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How To Prevent Valley Fever in Dogs

Valley fever is a serious respiratory illness that can harm both people and animals, including dogs, cats, and livestock. Our veterinarians in Los Angeles discuss the effects of valley fever in dogs and provide tips on how to prevent it.

What Is Valley Fever in Dogs?

Coccidioidomycosis, commonly known as Valley Fever, is a condition that affects dogs, cats, livestock, and humans. It is caused by a fungus called Coccidioides immitis, which thrives in certain desert regions of the United States. Central and Southern Arizona have the highest incidence of Valley Fever in dogs.

In some parts of Arizona, it is estimated that 6-10% of dogs will develop symptoms of Valley Fever. At Ambassador Dog & Cat Hospital, our veterinarians see Valley Fever in both dogs and cats, although it is less common in cats. It is estimated that for every 50 cases of Valley Fever in dogs, our Los Angeles vets will see only one case in cats.

How Do Dogs Contract Valley Fever?

Pets can contract Valley Fever by inhaling specific fungal spores. In dogs, these spores can develop into round structures inside their lungs. Dogs with a robust and stable immune system can contain the spherules, preventing symptoms from appearing.

This means that the pet may have the disease, but remain asymptomatic. However, if a dog is young, old, or has a weak immune system, these structures will continue to grow until they rupture.

When they do, they release numerous small spores that can spread throughout the lungs and other body parts, exacerbating the condition.

Is Valley Fever Contagious From One Dog to Another?

Valley Fever in dogs and cats is not contagious between pets and can only be contracted through the inhalation of spores.

What Are The Symptoms of Valley Fever in Dogs?

In the early stages, when the spherules are contained within the lungs, symptoms of Valley Fever in dogs typically include:

  • Fever
  • Dry cough
  • Decreased appetite
  • Lethargy
Once the fungal spores have spread to other parts of your dog's body, the symptoms of Valley Fever may worsen, leading to more severe signs in dogs. 
  • Painful swollen joints
  • Persistent fever
  • Weight loss
  • Eye inflammation
  • Blindness

Valley Fever can cause seizures in rare severe cases if the fungus reaches the brain.

If your dog is displaying symptoms of Valley Fever, it is essential to seek veterinary care as quickly as possible to avoid serious health complications.

What Are the Treatment Options For Valley Fever in Dogs?

Treating dogs with Valley Fever will typically include an anti-fungal medication such as fluconazole (Diflucan®) or itraconazole (Itrafungol® and Sporanox®). Dogs may also be treated with ketoconazole (Nizoral®).

Treatment of Valley Fever in pets takes time. Most pets will remain on anti-fungal medication for a minimum of 6 - 12 months, but if the condition has spread throughout their body, there is a chance that they will need to remain on anti-fungal medications for life. 

What Are Some Ways That Valley Fever in Dogs Can Be Prevented?

People living in the valley are more susceptible to contracting Valley Fever. To protect your furry friend from this disease, it is important to take them for regular veterinary check-ups, feed them a balanced and nutritious diet, and keep them indoors during windy weather. A healthy dog is more likely to have a stronger immune system, which can help fend off infections and illnesses more effectively.

When it comes to keeping your dog safe, you can take some steps like:

  • When the weather is windy or there are dust storms, you should keep your dog inside.
  • If it is windy outside, keeping your windows closed would be beneficial to prevent spores from entering your home.
  • If you have recently experienced rain, keeping your dog from playing outside may be a good idea.
  • Utilizing grass, gravel, or other dust-controlling ground covers in your yard can help prevent the spores from becoming airborne.
  • Provide your dog with an air filtration mask.

What is the Prognosis For Dogs That Contract Valley Fever?

  • Valley Fever is a serious condition that affects dogs. If it is detected and treated in its initial stages, most dogs recover. However, if the disease has already spread to other parts of the dog's body, it becomes more challenging to treat and may even become life-threatening.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog sick or urgently needs a vet's attention? Contact our vets in Los Angeles immediately to get your dog checked.

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