Canine Valley Fever Symptoms & Treatment

By: Dr. Carol Jean Tillman

Canine valley fever symptoms are caused by the valley fever fungus, technically called "Coccidiodes immitis". Valley fever in dogs affects the respiratory tract, skeleton, skin and pericardium (covering of the heart) and can be fatal if left untreated.

In the United States, it is most prevalent in the Southwest including Arizona and New Mexico, and dogs of any age are susceptible.

Canine Valley Fever Symptoms

There can be a variety of symptoms of valley fever in dogs including a lethargic mood, loss of appetite and subsequent weight loss, and fever. Symptoms are usually noticed about three to four weeks after the dog has been infected.

Depending on which part of the body the fungus is located, other canine valley fever symptoms will be present, including…

  • Bones – inability to move properly
  • Brain – dog seizures (see our Dog Epilepsy page to help determine if seizures could be the result of epilepsy)
  • Respiratory tract and heart - chronic and persistent dog cough

According to the University of Arizona's Valley Fever Center for Excellence, dog valley fever that has spread throughout the body can also cause:

  • Swelling of the legs
  • Back or neck pain
  • Soft swelling underneath the skin
  • Swelling of lymph nodes, especially underneath the chin, behind the joint of the hind leg or in front of the shoulder blades
  • Persistent skin ulcerations
  • Inflamed, painful eyes
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Swollen testicles

If any canine valley fever symptoms are present, get your dog to the vet immediately. The condition is treatable if caught early, but if the fungus can spread quickly and become fatal.

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Prevention and Treatment of Valley Fever in Dogs

The usual treatment for valley fever in dogs is via conventional anti-fungal drugs. Treatment is typically continued for 6 months to one year to ensure that all forms of the fungus have been removed from the body.

There is no holistic treatment, but it is recommended to support the patient's immune system while they are going through the treatment and for prevention. It is thought that a poor immune system probably made the dog more susceptible to infection in the first place.

Therefore, providing immune support in high-risk regions of the country and while on the anti-fungal drugs by improving the dog food diet and by feeding appropriate dog dietary supplements/vitamins that support the gastro-intestinal tract and liver is extremely important.

PetAlive's LiverAid Formula in conjunction with their Parasite Dr. supplement to support digestion and boost the immune system is an effective option.

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