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Symptoms of Valley Fever in Dogs

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015
Valley Fever

Symptoms of Valley Fever

Most cases of Valley Fever are subclinical, meaning that the dog is infected by the fungi but does not develop observable symptoms. These animals probably never will be diagnosed or require treatment. However, when clinical illness does develop, it can be life-threatening. The early signs of Valley Fever are nonspecific and primarily respiratory. Owners of affected dogs may notice one or more of the following signs in the early course of the disease:

  • Acute onset of respiratory symptoms
  • Difficulty breathing (dyspnea)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid, shallow breathing (tachypnea)
  • Cough (initially mild; may be dry and hacking or moist and productive)
  • Loss of appetite (anorexia; inappetence)
  • Weight loss
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy

As the infection spreads (becomes systemic or disseminated), which normally takes more than 4 months after the onset of respiratory signs, affected dogs deteriorate and develop additional symptoms, especially in their eyes, joints, skin and bones. These may include:

  • Diarrhea (usually intermittent)
  • Vomiting (usually intermittent)
  • Chronic cough
  • Lameness (especially in the long bones of the limbs)
  • Swollen or enlarged joints
  • Neck pain
  • Back pain
  • Seizures
  • Vision abnormalities; vision loss
  • Weeping skin sores; draining skin ulcers
  • Emaciation
  • Fever unresponsive to antibiotics

Dogs at Increased Risk

Young, male, medium to large-breed dogs that live or spend a substantial amount of time outdoors in endemic areas have an increased risk of becoming infected by Coccidioides immitis. Boxers, Doberman Pinchers, Australian Shepherds, Beagles, Scottish Terriers, Cocker Spaniels and Pointers are reportedly predisposed to Valley Fever, as are dogs living in endemic areas that tend to “nose around in the dirt.” Older and immunocompromised animals are at higher risk of infection, as are those with poor nutritional support.

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