If you’ve been living in the Southwestern United States, then you’ve probably already heard of the disease called Valley Fever. Whether or not you’re new to the area, however, it’s important to familiarize yourself with Valley Fever and its signs and symptoms in dogs, especially, so you can be aware and make sure your pets are well-protected.
What Is Valley Fever and How Do Dogs Get Infected?
Valley Fever is a fungal infection caused by a fungus called Coccidiodes immitis that lives in the dirt in the ground. Valley Fever is most commonly found in south-central Arizona, but it exists in other areas of the Southwestern United States such as California, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas in addition to parts of South and Central America. All mammals are susceptible to Valley Fever, but it most commonly affects dogs.
Infectious fungal spores live in the dirt. Dogs can become infected by breathing in a few particles of the fungus that happen to be blowing around with the dust in the wind, or they can become infected when breathing in several particles of the fungus after digging or sniffing around in the dirt.
Signs and Symptoms of Valley Fever
Symptoms of Valley Fever differ depending on the stage.
Primary Valley Fever
Symptoms present about three weeks after exposure and include coughing, fever, lethargy, and decreased appetite.
Disseminated Valley Fever
Symptoms incuding extreme pain and weakness occur after the infection has spread to other parts of the body (usually the bones and joints).
To limit the negative effects of Valley Fever, early diagnosis and treatment are essential. Once breathed in, the spores that cause Valley Fever mature, reproduce, and, if not treated early, can eventually spread throughout the body via a host’s lungs, causing the most painful symptoms and permanent damage.
How Is Valley Fever Diagnosed and Treated?
Valley Fever is typically diagnosed using both blood tests and x-rays of the lungs. It can be treated with antifungal medications.
Sick Pet Appointments With Our Tucson Veterinarians
If your dog displays any symptoms of valley fever, schedule a sick pet appointment immediately. We’ll examine your dog, run diagnostic tests, and provide you with an accurate diagnosis before treating your pet.
To learn more about valley fever, the sick pet services available at our clinic, or to schedule an appointment, we welcome you to contact Adobe Veterinary Center today.
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Our practice is unique in that we provide medical care to multiple species in the greater Tucson area. Three of our veterinarians specialize in the care of dogs and cats and the other three veterinarians specialize in the care of horses and livestock.