The most common early symptoms of primary pulmonary Valley Fever
in dogs are:
Valley Fever in lungs and chest cavity of a dog
- weight loss
- lack of appetite
- lack of energy
Some or all of these symptoms may be present as a result of infection in the lungs.
As the infection progresses, dogs can develop pneumonia that is visible on x-rays.
Sometimes the coughing is caused by pressure of swollen lymph nodes near the heart
pressing on the dog's windpipe and irritating it. These dogs often have a dry, hacking
or honking kind of cough and the swollen lymph nodes can be seen on x-rays.
When the infection spreads outside the lungs, it causes disseminated
disease. The most common symptom of disseminated disease in dogs is lameness; the
fungus has a predilection for infecting bones of the legs in dogs. However, Valley
Fever can occur in almost any organ of dogs. Signs of disseminated Valley Fever
Valley Fever in bone
below knee of dog
- lameness or swelling of limbs
- back or neck pain, with or without weakness/paralysis
- seizures and other manifestations of brain swelling
- soft abscess-like swelling under the skin
- swollen lymph nodes under the chin, in front of the shoulder blades, or behind the
- non-healing skin ulcerations or draining tracts that ooze fluid
- eye inflammation with pain or cloudiness
- unexpected heart failure in a young dog
- swollen testicles
Sometimes a dog will not have any signs of a primary infection in the lungs, such
as coughing, but will only develop symptoms of disseminated disease, e.g., lameness,
seizures. Very few of the signs of Valley Fever are specific to this disease alone
and your veterinarian will do tests and x-rays to determine that your dog's illness
is Valley Fever and to rule out other causes.
FAQ – Is Valley Fever contagious
from animal to animal or animal to human?
Valley Fever is considered a noncontagious disease. Even if multiple animals or
humans are affected in a household, each infection was acquired by inhaling spores
from the soil. Coughing cannot spread it between animals or people.
FAQ – What about open sores or draining
lesions? Can these make me sick or spread the fungus to the environment?
The form of the organism in the fluid of draining lesions is not considered to be
infectious to people or animals. If your animal is receiving antifungal medication,
the number of organisms shed in the fluid is also likely to be very low. Nevertheless,
draining lesions are best handled in a way to minimize the fluid in your environment.
Where possible, wounds can be bandaged. Bandages should be changed daily or every
other day and discarded in outside waste containers to minimize risk of having spores
grow on the bandage material and become a risk to humans and others in the house.
If the lesion is on the side or back of a dog, a T-shirt can be put on the dog and
it should be changed and washed daily or every other day. Cleaning impermeable surfaces
with dilute (10%) bleach will kill organisms. Hands should be washed after handling
the wounds or bandages.
For immunocompromised persons, pregnant and postpartum women, or babies and very
young children living in a household with a pet that has a draining lesion, it is
recommended to consult your physician regarding this issue and follow their advice.