Valley fever in canines can be a life-threatening disease. It mostly affects dogs in dusty, dry climates such as California, Arizona and New Mexico and is caused when dogs inhale fungal spores. Some dogs who are affected by coccidioidomycosis will lose their appetite resulting in weight loss, have a fever and show signs of pneumonia such as coughing and difficulty breathing. However, most pooches don't show symptoms and can fight off the disease without being treated.
If your dog has symptoms of valley fever, your vet will want to take diagnostic measures, such as X-rays and a test, to determine if he's got the disease. If the tests result in a valley fever diagnosis, antifungal medications such as fluconazole, itraconazole and ketoconazole are the most effective for treating the disease and the most likely to result in curing your canine.
"Cure" Not Guaranteed
Although antifungals can be effective to treat valley fever in your dog, there is no guarantee that they will cure him of the disease. The Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine says that a treatment duration of six months is common, but some dogs may have relapses and could deal with the disease for the rest of their lives.
Helpful Supplemental Treatments
While antifungal medications go to work healing valley fever in your dog, there are treatments that your vet may recommend to alleviate symptoms and help your best friend feel as comfortable as possible. If one of your dog's major symptoms is coughing, the vet might prescribe a cough suppressant. She also might prescribe anti-inflammatories to ease his aches and pains. If your dog loses his appetite and feels nauseated, you'll want to tempt him with tasty cooked foods that are easily digestible. Also, your vet will advise you to provide a source of fresh water at all times.
The Good News
Even if veterinary treatment doesn't result in a cure from valley fever, the good news is that he can't pass it on to you or other animals. The University of Arizona says that even if more than one dog in a household has valley fever, it is because they each inhaled spores to contract the infection. Coughing doesn't pose a danger of spreading the disease. The only caveat is that if your dog has draining lesions they should be dressed with clean bandages daily.
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.