Valley Fever Dogs: Breakdown of Symptoms, Causes, and Proven Treatments

Published on Jun 6, 2023 12:00 AM
Valley Fever Dogs: Breakdown of Symptoms, Causes, and Proven Treatments

To fully enjoy your time with your pet, it is crucial to understand your pet's health, including its potential diseases, prevention methods, and treatment options. As a pet owner, you must educate yourself about Valley Fever dogs. 

Valley Fever in Dogs is a common fungal infection that primarily affects the pulmonary system of the dog and then disseminates into other systems. Besides, It is also known as coccidioidomycosis and is most common in the southwestern areas of the United States, predominantly in California and Arizona.

Keep reading to learn all about Valley fever in dogs, including its symptoms, causes, and different aspects of treatment. This blog will allow you to recognize all the signs and symptoms of Valley fever in your dog and seek timely veterinary care.

How are Valley Fever Dogs Acquired?

A fungus causes Dog Valley Fever, "coccidiosis immitis," found primarily in the soil. As a part of its life cycle, the fungus forms spores. Moreover,  these spores are extensively present in desert soil and are raised into the air whenever the soil is disturbed by high winds, walking, or digging.

In addition, dogs acquire Valley fever by inhalation of these spores in the dust. Finally, the spores finally reach the lungs resulting in the symptoms of Valley fever.

Most Common Symptoms of Valley Fever in Dogs

Symptoms of Valley Fever in dogs vary greatly depending on the dog's immune system. However, dog Valley Fever may be asymptomatic, mild, or severe.

Common symptoms of Valley Fever in dogs include:

Respiratory Symptoms

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Shortness of breath

Fever and Lethargy

  • Persistent Fever
  • Weakness
  • Reduced or loss of appetite

Cutaneous Symptoms

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Abscesses

Musculoskeletal Symptoms

  • Joint swelling
  • Back pain
  • Limb pain
  • Difficulty walking

Eye Symptoms

  • Dogs with Valley Fever may sometimes develop eye swelling, redness, and discharge.

Factors Affecting Dog’s Susceptibility to Valley Fever

Although multiple factors contribute to an increase or decrease in your dog’s susceptibility to acquiring Valley Fever. But Some crucial factors are underlying;

Immune System

  • Immunity is a significant factor determining susceptibility to the disease and the range of symptoms in dogs with Valley Fever. Besides, dogs with a strong and active immune system are usually asymptomatic.
  • However, dogs with compromised immune systems are more susceptible to severe disease due to underlying health conditions or immunosuppressive therapy.


  • Moreover, certain breeds, such as Boxers, Labrador Retrievers, and Dachshunds, are more susceptible to Valley Fever.


  • Dogs of younger age, usually under the age of three, and dogs of older age are more susceptible to the disease.


  • Traveling to or residing in the Valley Fever endemic areas, such as the southwestern United States, increases the risk of acquiring the disease.

Poor Nutrition

  • In addition, Poor nutrition and an unbalanced diet weaken the dog's immune system and increase its susceptibility to Valley Fever.

Diagnosing Dogs with Valley Fever

Diagnosing dogs with Valley Fever early and accurately is essential to ensure the dog's well-being by initiating appropriate treatment. Moreover, veterinarians use various diagnostic methods to identify dogs with Valley Fever. But the major diagnostic techniques include:

Physical Examination

Assessing the dog's health by a comprehensive physical examination is the first step in diagnosing Valley Fever in dogs. Next, the Veterinarian will consider the dog for common signs and symptoms of the disease, including coughing, fever, lameness, difficulty breathing, lethargy, and skin lesions.

Medical History

A detailed medical history is essential for the diagnosis of the disease. Besides,  the veterinarian should be told about recent activities that may have exposed the dog to a dusty environment, such as travel history or geographic location.

Blood Tests

Blood tests have a crucial role in diagnosing dogs with Valley Fever. Further, the two main types of blood tests include:

  • Complete Blood Count(CBC):  A rise in the white blood cell count with a particular increase in the eosinophils may indicate Valley Fever.
  • Blood Chemistry

In addition, elevated liver enzyme levels, such as alanine aminotransferase ( ALT) and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) are often seen in dogs suffering from valley fever.

Fungal Culture

Samples are collected from the dog’s respiratory secretions, urine, blood, or affected tissues for the growth of Coccidiodes fungus. Finally, a positive culture confirms the presence of Valley Fever.


Serological tests are performed to detect the presence of specific antibodies in the dog’s serum against Coccidiodes. Moreover, two main serological tests include Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELIZA)  and Immunodiffusion (ID) test.


Lung X-rays can aid in confirming the diagnosis by revealing characteristic findings associated with Fungal infections, such as nodules, cavities, and bone lesions.

Best Preventive Measures for Valley Fever Dogs

Here are some strategies to keep your furry friend safe from valley fever. But you may not completely prevent the disease. However, you can minimize the chance of contact and the risk of infection by practicing some preventive strategies. These strategies include:

Avoid Dusty Environments

  • The inhalation of fungal spores primarily transmits valley fever through the dust. Therefore, the risk of infection can be minimized by avoiding exposure to a dusty environment.
  • Keep your dog from playing or digging in dusty areas, especially during windy conditions. Instead, designate a play area for your dog and maintain grass or gravel to avoid dust.

Limit Outdoor Activities

  • You must limit your dog’s outdoor activities during dry seasons because fungal spores are more prevalent.
  • Furthermore, keep your dog away from open fields and construction sites, where soil disturbance is more likely.

Adequate Shelter

  • Providing a clean, dry, and well-ventilated shelter can prevent your dog from various environmental factors contributing to valley fever's spread.
  • The proper shelter also helps maintain the healthy immune system of your dog by preventing exposure to extreme weather conditions.

Maintain Good Hygiene

  • To minimize the presence of fungal spores and reduce the risk of valley fever dogs, you should practice good hygiene.
  • If you live in an endemic area, thoroughly wash your hands after handling soil. In addition, regularly clean the dog’s living area and food and water bowls to reduce the disease risk.

Protective Clothing

  • If you live in a valley fever prevalent area, you should consider using protective clothing in the form of long-sleeved shirts and pants when going outside with your dog.
  • Moreover, this lowers the risk of contact with contaminated soil, thus reducing the chance of spores inhalation.

Regular Veterinary Check-ups

  • To take care of your puppy, you need regular check-ups with your Veterinarian to assess and ensure your dog’s overall health and wellness. Besides, if your dog is healthy and has a robust immune system, it will help fight infections, including Valley fever.
  • Furthermore, your veterinarian will guide you about preventive strategies specific to your dog’s needs considering the region you reside in.

Treatment Options for Dogs with Valley Fever

Valley Fever in dogs is a challenging disease in terms of treatment. However, various proven treatment options are available to manage the infection and help improve the well-being of the affected dogs.

It should be noted that treating dogs with Valley Fever can be a long-term process that may take several months to a year. Furthermore, response to the treatment may vary from dog to dog. The treatment options include:

Antifungal Medications

  • Valley Fever is a known Fungal infection; therefore, dogs with valley fever are primarily treated with antifungal medications. These medications inhibit the growth of Coccidiodes fungus.
  • The two main drugs of this class are fluconazole and itraconazole, administered orally. The severity of the infections determines the dosage and duration of treatment. However, Veterinarian's instructions should be followed regarding the dosage and time of the medicine.
  • The effectiveness of the treatment assesses through regular monitoring through blood tests.

Supportive Care

Supportive maintenance is essential as an adjunct with antifungal medications for the speedy recovery of dogs with valley fever. Main supportive measures include:

  • Symptomatic Treatment:  Symptomatic treatment is essential for the dog's specific symptoms. Cough suppressants and bronchodilators may be prescribed in case of persistent cough. In addition, analgesics can be prescribed to relieve joint pain or lameness.
  • Nutritional Support: A balanced and nutritious diet should be given according to the veterinarian's recommendations to support your dog's recovery. A healthy diet makes a healthy body that fights off infections excellently.
  • Rest and Activity Management: Dogs with valley fever often feel weak and lethargic. Therefore, a calm and comfortable environment for their rest is crucial during the recovery period.

Surgical Intervention

Surgical Intervention is required in rare severe cases when the infection forms abscesses and granulomas. Moreover, a veterinary specialist drains or removes the pimples surgically to treat severe fungal infections. Veterinary surgeries should be performed only by qualified veterinary specialists.

Monitoring and Follow-up

Regular monitoring is essential to evaluate the dog's medication response throughout the treatment. Further, regular follow-up visits to the Veterinarian should be done to perform blood tests and see the infection's progress and the treatment's effectiveness. The veterinarian should adjust the dosage according to the dog's response to the treatment.

Final Thoughts

Valley Fever is a debilitating respiratory disease caused by inhalation of Coccidiodes fungal spores. The condition is more prevalent in the desert areas of the South Western United States. Early recognition of common symptoms, such as cough, fever, and lethargy, is essential to consult a veterinarian on time who can plan an appropriate treatment after conducting various diagnostic tests.

Long-term use of antifungal medication with supportive care is the treatment that regular follow-up check-ups can monitor. Educating pet owners about common dog and cat diseases like cat dry heaving, valley fever, causes, symptoms, prevention, and treatment is essential to keep your furry friend safe and enjoying your time together.

Explore our Vet and Tech platform for more research-based authentic guides on veterinary procedures, diseases, and their management.

Frequently Asked Questions  

Can Valley Fever Dogs affect the dog’s owner?

Yes, valley fever dogs can affect both humans and pets. The dog’s owner can be sick by inhalation of the fungal spores via dust in the air. However, the disease is not contagious from dogs to humans.

Are some dog breeds more susceptible to Valley Fever?

Yes, some dog breeds, such as Boxer, German Shepherd, and Labrador Retriever, may be more susceptible to the disease.

Can Valley Fever be cured completely?

Yes, valley fever in dogs can be cured using long-term antifungal medications. However, the treatment duration depends on the disease's severity and the dog's response to treatment.

Can Valley Fever recur in dogs?

Yes, valley fever can recur in dogs, mainly those with weaker immune systems and those living in endemic areas.