Every year, Arizona dog owners spend thousands of dollars in diagnosing, treating, and caring for dogs impacted by Valley Fever. Like humans, dogs can develop Valley Fever through exposure to a fungus living in the desert soil. If a dog inhales these tiny fungal spores, it can lead to lung infection and destruction of the dog’s immune system.
Early Warning Signs
The most common warning signs of primary pulmonary Valley Fever in dogs are coughing, fever, weight loss, diminished appetite, and energy loss. Some of these symptoms are the result of lung infection. As the infection grows, the dog might develop pneumonia, which a veterinarian can detect through X-rays. Dogs often experience coughing as a result of swollen lymph nodes near the heart, which exerts pressure on the dog’s windpipe. Veterinarians can also see the swollen lymph nodes on X-rays.
Once the Valley Fever infection spreads outside the lungs, it triggers disseminated disease. At this stage, the infection begins to infect the bones in the legs of dogs. However, it can infect almost any organ of a dog. Common symptoms of disseminated Valley Fever include swelling of limbs, back or neck pain, seizures, swollen lymph nodes under the chin, and eye inflammation.
Infection in Open Lesions
As Valley Fever progresses, a dog may develop non-healing skin ulcerations or draining tracts oozing fluid. The organism in the fluid of draining lesions is not infectious. When the dog is taking antifungal medication, it will likely shed very few organisms in this fluid. However, owners should still try to minimize exposure to this fluid in the environment by bandaging wounds whenever possible. These bandages should be changed daily or at least every other day. Owners should also wash their hands anytime they handle these bandages.
Owned and operated by Dr. Beth Hareski, Horizon Animal Hospital provides information about each medical option, so our patients achieve the highest quality and cost effective treatment possible. We consider communications with our patients and their families a top priority. Call (480) 800-4559 to schedule an appointment at our Scottsdale office.
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