Dogs are very susceptible to a disease known as Valley Fever. This illness is triggered by a fungus that lives in the soil of hot, dry climates. Due to a dog’s proximity to the ground, they are more likely to fall prey to the illness.
The good news is that if you act as soon as you see the symptoms, your dog will likely have a good prognosis. The symptoms vary from fever to vomiting and diarrhea. Your pup may also suffer from severe joint pain and pain in the back or neck area.
If you see any or all of the symptoms below in your dog, you need to get them medical treatment. If you want to learn more regarding the signs of dog Valley Fever, read this article.
What is Canine Valley Fever?
Valley Fever is a life-threatening fungal disease that dogs can encounter when spending time outdoors. It is common in the soil in dry, hot places. Some of the places in the United States where Valley Fever exists include:
- New Mexico
Valley Fever is instigated by a fungus called Coccidioides immitis. Canine Valley Fever is also known as Coccidioidomycosis. Once your dog inhales the fungal spores, it begins to attack your pup’s immune system.
The fungi live in desert areas and are often observed in the dust. Dogs will go digging in the dirt, as they like to do, and they inhale the spores of the fungi, which triggers an infection. It is also important to note that even if your dog spends most of their time inside, they can still come into contact with the spores. When the spores are inhaled, they develop into spherules, which expand until they burst and release a cloud of endospores.
Spherules are microscopic structures that have many other endospores. The endospores are released and grow into more spherules, continuing the cycle. As the process persists, the infection becomes worse. Dogs catch Valley Fever when they dig around the spot where the fungus lives.
Dogs with weaker immune systems are more vulnerable to getting very sick from Valley Fever. Young puppies and senior canines are also susceptible. The disease is not contagious.
Your dog cannot give the illness to other animals or your family. However, Valley Fever can also infect humans in a similar way that it infects animals.
What is the Difference between Primary and Disseminated Disease?
There are two types of Valley Fever in dogs. These include primary and disseminated diseases.
Primary Valley Fever
The primary disease settles in the lungs, and it may go away on its own. If your dog gets it, they may need medication. Some of the symptoms of the primary disease include:
- A dry, harsh cough
- Fever over 103
- Lack of appetite
Your dog may develop pneumonia as the symptoms progress.
Disseminated Valley Fever
Once Valley Fever has spread to other parts of the body, it becomes a disseminated disease. The fungus has spread throughout the body. This spread can cause more intense symptoms, such as:
- Back or neck pain
- Swollen lymph nodes under the chin or in front of the shoulder blades
In disseminated Valley Fever, the joints may also be affected. You must get your dog to the vet for treatment right away, as this is a serious condition, and your dog’s life could be in danger.
Symptoms of Valley Fever Further Explained
Valley Fever has many symptoms, including:
Elevated body temperature is one of the initial signs of infection. Dogs with Valley Fever often have a temperature above 102 degrees.
Coughing is typical if your dog is infected. The cough is similar to kennel cough, so it is sometimes misdiagnosed.
Lack of Energy
If your pup has Valley Fever, they may be sleeping more and showing reluctance to play or get exercise. Their energy levels are usually deficient.
Lack of Appetite
Your dog may feel uncomfortable and not want to eat anything. If they are not eating due to vomiting and a lack of appetite, they may lose weight.
Your dog may have pain and swelling in the joints, which is often accompanied by lameness, which will cause them to walk abnormally on one or more limbs.
Seizures or Back/Neck Pain
Valley Fever targets the central nervous system. When the disease travels to the spinal column, it can trigger pain in the back or neck.
Your pup’s gut is affected by Valley Fever, as the fungus will often attack their gastrointestinal system. They may also experience extreme nausea, which can cause vomiting.
If your dog has severe Valley Fever, they can develop inflammation under the skin which may turn into wounds when scratched. The swellings and wounds may discharge a yellow-reddish fluid if left untreated.
Swollen Lymph Nodes
When there is an infection, lymph nodes will swell as the immune system tries to fight off the illness.
When Valley Fever spreads, it can even affect the eyes. Dogs may experience inflammation of the eyelids.
What is the Treatment for Canine Valley Fever?
If your canine is sick enough to require treatment from your veterinarian, a few options are available. The following explains the treatment of canine Valley Fever.
Anti-fungal medication is the treatment for canine valley fever. Your dog will be given anti-fungal medication for six to twelve months. Dogs whose joints are wearing down or have disseminated disease in the bones, skin, or internal organs typically need to be on the medication longer.
If the central nervous system has been affected by the illness, it typically entails lifetime treatment to prevent the symptoms from recurring. The three medications used to treat Valley Fever in dogs includes the following:
- Diflucan (fluconazole)
- Sporanox (itraconazole)
- Nizoral (ketoconazole)
These medications are all similar in their way of action. However, they differ in some of their chemical attributes and their metabolism.
What Are Supportive Treatments for Dogs with Valley Fever?
Medications will help heal the infection. However, you also want to ensure that your dog receives the best care possible, and the following supportive treatments can assist your pup with recovery.
Your dog may have a nasty cough as one of their symptoms.. Your veterinarian might prescribe cough medicine to help relieve your pet’s discomfort.
Pain and Fever Medicine
Pain or fever relief medication may also be prescribed during this time, which will help ease your pup’s pain and reduce their suffering.
Many pups do not feel like eating when they have this illness. However, they may require medications to help with nausea and vomiting, which may promote appetite.
Your dog may feel too sick to eat or drink, which can cause severe dehydration. They may require hospitalization to be given intravenous fluids and medications.
If you live near an area where Valley Fever is prevalent, you must take extra precautions for your dog’s health. Limit their exposure to soil and airborne dust. There is a Valley Fever vaccine being tested currently and it may be available in the future.
Try to keep your pup in the house as much as possible and walk them on safe, paved walkways. If you take action as soon as you see any of the above symptoms, you may save your pet’s life.
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