Valley Fever is back in Arizona, and that’s bad news for people. But does that mean it’s also bad news for dogs? As one of the country’s most serious “regional” ailments, Valley Fever impacts the U.S. southwest region more than the rest of the United States. Unfortunately for Arizona residents, the state is known for a disproportionate amount of Valley Fever cases.
It’s tough enough trying to handle Valley Fever for yourself and your family, and new research suggests that man’s best friend isn’t totally immune for the ravages of this disease.
Is Valley Fever in pets (in this case, dogs) a cause for concern, or overblown hype? For all residents of Arizona who own a dog, it appears that Valley Fever should be firmly on the radar; in other words, Valley Fever definitely has some bite to go along with the bark! This blog will look at how Valley Fever affects humans and dogs, the differences in symptoms and a few prevention methods.
Valley Fever in Dogs: Small Breaths, Big Impact
Dogs are known for their curiosity, and this natural instinct sometimes gets our furry friends into trouble. Nearly all dog species can turn a small mess into a large one, or even create chaos from seemingly nothing at all – just ask any furniture owner who has witnessed their dog tear apart a couch pillow, for example.
The scary thing about Valley Fever and dogs is that this curious canine nature isn’t required for the disease to take hold. Arizona’s unique climate and soil conditions create the ideal environment for Valley Fever to spread through both human and dog populations. Valley Fever is introduced through the nasal passages and mouth by the simple act of breathing. This airborne fungus (scientific name: coccidioides) doesn’t need a significant presence to gain a foothold in humans or dogs. For canines, less than one dozen inhaled anthrospores (by-products of the original coccidioides fungus) are enough to cause the onset of Valley Fever.
For dog owners, that’s a scary proposition; even careful measures to prevent Valley Fever (which we’ll talk about in a minute) may not work.
Dogs and Humans – Two Species Affected by Valley Fever
With so many cases of Valley Fever in the state – according to some estimates, up to 60% of all Valley Fever cases in the United States originate in Arizona – logic would suggest than humans aren’t the only species affected by Valley Fever. Dogs can also suffer serious and negative health consequences from Valley Fever, including:
- Persistent dry cough
- Low energy levels (even in older dogs)
- Lack of appetite
- A canine appearance of being “disgusted” (dog owners know this look)
- Fever (both acute and chronic)
If Valley Fever spreads beyond a dog’s lungs, other symptoms may include:
- Bone lesions (detected with a CAT scan)
- Swollen joints
- Acute fever
- Severe weight loss
Some vets have also detected chest pain in dogs, which is a common human symptom for Valley Fever sufferers. For dog owners that suspect their pet may have Valley Fever, it’s important to pay attention to small behavioral changes. If in doubt, take your dog to the vet as soon as possible. Similar to other diseases, early detection is critical for treating Valley Fever in dogs.
Valley Fever in Dogs & Humans: Looking for Links
No cure currently exists for Valley Fever, so medical experts and researchers are trying to find the similarities in how Valley Fever affects humans and dogs. A huge research project is underway, thanks to TGen. More than 2,000 dog owners have been questioned, and the ultimate goal is to discover the different ways people and pets (particularly dogs) come down with Valley Fever.
Called the “PAWS Project,” this latest initiative will hopefully shed some light on the somewhat puzzling dilemma of why some people and dogs are more susceptible to Valley Fever than others.
Medication, Veterinarian Visits and Recovery: The Added Costs of Valley Fever
So what is the financial impact of Valley Fever for Arizona dogs? One documented case puts the total at about $3,000. A Great Dane owner in Mesa was faced with roughly $2,000 up-front costs, which included trips to the vet’s office, diagnosis and initial treatment. Plus, some Valley Fever ongoing medications (to help prevent the disease from recurring and also treat existing symptoms) can cost up to another $1,000 per year. For Relay the Great Dane, monthly costs are about $75.
Taking a Bite out of Valley Fever: How to Prevent Canine Occurrences
Since the symptoms of Valley Fever in dogs and humans are similar (chest pain, swollen joints, fatigue, etc.), prevention methods are likewise the same. And the #1 way to avoid Valley Fever for your dog is simple: just limit their time outside. It can be difficult to restrict your dog’s time in the great outdoors – especially for those ultra-active breeds like Border Collies and Golden Retrievers – but there are some indoor activity areas which will help burn that extra energy.
A quick note about canine Valley Fever symptoms: a bone scan might be required to confirm the diagnosis. Osteolytic lesions (small, corrosive growths on the bones) are common in Arizona dogs with Valley Fever.
Banner Urgent Care: Your Partner in Valley Fever Treatment, Prevention and More
Banner Urgent Care is well aware of how Valley Fever affects people and pets. You may not know it, but the three counties with the highest rates of Valley Fever are all in Arizona: Maricopa County, Pinal County and Gila County are afflicted with the most cases of Valley Fever in the entire United States!
For your dog, medical attention is required, so a timely trip to the veterinarian is highly recommended. For you and your family, a visit to Arizona’s #1 walk-in healthcare clinic, Banner Urgent Care, can help alleviate symptoms and treat existing ones. With dozens of medical facilities all across the state, you can walk right in today!
We hope this information helps you and your dog avoid Valley Fever. For more questions about Valley Fever, or if you have any other concerns and would like to speak with one of our medical care customer service representatives, please call Banner Urgent Care at (480) 988-9108. Thanks for reading our blog!