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Symptoms of Valley Fever in Dogs


Certain breeds seem to be more susceptible than others to the disseminated form, and male dogs are more prone to it than females. Research into a vaccine that will protect both humans and animals from valley fever is in progress, and at the Valley Fever Center for Excellence in Tucson, Ariz., scientists are attempting to determine the natural incidence of the disease among dogs in that region. It appears hopeful that we will be able to control just how much this fungus remains among us. And then we can all get back to worrying about which tocopherols to sprinkle on our dogs’ food in the morning.



This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 47: Mar/Apr 2008
Shannon Fitzgerald is a toxicologist by training and a canophile by choice; a native of New England, she now lives in North Carolina.

Illustration by Ken Orvidas

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Submitted by Janice Arenofsky | April 19 2010 |

Although Shannon Fitzgerald got most of her information right, she should have spoken to Lisa Shubitz, DVM, at the Valley Fever Center for Excellence in Tucson. Lisa probably would have told her that many more dogs than people wind up with the disseminated version of Valley Fever. Many dogs die of Valley Fever or complications from it, so the scenario is not quite as cheery as Ms. Fitzgerald indicates. Her story of Hunter while inspiring, is far from typical. Many dogs cannot tolerate fluconazole, which merely remits the disease at best, and others wind up with kidney disease as a result of the antifungal drugs. As Ms. Fitzgerald correctly asserted, there is no cure yet for the disease, and it can come back at any time. Also, the test is far from accurate, often yielding false negatives.

I've lived in Phoenix for 30 years, and Arizona, where 80 percent of cases of coccidioidomycosis occur each year, has yet to invest any great sums of money on a curative pharmaceutical agent, much less a vaccine. A vaccine is easily 10 years and millions of dollars away--Valley Fever is an orphan disease that triggers no interest from pharmaceutical companies who know there won't be enough of a market for them to make a sizeable profit. Our best hope, at this point, is nikkomycin Z, which is in the midst of FDA testing. But even if that succeeds in curing the disease, it's at least five years away from being on your medicine shelf.

If Shannon lived in Arizona, she'd worry 100 times more about dogs getting Valley Fever than about dogs getting substandard food content.

Submitted by magicmutts | August 26 2011 |

What Shannon had to say was informative, however, I also believe she did not go far enough.
Janisce added info that is most important and I agree with her.
I have rescued dogs in the state of Sonora, Mexico for 19 years. I have seen valley fever and in several cases, have treated dogs myself. I am not a vet, but sometimes we have to treat the dogs as best we can, ourselves.
We found Maya lying on the side of the road in a small, very poor mexican village and she was near death. We took her to a vet and they suggested we put her down. My friend and I looked at each other and said...."I don't think so".
Long story short and after much reading and looking up on the internet, I decided to give her 100 mg/s of fluconozole once a day. She weighted 1/2 her normal weight, and could not walk. She was easily going to die in a matter of days.
We took her to our dog rescue place, and started feeding her and giving her the meds. After a few months we arrived one morning and saw that she was wasn't there! She had dragged herself over the the threshold of the sliding door and done her business outside!! We cried. We never had to carry her again!
After 6 or 7 months she was plump, walking and just a happy, smiling dog. We eventually stopped her meds to give her liver a break.
We kept her another 3 or 4 months and then found a wonderful home for her with friends in California, who adored her~ I warned them to check with her Doctor and have her tested. I warned them about too much meds and what it could do to her liver.
The vet there decided she had to go back on fluconazole....I emailed them and said "please be really careful....it could be false positive!"
In a few more months this beautiful dog was dead. Even after my warnings, the vet overmedicated and her bladder burst and she bled to death....Such a waste of a wonderful animal. 4 years ago and I still tear up.
I wish I could post her foto....the most loving and trusting dog I have ever known.

Submitted by eanurse | February 19 2012 |

I'm sorry that you cannot post a pic, too.

Submitted by Lew | August 22 2012 |

For all of you who are desperate to see your canines well again please read my story.
Valley Fever presented itself in both of our Weimaraners while vacationing in Sedona, Arizona. Being Canadians we do not see this disease in our area. We did not know of this disease until our dogs became very ill with a cough and lack of appetite. It took several visits to the vet and a final blood test for V.F.that confirmed the disease. The first few visits resulted in high dosage shots of antibiotics and steroids to treat a supposed flu/cold. Our dogs would respond immediately and appear to be cured, only to crash on the 3rd day after the shots. This was done several times before the results came back. One of our dogs seemed to be able to fight the disease, but the other dog gave up on eating. He went days picking at his food, which resulted in us having to syringe food into him to prevent him from wasting away. In desperation we sought out another vet in the area with experience with V.F. He told us that the steroids had compromised his immune system. He also warned us not to use anymore steroids and to let him fight the disease on his own. "He would get worse before he got better and we would have to support him in every way possible". It was so sad to watch our boy waste away in front of our very eyes.
Our drive back to Canada was nearing and we were told not to attempt it.
Loaded up with syringes full of pureed human grade food we made the long trek home. Once home we sought out a top internist in the Toronto area whereby he took one look at our boy and kept him in intensive care for 3 days. He had lost almost 20 lbs and no amount of care or force feeding was helping him. We were so desperate! The internist supported him with intravenous and a small dosage of steroid. He stated "If all else fails the last line of defense was putting him back on steroids". The big difference with how this was handled was that the internist used a very small dose of steroid that would mimic what his own body would produce on a daily basis (6mg). He was kept him on steroids for a few weeks which resulted in him gaining all his weight back. He was weaned off of the steroid and his appetite remained healthy. He now has a stronger body to fight the disease which I am told will take up to a year. We have since found out that there is a disease similar to V.F. in areas of Ontario Canada in the dark soil. I am putting this out there because I have read about so many cases of canines dying from the side effects of V.F.due to their anorexic state.Steroids in small amounts saved our boys life. Note- when we weaned him off the very small dose his cough came back for a few days which our vet was not concerned about. But it subsided after 2 days and his appetite stayed healthy. It is such an inexpensive, potent drug which is handled properly can save a dogs life.

Submitted by Debo | May 29 2013 |

Presas and canes

Submitted by Debo | May 29 2013 |

I need to know what kind of fungus or disease you are referring too when you say there is a similar disease too V.F in the black soil in ontario. I have a press canario who is very sick and has all the xtreme symptoms of vally fever . We coincidenty live on 8 acres of black loam soil in southern ontario . Please reply

Submitted by Nanci Negaard | September 18 2013 |

BLASTOMYCOSIS / comes from spores in the soil...inhaled by the dog. IF caught early it's treatable...un-treated it's 100% fatal / have vet do blood tests & chest x-rays

Submitted by Michele | September 3 2013 |

What is the name of the disease your dog had from Ontario Canada? Our dog visited Canada and shortly after came down with Valley Fever. Am having a hard time believing it is Valley Fever since none of our other dogs came down with it only the one who went to Canada. We visited Alberta not Ontario but worth asking you. Thank you

Submitted by Lori | December 30 2012 |

My dog has valley fever, I believe that she and I contracted it at the same time. I used to run in the canals in Tempe. Before she was a year old, she started walking as if she had paid in her hips, as if she were 10 years old. My vet confirmed with a blood test. I put her on valley fever medication, together with asprin and glucosomine. After 6 years, she has finally beat it, with a level of 0 - 4. My mistake was not seeing the doctor after the first round of meds ran out. I did not take her back right away and her symptoms reappeared. So, this is not something to take lightly, it is serious and may require long term care. My dog is a brindle pit mix and very healthy and happy now. I still give her glucosomine and sometimes asprin as her hips still get sore. She is able to run and play and jumps to catch the ball, but I try not to over do it... best of luck with your dog. Oh, in me, I broke out in hives... felt like it hurt to breathe for a while.. then slowly it went away. I thought I had an allergy. My dr tested me and I am positive for valley fever.

Submitted by may | June 3 2013 |

I just want to let everyone know there is an all natural formula called Desert Defense please google it. it saved my dog from valley fever. she was on the fluconazol for a few days then only the desert defense and the vet was amazing at how fast her numbers droped i also reccomended this to several friends whos dogs had VF and all of them where amazed at how great desert defense is. please look into it. you can usually get it from a feed store or pet specialty store or vet but dont need a perscription.

Submitted by Amanda | June 13 2014 |

I hope you get this message, since it is a year after you posted. My 11 month old Husky male has VF, (diseminated, I believe) he is on 200mg of Fluconazole and has very little appetite. His titre was 1:32, I started him on Desert Defense a few days ago. What was your dogs titre and how much fluconazole was he on before you discontinued it? Any helpful info you have would be much appreciated! Gotta save my boy.

Submitted by Paula | August 25 2014 |

I gave desert defense to my dog and it almost killed her....She was sick for a month after 2 doses. Stick to the drugs the Vet prescribes. Her titers are now negative after a year.

Submitted by carlena | November 26 2013 |

Coccidioidomycosis (/kɒkˌsɪdiɔɪdoʊmaɪˈkoʊsɪs/, kok-sid-ee-oy-doh-my-KOH-sis), commonly known as cocci,[1] "valley fever",[2] as well as "California fever",[2] "desert rheumatism",[2] and "San Joaquin Valley fever",[2] is a fungal disease caused by Coccidioides immitis or Coccidioides posadasii.[3] It is endemic in certain parts of Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Utah and northern Mexico.[4] in the River Valley Areas it is Blastiomycosis....(sp?) It can be found anywhere in the US and bordering countries....
Our wonderful gov't was testing it for a biochemical war...and it got away from them...and now is an epidemic for ourselves...research it and it was formed in 1950's...
Besides all that crap....people die every year from it...and our furry friends even more die from it...I lost one of my girls to it...
AS anyone knows...the drug...fluconazole aka diflucan...has since this past summer increased 10 fold in price....so you have to be rich to save your dog now...
Look up Albon,a sulfer drug to treat all our cattle infected... follow treatment with Flagyl aka metrodonazole (sp?) ...then Fenbenazole found in SafeGuard worm medicine...

Submitted by Jeanie | July 31 2014 |

My dog, possibly a lab/weimaraner mix, is now on 315 mg capsules, up from 200, fluconasole twice a day. The vet's medicine was expensive but they told me about Roadrunner Pharmacy in Phoenix so I now pay $58 for 90 (45 days). He has had it, diagnosed in April 2013, and is now 2 1/2 years old. I recently had to change vets and the test was not as much, but they don't give me a years worth of medicine. He seems good, except that he sleeps a lot, but runs around the yard and then sleeps. I am looking for an alternative supplement. Anyone have any helpful knowledge for me? Thanks!

Submitted by Linda | August 21 2014 |

I don't know of a natural remedy. I going to ask my vet.
But there is a compounding pharmacy in Scottsdale that even delivers and the med is 45 dollars.
That was including the delivery for me to Gilbert az.
Please let's know if you find something better.
My German Shepard 11 1/2 yrs old was just diagnosed with VF. :(
I am so worried about my boy!

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