Valley Fever in Dogs

Valley Fever in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Valley Fever?

Dogs which come into contact with fungus or become diagnosed with a fungal infection can become quite ill. One particular disease caused by a type of fungus is known as Valley Fever. The offending fungus is Coccidioides immitis, and Valley Fever is also called coccidioidomycosis. 

The fungus lives in soil and thrives in hot, desert environments. States that this fungus grows plentifully in are Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Texas, and California. It is also prevalent in Mexico and South and Central America. The disease is more prevalent in the summer months and in the late fall.

Valley Fever is limited to the lungs of dogs, and is not contagious to humans or other dogs. The severe cough cannot cause the infection to spread; only inhalation of the fungal spores can cause Valley Fever.

Valley Fever in dogs is a fungal infection that can affect the lungs. This is often found in certain desert-like environments in specific areas of North America.

Symptoms of Valley Fever in Dogs

  • Lameness
  • Swollen joints
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Moderate to severe cough
  • Malaise
  • Possible ulcers on the skin (rare)


Valley Fever goes by several different names, and may be used interchangeably by medical professionals or in books and articles featuring this disease. Other types of names may include:

  • Desert Rheumatism
  • San Joaquin Valley Fever
  • California Disease

Causes of Valley Fever in Dogs

If you and your dog live in an environment that is conducive to this condition, make an appointment with your veterinarian before the symptoms become too severe. Causes of Valley Fever include:

  • Inhalation of fungi spores (windborne)
  • Fungal spores thrive in the soil of certain regions
  • Living in a climate which prevalence is high
  • Dust particle inhalation

Diagnosis of Valley Fever in Dogs

If your dog is showing symptoms of Valley Fever and lives in a state or area where Valley Fever is common, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Fortunately, there is a test specifically for Valley Fever to enable your veterinarian to come to a definitive diagnosis.

Once you take your dog to the veterinarian, he will do some laboratory testing. He will perform blood work, urinalysis, biochemistry profile, and any other tests that he feels are necessary to rule out any other conditions. He will then take a closer look at his symptoms. He will ask you about his coughing, weight loss, and fever and want to know how long the symptoms have lasted. A serum test and a white blood cell test may also be conducted, as well as x-rays to help the veterinarian become closer to his diagnosis.

Your veterinarian may then perform a test for Valley Fever, which is known as a Cocci test. This test will accurately check the blood of your dog to determine if his blood is producing antibodies that are fighting the fungus. If a positive result occurs, your veterinarian will order a titer from the laboratory. This is a test that effectively will measure the amount of antibodies that are being produced in fighting the fungus. 

If your dog has a low titer amount, other tests will be necessary. Blood cell counts, imaging, examination of the cells, and biopsies may be conducted. A high titer amount may be related to another type of disease and your veterinarian will perform more laboratory panels to help him discover what is affecting your dog.

Treatment of Valley Fever in Dogs

If your dog has been diagnosed with Valley Fever, your veterinarian will recommend the following forms of treatment, which may vary from dog to dog. Treatment methods may include:

Antifungal Treatment

Long term treatment with antifungal medications will be needed in order to treat your dog. Treatment may last up to one year. There are three types of medications given, and the medication of choice will be determined by your dog’s condition and your veterinarian. Fluconazole, Ketoconazole, and Itraconazole are the antifungal medications your veterinarian will choose from. They are effective at targeting the fungus and will halt the growth within your dog.

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Recovery of Valley Fever in Dogs

If caught and treated early, dogs can successfully recover from Valley Fever. Your dog will need to continue the antifungal treatment for up to one year and your veterinarian will require follow-up visits to monitor his recovery.

It will be important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions on how to care for your dog at home. Be sure to give his medication to him at the same time every day and do not miss a dose.

Unfortunately, Valley Fever can be fatal if it is diagnosed in the late stages. Your veterinarian will be honest with you as to your dog’s prognosis, and will give you advice on any decision you may need to make in terms of his life.

Valley Fever Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals





Five Years


7 found this helpful


7 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Valley Fever/Urinating Defecating Inside
She was diagnosed with valley fever 2-3 weeks ago, she is doing alot better but we did notice that about a week ago she started having alot of potty incidents inside. Which is very rare for her to do, she will go outside twice during the day but she will still go unside regardless. Before this I can count with one hand how many times she had accidents inside. Can this be caused by the valley fever or the medication?

Sept. 29, 2020

Answered by Dr. Michele K. DVM

7 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. The urinating inside would not in my mind be related to the valley fever, but it may be related to the medications. I'm not sure what medication she is on, but if a steroid is one of her medications, that is a common side-effect with that drug. If you are not sure, it is completely fine to call your veterinarian, and ask if any of the medications that she is on have a side effect of increased urination. I hope that all goes well for her and she continues to improve.

Oct. 1, 2020

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Cane Corso




6 Years


1 found this helpful


1 found this helpful

My pet has the following symptoms:
Bone Lesion
The problem started with my dog 6 months ago.He had extreme pain in his shoulder.They took xrays and nothing wrong with his shoulder in the xrays but the vet was a little concerned about something with his lungs.she told me to keep him confined for 8 wks on rhimadyl and tramadol and recheck in 8 wks.His shoulder was better in 8 wks and she didnt say any more about his i thought nothing of it.a week later my dog started having pain in his back and i took him to a different vet.This vet recomended blood work and full body xrays and i brought him the xrays from the first vet also.he didnt find anything in the blood work and he went over all the xrays except the lower back legs with me showing me nothing was wrong with his shoulders ,spine,hips or knees.So he thought possible pinched nerve in his back causing pain.But other than that he had a clean bill of health.a week later my dog started to limp just a little after first waking up.i didnt think much of it cause he just had a clean bill of health.over the next couple months that progressed into being totally lame on that leg.So i took him back to the vet and they xrayed his leg and he had a bone tumor.They told me he had 3 months to live and there was nothing they could do but refer me to a cancer specialist.At this point i am out of money.I have already spent over $2000 that i didnt really have to be told he was healthy and a week later start limping with bone cancer.After thinking about the chain of events that led up to this.i wondered if that was what the first vet was seeing in his lungs 6 months ago when she mentioned she was concerned .So i went to her and asked her to check those xrays again and tell me if it was the cancer she was seeing back then.She reviewed them again and she said it did look like it was possibly and then she mentioned valley fever.I dont think she was real familiar with it though because she said it was a virus that could be treated with antibiotics.Which is not the case from everything i have read about it.But my dogs symptoms leading to all of this do fit alot of the symptoms of valley fever.She had me get copies of the xrays from the second vet and she looked at those and said she was probably wrong that it did look like cancer.I have looked at xrays of dogs legs online that have bone lesions from valley fever a from osteosarcoma and they look alot alike almost exactly.So i dont know why she would come to that conclusion from seeing the xray.My dog would go hiking with me atleast 3 times a week all over the the desert we live in.always covering new ground and i guess valley fever is in this area.i live in southern ca and we have been out walking in every part of this area.That was our favorite thing to do.So he was definately at risk for being exposed to it.i wasnt familiar with valley fever and didnt know i may be exposing him.So i am still wondering if the cancer would have shown up in his lungs before the bone tumor came up on his leg.Because i found no other case of it happening in that order.Or should i be more concerned about it possibly being valley fever.I have all his xrays on disc and can send them to you if it would help and you can definately see something going on in his lungs months before the suspected bone tumor.What do you think.I dont feel right about putting him to sleep for the bone cancer before ruling out valley fever and i just dont have any more money to have all the tests done

June 11, 2018

Answered by Dr. Michele K. DVM

1 Recommendations

Bone cancer tends to show up in the bones before it metastasizes to the lungs. Valley fever and bone cancer can be difficult to differentiate in later stages, but signs before that tend to make us consider that disease, such as weight loss and fever. The way to tell for sure would be to have a test for Valley Fever, or a biopsy, or your veterinarian can prescribe antifungal medication and you can hope... it may be that regardless of the diagnosis, Vito may be suffering, and that needs to be taken into consideration, sadly.

June 11, 2018

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