Gilchrist's disease symptoms can vary in form depending on how exactly the dog is infected.
Gilchrist's disease, more commonly referred to as blastomycosis, is a fungal disease that affects both dogs and humans—Dogs, however, are around 10 times more likely to contract the infection than humans are. Simply inhaling the fungal spores that populate the natural soil habitat of the Blastomyces dermatitidis organism, after which it multiplies and spreads to various other bodily organs, contracts it.
The disease can affect various parts of the body, and in dogs, these areas include the eyes, brain, bones, lungs and skin.
Blastomycosis has an incubation period that can last anywhere between 30 and 100 days, and there have also been cases of the infection being asymptomatic. The fungal organism responsible for the disease is found in sandy areas rich with acid-laden soil, usually near areas with lots of water such as rivers valleys.
All dog breeds can contract blastomycosis. However, there are certain breeds that are at greater risk than others. For the most part, these include dog breeds that are often used for outdoorsy purposes.
Young hunting dogs and dogs used for field trials are more likely to be put at risk of inhaling the spores of the fungus than other dogs are. Moreover, it seems that males are more vulnerable to the disease than females are, although the exact reason behind this is currently unknown.
However, studies indicate that even though female dogs are more likely to survive after having contracted blastomycosis and receiving dog first aid, they also have a greater chance of experiencing relapse than males do.
Which Gilchrist's disease symptoms appear has a lot to do with which organs are infected. If the Blastomyces dermatitidis infection targets the eyes, for example, then the symptoms will come in the form of an eye infection. If the skin of the dog is targeted, then it's possible that the animal will develop bloody lesions or enlarged lymph nodes.
Gilchrist's disease symptoms may also manifest in the form of behaviors and afflictions common to other illnesses that target dogs.
These include high fever that can't be treated with antibiotics, as well as things such as lethargy that causes the dog to develop an aversion to physical activity.
The animal may also suffer from depression, making it less affectionate than it normally would be. Weight loss, even to the point of emaciation, is also frequently reported for dogs with blastomycosis.
Amphotericin B is the usual treatment for this disease, and is widely considered to be the best choice for dogs stricken with a life-threatening case of Gilchrist's disease.
However, this drug often has a negative effect on the dog's kidneys, and therapy is often delayed until the organ heals itself up. Because blastomycosis is a disease that can be contracted by both dogs and human beings, it is strongly advised that those with poor immune systems refrain from handling sick dogs, which puts them at risk of contracting the illness.