Monday, March 22, 2021

What Is Valley Fever & Is Your Dog At Risk?

 Valley Fever In Dogs

Valley Fever is becoming more prevalent among dogs in specific regions of the country. This condition is triggered by the fungus coccidioidomycosis, which is found in the soil throughout the  Southwestern United States. States such as Arizona, California, New Mexico, and parts of Southwestern Texas provide the ideal hot and dry climate for the fungus spores to thrive. The fungus typically lies dormant in the soil, but activities like digging or even simple sniffing can disturb the soil and release the spores into the air putting your dog at risk. Symptoms of Valley Fever can include: 

Symptoms Of Valley Fever In Dogs

Persistent Cough: Dogs with Valley Fever often develop a dry, harsh cough that can be persistent and worsen over time. This cough may be accompanied by gagging or retching.

Fever: An elevated body temperature is a typical sign of infection. Dogs with Valley Fever may exhibit fever, which could be intermittent or persistent.

Lethargy: A general lack of energy or increased tiredness is commonly observed in dogs with Valley Fever. They may seem less interested in activities they once enjoyed and may spend more time resting or sleeping.

Decreased Appetite: Dogs with Valley Fever may show a reduced interest in food or may completely lose their appetite. This can lead to weight loss and nutritional deficiencies if not addressed promptly.

Weight Loss: Unintentional weight loss may occur in dogs with Valley Fever, often due to decreased appetite and the body's increased energy expenditure as it fights off the infection.

Respiratory Symptoms: In addition to coughing, dogs may exhibit other respiratory symptoms such as difficulty breathing, rapid breathing, or shallow breathing.

Joint Pain and Lameness: Valley Fever can affect the bones and joints, leading to pain, stiffness, lameness, or reluctance to move. Dogs may exhibit limping or favoring certain limbs.

Swelling: Swelling or enlargement of the limbs or joints may occur in some dogs with Valley Fever, particularly if the infection spreads to the bones or surrounding tissues.

Eye Problems: In rare cases, Valley Fever can cause eye-related symptoms such as redness, discharge, squinting, or inflammation.

How Is Valley Fever Diagnosed?

Blood Tests: Blood tests are often the initial step in diagnosing Valley Fever in dogs. Two primary blood tests are commonly used:

Antibody Titer Test: This test detects the presence of antibodies produced by the dog's immune system in response to the Valley Fever fungus. A high antibody titer level indicates exposure to the fungus, but it doesn't necessarily confirm an active infection. However, it can be a useful screening tool. 

Antigen Test: This test detects specific components of the Valley Fever fungus in the dog's blood. A positive antigen test result indicates an active infection.

Fungal Culture: A fungal culture involves collecting samples from the dog's tissues, such as blood, fluid from swollen joints, or tissue biopsy samples. These samples are then cultured in a laboratory to grow and identify the fungus responsible for the infection. Fungal cultures are more specific but may take several weeks to yield results.

X-rays: X-rays of the chest may be performed to assess the extent of lung involvement in dogs suspected of having Valley Fever. Lung nodules, inflammation, or other abnormalities may be visible on the X-rays. Ultrasound or CT scan may also be recommended.
Symptoms: your veterinarian will also consider the dog's clinical signs and symptoms as part of the diagnostic process.

Tips To Protect Your Dog From Valley Fever

Reducing your dog's exposure to soil and airborne dust is an important step to protecting your dog from Valley Fever.  Here are some other ways to help protect your dog:  

  • Avoid activities that generate dust
  • Stop your dog from digging
  • Prevent sniffing in rodent holes
  • Cover the yard with grass or gravel
  • Walk your dog on paved paths vs. trails

If your dog is not feeling well and showing any signs of Valley Fever, seek veterinary attention early as it will help your dog's prognosis. 

Natural Remedies For Valley Fever In Dogs

Managing Valley Fever in dogs involves a multifaceted approach that includes bolstering their natural immune defenses and employing antifungal remedies. Supplements like K9 Yeast Defense and Power Probiotic can provide essential immune support, while products such as PureOcean Wild Omegas and K9 CurcuMagic can help reduce inflammation, easing the discomfort caused by this condition.

K9 Yeast Defense- contains natural ingredients like probiotics, enzymes, and herbs that help rebalance the gut flora, strengthen the immune system, and inhibit the growth of harmful yeast and fungi.

Power Probiotic- provides support by replenishing beneficial bacteria in the gut, promoting digestion, and enhancing overall immune function.

PureOcean Wild Omegas- provides a concentrated source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation, alleviate joint pain, and improve mobility in dogs with Valley Fever.

K9 CurcuMagic- Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, is renowned for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.K9 CurcuMagic offers a concentrated and easily absorbable form of curcumin specifically formulated for pets, ensuring optimal efficacy in managing inflammation and supporting overall health.

For pet owners navigating the challenges of Valley Fever, seeking out the right supplements and remedies can help pets  experience relief and be on the road to recovery.