If you have lived in Arizona any time at all, you have heard about Valley Fever. Valley Fever results from a fungus found in desert areas and is primarily found in the southwestern United States.
Veterinarians and pharmacies in the Valley are seeing an increase in dogs diagnosed with Valley Fever this year. If you or your one of your dogs have had it, you know how scary it can be.
The University of Arizona estimates that dog owners across our state spend at least $60 million each year between diagnosing, treating, and on follow-up care for their dogs with Valley Fever. Researchers estimate that about 70% of dogs who inhale Valley Fever spores control them quickly. These dogs are asymptomatic and probably immune to the disease afterwards, which is similar to what happens in people.
Symptoms to watch for vary and depend on whether your dog has primary or disseminated Valley Fever, which is much worse. Primary valley fever generally presents with a persistent cough around three weeks following initial contact with the fungus. This is soon accompanied by a fever and overall decline in mood. You may notice your dog has stopped eating as well or displays sudden lethargy or disinterest. Disseminated valley fever 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 be fatal. If you haven’t already, call an emergency vet or go to your nearest emergency animal hospital as soon as you recognize any of these symptoms.
Both manifestations of valley fever can be extremely dangerous to your dog’s well-being, and if you spot any of these symptoms or signs of strange behavior or pain, don’t wait to see your Veterinarian.