Pet Owners Beware: How To Recognize and Treat Valley Fever

Dogs can bring boundless love and joy into your life. They are always there for you whether you want to play, go for a walk, or need a hug. The relationship between a dog and its owner is a beautiful thing, and in order to preserve this wonderful connection, you should be aware of potential risks and warning signs that your pup isn’t feeling well. While there are many illnesses and injuries that can threaten the health of your pet, here in Arizona one disease, in particular, should be a cause for concern: valley fever.

To protect your dog’s health, here is what every dog owner needs to know about Valley Fever symptoms and treatment.

Symptoms

Valley fever results from a fungus found in desert areas, so those of you who live in such a climate, take particular care in recognizing these symptoms. There are two different forms that this disease can take, each of which presents differently:

  • Primary valley fever generally presents three weeks following initial contact with the fungus, most notably as a persistent cough. This is soon accompanied by a fever and overall decline in mood. You may notice your dog has stopped eating as well or displays a sudden lethargy or disinterest.
  • Disseminated valley fever is much worse. This is the result of the disease spreading throughout your dog’s body, typically to bones and joints. When Valley Fever spreads, it causes severe pain. In extreme cases, dogs can lose the use of their legs altogether. Left untreated, it can even spread to your dog’s nervous system, a development that can often be fatal. If you haven’t already, call an emergency vet or go to your nearest emergency animal hospital as soon as you spot any signs of strange behavior or pain.
    Both manifestations of valley fever are extremely dangerous to your dog’s well being, and if you suspect any of the above symptoms have presented, please do not hesitate to call your veterinarian!

Treatment

The standard protocol for treating Valley Fever depends on how far the disease has progressed. Your veterinarian will take blood samples and potentially x-rays to diagnose your pet, then decide upon the proper treatment and duration or care. Valley Fever is almost always treated through antifungal medication, and based on how far the disease has progressed, it can last anywhere from 6 months to a lifetime. The earlier you catch this disease, the shorter treatment will typically have to last.

Always be aware that your dog needs constant care alongside constant love and attention. To ensure your dog is living a happy and healthy life, always be on guard for signs of a pet emergency like Valley Fever. It’s recommended to schedule two check-ups with your veterinarian annually, but always have a local animal hospital and emergency veterinarian in mind. To help prepare you for situations like canine Valley Fever, keep an open dialogue with your veterinarian about risks and important symptoms to watch for. Dogs have a special connection with humans, and it is our duty to love and safeguard our furry best friends.