It has been found that 70% of dogs who inhale the disease-causing fungal spores remain asymptomatic, that is, never develop an infection. Others who develop an infection may suffer from mild, severe or even fatal symptoms.
Dogs are susceptible to quite a lot of infections and health problems. From fleas to ticks, diabetes to heart conditions, dogs can exhibit a range of health issues. One such infection dogs from Southwest America are susceptible to is valley fever. It is a fungal infection that is not life-threatening but it requires long-term treatment. This disease is unique to the states of southwestern United States like California, Arizona, New Mexico and Southwestern Texas. This disease is not just limited to dogs, but also affects their human friends. The following paragraphs will contain some information related to canine valley fever.
How do Dogs Get Valley Fever
The cause of canine Valley fever or Coccidioidomycosis is same as in humans. It caused by the fungal spores of Coccidioides. These spores are prevalent in the dirt and arid regions of the desert. The fungus grows in soil and matures into dry fragile strands. These strands are very delicate and can easily break into tiny spores called arthroconidia or arthrospores.
These spores are inhaled by the animals and gain entry into their body. Here, the spores multiply at the first site they find themselves located within the dog's body. The lungs are mostly the site of location and the infection begins here. They grow into spherules that continue to grow till they burst. After the spherules burst, they release hundreds of endospores into the lungs. Each endospore continues to grow into a new spherule and thus, spreading the infection to healthy cells within the body. The immune system soon fails to get rid of these many endospores and the symptoms of Valley fever begin to appear.
The dogs immune system can generally take care of such an infection. However, in case of coccidiodomycosis, the spores quickly multiply and shed new spores leading to a full-fledged infection. This infection is very common in puppies, older dogs and those animals who have immunocompromised systems. The cocci spores reproduce and replicate really very fast and soon Coccidioidomycosis turns into pneumonia. Thus, a dog gets infected not only with valley fever, but also pneumonia at the same time. This makes it very difficult for the dog to fight off both the dog health problems. The common sites of dissemination of Valley fever within the body other than lungs is liver, central nervous system. The other sites of dissemination of Coccidioidomycosis includes eyes and heart muscles in rare cases.
Symptoms of Valley Fever
Valley fever occurs in two forms: primary and disseminated valley fever. In case of primary valley fever, the animal develops respiratory disorders. This disease is limited to the lungs and the symptoms of valley fever include:
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Swelling of limbs
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Swelling under the skin that is similar to an abscess
- The lymph nodes under the chin, in front of shoulder blades, behind stifles, are swollen
- Skin ulcers that take long time to heal
- Inflammation of eye with pain
- Cloudiness of the eye
Canine Valley Fever Treatment
The valley fever treatment is generally taken care by use of antifungal medications. The Coccidioidomycosis treatment requires use of about 6 to 12 months of extensive medications. In case of disseminated valley fever, the treatment is even longer. If the disease is disseminated in the central nervous system, that is, brain and spinal cord, the dog requires lifelong treatment with medication.
The antifungal medications are in form of capsules that include ketoconazole, itraconazole and fluconazole. Other treatment for this fungal infection includes cough suppressants, pain relief medications, fever medications, nutritious dog food and good dog care.
Dogs generally respond well to the treatment and will show significant improvement in dog health within a few weeks. You cannot do anything to prevent Coccidioidomycosis, but try to keeping him away from dirt and soil as much as possible. This was all about symptoms of valley fever in dogs that will help you in understanding this canine fungal infection.