out exactly what fungus the dogs have? You do know, ringworm is also a fungus?
 

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connie, right now you should be using the washing their feet with the malaseb at least every day; probably twice a day. that will get rid of it. do you have the spray or the shampoo? if the shampoo; wash their feet in it and dry every day and then wipe their paws after they come in front outside.
i agree with sue and she is a gardner expert. i have nothing but mulch and rock in my backyard. if the mulch fairly new or has it been down for a while? where else have they both been together? it's basically athletes feet but in doggies.
try not to stress out; it's been a very humid and damp year but do use that malaseb faithfully.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hi Sue :) I was hoping you'd see this!

Well, the whole basis of my theory is this: Vet says Simon's slide is "loaded with fungal spores." I remember that I have seen many fruiting bodies of an astounding variety of fungi in my mulch. Sooo, I connect the dots and that's what I came up with. The vet thought so too, but he's not a mycologist obviously.

That was my big question: Can plant fungus grow on animals? And I do notice you said ON...I had also noticed the really scary fungis cause respiratory symptoms.

Sadly, the vet cannot ID my fungus. :( He just knows it's a fungus. If I had an ID, I would sure feel better about all this. Oh, and yes on knowing about ringworm...vet is culturing for that, just to be safe. He did say if I can find somewhere that can ID my fungus, he'll send a slide.

It's just...all four feet, both dogs. That's what's making me think it's something they stepped in or on.

You don't think that it's possible to get a fungus on your (or a dog's) skin from some fungus that came in with the mulch?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Sandy, we have the spray, and I'm using twice a day. Also the Ketaconozole (or however you spell it). That's 200 mg 1x per day.

The mulch is new, and that's what I guess is freaking me out about it. I had kind of a bad feeling about it when we got it, but blew it off and used it anyway. A lot of the bags were VERY wet when we ripped them open. It didn't smell sour, so I thought it probably wouldn't be harmful.

Didn't think much else about it until all these fungal things started popping up all over the place. Seriously. It's insane. I've been gardening for 15 years, and never seen anything like it. Mushrooms of all kinds. Various fungi (slime mold, stinkhorn fungus, etc.)

We had none of this last year at this house, and I sure never had it at the other house!

I agree it's been so unbelievably wet and rainy for SO long, though. I was just loving it at first - woo hoo! Watering my plants so I don't have to! Yay! Then the dogs came down with this, and I'm thinking, if there is some kind of fungus out there that they are picking up, all this rain is sure not going to make it go away. :(
 

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if you have it down thick(the mulch) spread it out thinner. i had my entire backyard mulched last spring; over a year ago. last year i was growing who knows what under there when it rained. it stayed wet under there forever. i had some odd looking muchrooms growing, too...and i mean odd. ;) it has thinned out considerably this year and not as much stuff growing. i don't think you need to toss it; just maybe thin it out so it can dry out better. dutch's feetsies got a tad red last year in the very beginning and i freaked as i had just spent a FORTUNE putting that stuff down. doing that, using the malaseb and wiping their paws after going out for awhile should get it under control.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
if you have it down thick(the mulch) spread it out thinner. i had my entire backyard mulched last spring; over a year ago. last year i was growing who knows what under there when it rained. it stayed wet under there forever. i had some odd looking muchrooms growing, too...and i mean odd. ;) it has thinned out considerably this year and not as much stuff growing. i don't think you need to toss it; just maybe thin it out so it can dry out better. dutch's feetsies got a tad red last year in the very beginning and i freaked as i had just spent a FORTUNE putting that stuff down. doing that, using the malaseb and wiping their paws after going out for awhile should get it under control.
Sandy, thank you! It helps me to hear that you've been through it with Dutch, and it went away, and everything was all better. I have been freaking myself out a little about this, I know. :(

We did put it on pretty thick this year. I think I should rake it around a little and get some oxygen in there.
 

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Connie,

Just wanted to tell you I have small pebble in one section of my backyard and grass in the other. The small pebble area is under a huge tree where I could never grow grass. I have not had a bit of mushroom problem in the pebble section. The grass section has been getting about 30 to 40 mushrooms per week for the past 3 weeks. It doesn't seem so bad this week. Our weather has changed and we have not had any rain this week plus we cut the grass to the lowest setting on the mower. I think this helped it dry out a lot. And as I said previously if it is a choice of pretty grass or a mushroom free lawn for the dogs we choose the mushroom free lawn.
 

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Connie, I have had a problem with fungus on the dogs in previous years here in TN. It always happened shortly after the dogs had their yearly shots and it was during a wet period. I believe the fungus is in the yard not the mulch. My neighbors also had the problem.

Ours did not clear up with topical treatment the first time. They we given some kind of shot. We give them only one shot at a time for their yearly shots and watch them to make sure their feet are dried after going outside when it is damp out. We have not had the same problem after doing that. I believe the shots lowered their immunity to the fungus.

The first time it happened we saw a new vet who was currently treating his dogs for it at the same time. It did not clear up and went to our regular vet who was able to get a handle on it.

Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks Karon. I am considering rocks back there too. And I think I will get Kevin to start cutting it a little shorter in the back, too.

Mygirls, thanks for sharing your experience. I am so happy to hear that you were able to get control of the problem. I so hope that this is a freaky, one-time thing. We only give one shot at a time too, and also do titers so nobody gets any shots that they don't need. I also believe those can lower immunity to other things.
 
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