Canine Valley Fever

| Modified: Sep 15, 2016
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Coccidioidomycosis, commonly known as valley fever, is a disease that can be contracted by dogs in the southwestern United States. By being informed about the cause and symptoms associated with valley fever, early treatment can be sought and your dog can go on to lead a normal life.

Cause
Valley fever in dogs is caused by the fungus Coccidioides immitis, which lives in the desert soils of California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. The spores become airborne when the soil is disturbed and is inhaled into the lungs. These spores then proliferate inside the lungs. The disease occurs when a dog’s immune system cannot kill the spores fast enough. Sometime, the spores may spread from the lungs to the rest of the body. Approximately 30% of dogs who inhale the spores will develop valley fever.

Symptoms
Early symptoms of valley fever in dogs include loss of appetite and energy, coughing, fever, and weight loss. If the disease spreads past the lungs, symptoms will include swelling, seizures, lameness, pain in the back and neck region, and skin ulcerations.

Treatment
Treatment with antifungal medication is used and can continue for a 6 to 12 month period. The 3 most common medications are Ketoconazole, Fluconazole, and Itaconazole. Because it tends to be absorbed the best and has fewer side effects, Fluconazole is frequently used. Ketoconazole needs vitamin C to help with absorption, and skin reactions are common with Itrconazole.

Presently, holistic treatment of valley fever in dogs has not been tested. If holistic methods are used, it is usually used in combination with an antifungal medication to support the dogs overall health. It is best to consult with a holistic veterinarian about the various options available.

Prognosis
The prognosis for valley fever in dogs is generally good, especially if caught early. If the disease spread through the body, medication may be required for life. A dog can relapse once treatment is over, and if it occurs more than once, they may also require lifelong treatment.

If you suspect your dog may have valley fever, please seek medical attention right away. By catching and treating this disease early, your dog has an excellent chance of leading a long, happy, and healthy life.