Rescue a Golden of Arizona

Need lower cost vet care?

dr kelly logoFor some time, Rescue a Golden has been sending our rescued Golden Retrievers to Dr. Kelly’s Surgical Unit whenever possible for spay/neuter procedures. They have provided excellent service and care, and their prices are very reasonable. Dr. Kelly’s is also open to the public. They have 3 clinics in the Phoenix area and one in Tucson. If your furry friend needs surgery or dental work and the prices at your regular vet take your breath away, check out Dr. Kelly’s.
As they say on their website:

“Dr. Kelly’s offers affordable surgery, low cost and dental care for pets in the Phoenix, Peoria, Mesa, and Tucson, Arizona areas. We are a team of pet owners and veterinarians who believe all pet owners should have access to affordable care for their companions. Our team of qualified veterinarians loves animals. You and your furry companion are in good hands with Dr. Kelly’s.
With thousands of 5-star reviews, you can trust Dr. Kelly’s to take exceptional care of your precious companions.”

Valley Fever vaccine will be available in 2024!


Valley fever is a disease caused by a fungus knowngolden with vet facing rightAdobeStock 115164496 as Coccidiodes immitis. Although the proper name for this disease is coccidioidomycosis, it is most often called valley fever, California disease, desert rheumatism, or San Joaquin valley fever.  It is caused by spores in the ground that become airborne.

Valley Fever (VF) spores are everywhere. Everyone inhales them all of the time. The determination about whether or person or animal contracts Valley Fever from the spores is totally dependent on their immune system.

The symptoms of Valley fever are:

  • Lethargy
  • Hacking cough
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lameness
  • Fever

Though most cases are caused by inhaling the spores, direct inoculation is also possible.  This can result from stepping on a sharp rock or stick that contains the spores.  That version of VF is contained within a localized infection and becomes a sore that won’t heal.  If your dog presents with something of that nature, do have testing done to eliminate VF as a possibility.

syringe and bottle graphic AdobeStock 269677956Diagnosing VF is done in a methodical manner by veterinarians:

  • Review animal history and look for clinical signs.
  • VF test
  1. Tests for antibodies—having antibodies does not confirm diagnosis as it may be from an earlier infection.
  2. IgM antibodies typically develop shortly after an infection, are usually detectable within one to 3 weeks of the onset of symptom and start to disappear at about 5 weeks. As IgM antibodies fade, IgG antibodies set in.
  3. IgG antibodies can remain detectable for up to a year after treatment. Antibody tests can aid in diagnosing VF as well as helping to differentiate it from other conditions that present with similar symptoms.
  • CBC (complete blood count) will test for any other organ deficiencies.
  • X rays—VF settles most commonly in the lungs but can also be found in the bones, eye, and brain
  • Lung biopsy may be necessary.

The VF test can result in a finding of a titer such as 1:2, 1:4, 1:8, etc. up to 1:256 which is the highest titer that will evidence itself.  The VF titer number is most often of little consequence.  Dogs with a 1:4 can be symptomatic while a dog with a 1:128 titer may show no evidence of the disease.  It all goes back to the immune system of the dog being able to fight or succumb to the disease.


Treatment of Valley Fever

  • The primary drug of choice to treat VF is Fluconazole (Diflucan). Fluconazole is the most well tolerated by most animals and can be combined with a number of medications that the dog may already be taking.  Fluconazole does not kill the fungus, but only weakens it.  Fluconazole is given twice per day and patients usually start to feel better in a few weeks.  This is a longer-term medication that typically requires treatment for 8 to 10 months.
  • Ketoconazole and Itraconazole are other drugs that may be used alone or in conjunction with Fluconazole.
  • Treatment with additional medications to reduce fever will help keep the animal more comfortable. Steroids or appetite stimulants may also be prescribed to help the dog eat.
  • Amphotericin B is an injectable treatment for dogs that do not respond to conventional care and are more serious and life-threatening. This drug works by slowing the growth of fungi in the system.
  • For typical treatment of VF, after 8 to 10 months, the dog should be taken off the drug for one month and then have a retest.
  • Dogs with severe cases especially for those who evidence brain or bone disease may need to remain on fluconazole for life.


Supplements that are promoted to be effective against VF are not. They cannot target VF, nor the t-cells involved with the disease.  They may help slightly with immunity but are unlikely to have any real impact.


Any dog breed may develop VF, but Boxers seem to be especially vulnerable.  Areas near construction sites can certainly unearth spores.  Often after a haboob (dust storm), more cases become evident in 3 months’ time.  Rainstorms are responsible for aerosolization of spores giving way to further VF spikes.


The good news is that a Valley Fever vaccine will be available later this year.  Dr. Lisa Shubitz, at the University of Arizona Valley Fever Center for Excellence and the doctors at UC Davis in CA have made this possible.     At this point, the vaccine will be used to prevent VF, but it may be that it will help in treatment of the disease.  The evidence is that it is not just an antibody response but helping the dog’s own white cells do their job.  It does not contain a chemical stimulant making it safe for dogs who are immunosuppressed.   Veterinary offices and clinics will have more information as time goes on. 


Article written by Judy Smith, Vet Team Manager, RAGofAZ

Information courtesy of Dr. Josh Sosnow at North Scottsdale Animal Hospital, Scottsdale, AZ.

December: Meet Ginger

12 December Ginger

Ginger …. the queen of our household.

Ginger was adopted in July 2013 when she was 7 months old. We already had the name Ginger in mind even before we met her. And guess what, it was perfect! She is as spicy as a chunk of ginger! So here she is……Ginger!

Ginger is not a typical Golden who loves attention, kisses, or hugs from humans all day long. She is super independent and has a very “cool” personality. Like her name Ginger, she was such a wild child from day one. She would destroy everything she could get at in the house, when we were not home. She would make a mess in our backyard by taking things out and chewing them into pieces. Did I mention that she chewed on rocks and dug all day long? Luckily, as time went by, all her bad behaviors just simply went away like magic! Since then, she has grown into a super loving girl showing the true side of Ginger.

We celebrated our 11th Gotcha Anniversary this past July. Ginger is still spicy, but in a goofy way, bringing so much joy, laughter and fun to our family every single day. Since we spoil her so much our family adopts the Golden rule “what Ginger wants, Ginger gets .” This month we celebrate her 12th birthday, and we hope all of you can join us in wishing her much happiness, good health and many more birthdays to come.

November: Meet Fenway

11 November Fenway

Meet Fenway, named after the iconic Fenway Park.

We had been wanting a puppy for our three year old Golden and Fenway has been amazing for Cooper. My husband has never had a puppy in his life and I knew this would be a life changing experience for him. He tells everyone that this is “his boy.” We just can’t believe how fortunate we are with our fur family.

Fenway was one of Sasha’s babies and on Christmas Eve we got the best present ever with a text asking if we would be interested in one of them. Fenway has brought so much to our family. Besides being extremely handsome, he’s incredibly smart and so loving. We can’t imagine not having him in our lives. His bond with Cooper becomes tighter every day and their love for each other shines. Fenway is the epitome of having the “heart of a Golden.”

We really need to give a lot of credit to Toby & Robin Fox for their love and care during the eight weeks they had him. They are truly amazing.

We can’t thank Rescue A Golden of Arizona enough. We’ve gotten Cooper and Fenway from them and we can hardly express our gratitude in words.

October: Meet Buoy

10 October Buoy

Buoy is one of the fifteen 2023 golden retrievers lovingly rescued from China. After much anticipation and international customs complications, he arrived at Phoenix Sky Harbor on February 14th, Valentine’s Day … how appropriate! Friends come in many shapes and sizes.

When we opened the door to the XL crate, we were in total awe as an even larger XXL “friend” popped out and smothered us in kisses. Buoy loves life! And there is nothing he wants to do more than go for car rides. He is our observer and soaks everything in.

It has been a joy to watch him slowly relax and realize that he is home. Buoy loves to explore outside, preferably while holding a pinecone. His “zoomies” are a daily tradition as he runs and runs around the yard barking with glee. In true form, he also enjoys quietly sitting on the top step of the swimming pool while taking everything in. And then it’s back to playtime with his favorite toys! On February 14th, Buoy’s huge paws walked right into our hearts, and it is true love for us all.

September: Meet Spicy

09 September Spicy

Hi! I’m Spicy! I’m one of the long-awaited Chinese Goldens. It took me a really long time to get here but I’m so glad I finally made it. I think my parents and brother are pretty happy I made it too. I arrived on Valentine’s Day and my momma said I stole their hearts, so I guess that’s a good thing! My parents had another dog before me that was sick for a while so when I got here it really changed their lives! Now we can go for really long walks, play in the yard and my parents tell me that this summer I’m going to the beach! I went once already and I loved the sand and the surf so a whole summer there is going to be Amazeballs!! BTW … did I tell you I love to play ball?!

I also have a brother, Nixon! He showed me the ropes when I got here but I quickly learned he had a hard start to life and that he’s a pretty nervous fella. Even though he’s a big guy he’s kinda scared of things so I’ve become his protector. I’m never too far from his side because I want to make sure he’s safe and comfortable. And talk about comfortable…did I tell you how comfortable his bed is? And my parents’ bed is? I really love it here and my parents tell me how much they love me too.

Thanks RAGofAZ!

August: Meet Quincy & Harley

08 August Quincy Harley

Quincy and Harley

Quincy came into rescue in November 2017 at the age of 9. We had just lost 2 of our golden boys, Sherman and Barkley. Our remaining Golden, Reagan, was lonely and needed a new friend. Quincy was described as a playful boy, who loved people, dogs and loved swimming.

At nearly 15 years of age, he is still very excited when people come to the house. He has enjoyed the pool over the years, although now he would rather just take a nap. Quincy still loves walks and car rides, particularly if they are to DQ for a pup cup. He still loves his stuffed toys, especially his duck and his new pineapple but no longer chases after balls.

Knowing that our time with Quincy is short, we cherish each day with him. He has been a wonderful addition to our family.

Harley, who was abandoned, brought his light and love into our lives in February 2010 at just 1 ½ years old. We wondered how anyone could have left this beautiful boy who only wanted to be loved. He quickly settled into life on our ranch in Vail, AZ with his new canine sisters as well as horses, steers and abundant desert wildlife.

After my husband Dennis died several years ago, Harley, his brothers, and I moved into a house near the outskirts of town and Harley discovered he also likes sidewalks and the people walking on them! At nearly 15 years old, he walks over 2 miles 4-5 days a week and still chases his favorite toy like the pup he was when he first arrived.

Our family is so blessed to have been given the gift that is Harley. As I tell him every day, he is the “best doggie in the whole wide world.”

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