Valley Fever Symptoms
Younger pups and older dogs are most susceptible to contract a full form of Valley Fever. The weaker immune systems in them allow the spore to create spherules. These spherules burst and start to cause additional health problems. Animals that have a strong immune system can fight off the spherules, generally as long as it is small quantities and limited to the lungs. Some dogs may fight off mild Valley Fever symptoms. If a dog’s immune system is not strong enough, it will allow the progression of two disease states, the primary disease state or disseminated disease state.
Primary disease state: In the primary state the fever is limited to the lungs. The symptoms noticed will be to the flu. The animal will likely have a dry cough, fever, loss of appetite and will be very tired. Often, it initially gets diagnosed as Kennel Cough.
Once these symptoms have become obvious, it is likely, that the dog has been infected for around 2-3 weeks.
Disseminated disease state: Once the fungus spreads outside of the lungs, it will affect other parts of the body. Often noticeable in joints and bones, your dog might suddenly limp or look arthritic. This is caused due to swelling in his joints making it difficult and painful to move. Ultimately, the dog will continue to have appetite loss and fever. In rare cases, the disease can enter the brain and cause seizures, but typically is treated long before that happens.
Valley Fever Diagnosis?
Diagnosis is done with a simple titer test at your vet, depending on the severity, X-rays or other fluid analysis can be undertaken. The titer test is the most cost efficient diagnostic tool and will determine if the Valley Fever antibodies are present. Remember that this disease is only relevant if your pet has traveled to or lives in a hot climate that could allow growth of the fungus. As such, you should be sure to let your vet know your pet’s recent travel history so they can determine if these are indeed Valley Fever symptoms.
Treatment of Valley Fever
Pharmaceutical treatments do exist for Valley Fever and are very successful. Most vets will prescribe an azole derivative, anti-fungal pill (commonly, Fluconazole, which is used for yeast infections as well). The course of treatment is very lengthy, typically around 6-8 months depending on the severity. It is possible for the treatment to be much longer if it is an extensive disseminated state. Most animals show significant improvement within a couple of weeks. However, it is important to finish the course of anti-fungal medications. Otherwise, spores are probably still present in the system, and can refuel the disease. Periodic tests will be done check titer and liver functions while on these medications.
There are believed to be some home remedies where sublimed sulfur, acting in an anti-fungal manner, is used to good effect. While documented cases of cure do exist, we strongly recommend undertaking detailed research before embarking on this path.