Dusty Dogs

With all the recent storm activity in metro Phoenix, Happy Dog Phoenix thought
it would be a good idea to ask an expert about how the monsoons can affect your dog.

We turned to Dr. Billy Griswold, co-owner of Priority Pet Hospital in Gilbert, AZ. Priority Pet Hospital serves the East Valley and they are great providing low-stress preventive, medical, surgical and dental care for dogs and cats.

Here’s what Dr. Griswold said:

“Blowing dust causes many of the same problems in dogs as it does in people. Fortunately, asthma is pretty uncommon in dogs, but dust can irritate the eyes and respiratory tract, leading to coughing, sneezing, and eye discharge.

Winds distribute airborne pollen and other allergens greater distances during dust storms, too, so pets with seasonal allergies can have more severe symptoms during the monsoon season in Arizona.

The biggest threat from Arizona’s dust storms, though, is Valley Fever. The microscopic spores of the soil fungus known as Coccidioides immitis are blown far and wide during dust storms. Once inhaled, they enter the lungs of dogs, people, and many other animals.

If the host’s immune system doesn’t respond swiftly, infection results—about four out of every 100 dogs in Maricopa and Pima counties gets sick each year.  Most veterinarians in Arizona see an uptick of new Valley Fever infections during and shortly after our monsoon season.

Classic signs of Valley Fever include a lack of energy, decreased appetite, and weight loss. Cough and fever can be seen as well. Less-commonly, Valley Fever can invade the bone (causing a limp or other signs of bone pain) or the brain (resulting in seizures).

Unfortunately, efforts to create a Valley Fever vaccine for dogs haven’t been successful. The best prevention is avoidance. Digging, sniffing rodent burrows and other desert holes, and an outdoor lifestyle all increase a dog’s risk of exposure to Valley Fever.

Want to know more about Valley Fever? Priority Pet Hospital’s blog has the answers for you.

One Comment

  1. Janice Arenofsky says:

    Thanks for your article on valley fever. As executive director of Arizona Victims of Valley Fever and a pet owner who has lost a dog to valley fever, I know the dangers of this disease. You mention a vaccine, but that would be a long time coming inasmuch as Arizona has not contributed any monies toward that end and treats valley fever as if it were no big deal–to man or beast. Until Arizona stops denying that it has a moral duty to help find a preventive or better treatment for valley fever, I’m afraid many more pets will get sick and/or die from the disease. No one knows how many pets actually get sick from the disease since veterinarians do not have to keep track of these stats. For more info on dogs and vf, contact http://www.arizonavictimsofvalleyfever.org and http://www.vfce.arizonal.edu.

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