Valley Fever in Dogs

Have you heard of Valley fever? If you’re new to Arizona, you may not have, as it’s generally found in dry, dusty areas. Valley fever can be quite dangerous to our canine pals. A North Phoenix, AZ vet discusses Valley fever in this article.


Valley fever is also sometimes called California disease, desert rheumatism, or San Joaquin Valley fever. The disease is caused by the inhalation of contaminated fungus spores, which thrive in desert-like environments. The spores can become airborne easily, especially when there are strong winds, or sometimes due to construction, farming, or digging. While the disease is found throughout the American Southwest and Mexico, it’s unfortunately become epidemic in parts of Arizona. Infections are most common in fall, as well as in June and July. There are two different forms of Valley fever: Primary, which affects only the lungs, and Disseminated, which can affect other parts of the body. Although Valley fever can infect many species, including horses and cattle, dogs are particularly prone. This may very well be because of Fido’s habit of sniffing, well, pretty much everything.


Valley fever can affect dogs in several ways. If Fido is fully-grown, and has a strong immune system, he may fight off the disease naturally, and show only mild symptoms with no further issues. Puppies, senior dogs, and pooches with weak immune systems are much more at risk of developing medical issues. Symptoms of Valley disease include coughing, reduced appetite, depression, and lethargy. Dogs with the Disseminated form of the disease may also have other symptoms, including swollen joints, lameness, eye inflammation, seizures, lack of appetite, fever, and/or weight loss, to name a few. Contact your vet immediately if your dog shows any of these signs. Although Valley fever can be fatal, the disease is treatable if caught early. However, your vet will need to run tests to make an official diagnosis before starting treatment.


Although there is no way to guarantee your canine friend will never get Valley fever, there are ways for you to reduce the risk. Don’t let Fido play in or sniff around areas that have not been landscaped, such as construction zones, for instance. Also, keep your pup indoors as much as possible on windy days.

For more information on Valley fever, please contact us, your North Phoenix, AZ pet hospital, today. We are here to help!

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