pet health Archives - Hot Diggity! Pet Sitting

In the Pacific Northwest there are many natural diseases hiding under rocks, in fields, or in puddles, waiting to get past our pets’ immune systems. However there’s one disease that we’re very fortunate to rarely ever encounter: Valley Fever. This special disease, caused by a fungus known as Coccidiodes immitis, is found in desert regions such as the American Southwest region including California, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, and more. While dogs and other pets living in the Pacific Northwest might not encounter the fungi here, many dogs are moved from high kill shelters in the Southwest to loving homes in the PNW, and sometimes those dogs have Valley Fever.

One such dog is a young Mr. Johnny Cash. Cash is a very sweet little white shadow of an Aussie who loves to be next to his person and is available for adoption from Deaf Dogs of Oregon at the time of writing this blog post. Cash was rescued from a high-kill shelter in the Southwest and discovered to have Valley Fever. To understand what that means for dogs like Cash, read on!

What is Valley Fever?

As mentioned before, this disease is caused by the fungus known as Coccidiodes immitis. This pathogenic fungus can and does most commonly infect humans, but it also can infect a wide range of other animals including cats and dogs. Dogs are especially susceptible because they like to sniff and dig in the soil which is where C. immitis grows. During the dry season, C. immitis exits in a dormant mode in the soil and is not infectious, but after a wet-spell the fungus grows long filaments of mold with infectious spores on the ends. When these spores are inhaled into living organisms they create yeast-like infections in the lungs.

Is Valley Fever contagious?

No. Valley Fever cannot spread from organism to organism. While in yeast-like form (when it has infected a living organism) it does not create the spores which are the only infectious part of C. immitis.

What does Valley Fever look like?

In healthy dogs and cats, their immune system usually isolates the fungus and prevents them from causing symptoms of the disease. Many infected animals don’t show any signs at all. However in dogs with weakened immune systems, including very young puppies and older dogs, these infections will grow too large for the immune systems to handle and can cause visible symptoms of the disease and infect other organs.

Valley Fever is classified into two diseases, the Primary Disease and the Disseminated Disease:

  • In the Primary Disease, the infection is limited to the lungs. About three weeks after infection symptoms such as a dry cough, fever, lack of appetite, and lethargy become apparent.
  • In the Disseminated Disease, the infection spreads beyond the lungs and infects other organs including the brain, bones, heart, and eyes. Often it affects the bones and the symptoms will then progress to looking something like arthritis. Dogs suffering will show signs of lameness or limb swelling. Other symptoms of the Disseminated version of Valley Fever may include wounds that don’t heal*, swollen lymph nodes, back or neck pain, seizures, inflamed and/or cloudy eyes, abscesses under the skin, and even unexpected heart-failure. Sometimes a dog may show no symptoms of the Primary Disease before showing symptoms of the Disseminated Disease.

Cash’s Valley Fever has infected his bones, but as he’s on regular antifungal medication the disease is not progressing further and is healing up. This does cause him to act like he has arthritis and be limited in movement, but this will go away when his infection does.

*Special note that if the dog does have open wounds that are oozing liquid, while the number of organisms shed in the liquid should be low (when receiving antifungal medication), this liquid may still contain fungus that could spore again and become infectious to humans and other creatures in the household. Therefore bandages should be changed daily and thrown away directly into outside waste containers to prevent sporing from happening in the house. Non-permeable surfaces can be cleaned with a diluted (10%) bleach solution. For most people and animals with healthy immune systems, there should be little to no risk even if a dog has an infected open wound, and the liquid oozing itself is not infectious since it does not contain spores. However households that have immuno-compromised members should consult with a doctor or a vet and follow their instructions on how to maintain a spore free home. (And once again, Cash does not have this problem and is NOT contagious.)

How is Valley Fever diagnosed?

In the Pacific Northwest, where Valley Fever is not native, you’ll need to let your veterinarian know the travel history of your new dog. If they then suspect that their symptoms come from Valley Fever, there are a few different blood tests that can be used to diagnose Valley Fever, along with x-rays of the chest or bones.

How is Valley Fever treated?

If your dog is sick enough to be seen by a veterinarian for Valley Fever, then the disease will likely need to be treated by extensive antifungal medications with courses usually lasting between 6 and 12 months. If the disease has progressed into the disseminated stage, then the treatment may be longer. The medication is easy to administer, it’s usually just provided orally in the form of pills or capsules twice a day.

For dogs with bone or joint pain or coughing, other medications may be prescribed as well to relieve the suffering from these symptoms.

If you have a dog with Valley Fever, you can still go on vacation no problem! Hot Diggity! Sitters know how to administer pet medications and will stick to your medication schedule to ensure your pet’s health while you’re away.

And to help out the new furever family of Cash, Deaf Dogs of Oregon is paying for a full year’s worth of medication (starting from when he moved up to Oregon, so about another 10 months left now)! So his new family won’t even have to worry about figuring out what medication to put him on or paying for it for several months and hopefully the majority of his treatment.

What is the prognosis for a Valley Fever infection?

With early detection and intervention, most dogs recover from Valley Fever. Even with the Disseminated Disease version of Valley Fever, more than 90% of dogs respond well to treatment and recover. Only a very small portion of dogs either need lifetime treatment or will die from the disease.

In short.

Valley Fever is a highly treatable disease that is common in dogs rescued from Southwest shelters. Left undiagnosed and untreated, it can become severe and dangerous to the dog, but when treated there is a high success rate of clearing up the infection. It is not contagious to humans or other animals, just painful and unpleasant for the infected pet. With love and care, as all pets need anyways, almost all dogs recover from this disease to live the rest of their lives happily and healthily.

So you can expect a lot of happy years with the lovely and sweet Mr. Johnny Cash if you adopt him!

And as an added help, Hot Diggity! will provide any family that adopts Cash 3 Free 30-Minute Walks to help transition him to his new home as well as a lifetime 10% discount on all of our services for all pets in the family.

To learn more about Cash, you can read about him here or just contact Deaf Dogs of Oregon and meet him yourself!

Oh, and are you worried about adopting a deaf dog? Don’t! Does your hearing dog really listen to you anyways? Just kidding. 😉 But really, deaf dogs are just like normal dogs and especially since most of them are Australian Shepherds, extremely intelligent and highly trainable. Plus when you adopt through Deaf Dogs of Oregon they’ll have already undergone some training from being in foster care and you get a free training session with a specialized trainer too.

Additional Reading:

Is your normal walk or run with Buster just not cutting it? Does the lack of a competitive component to hiking in the woods bore you? Do you and Buster just love to support your favorite organizations while having a fun time? Well we’ve put together a list of 7 Portland Walks and Run events for charity that you can bring Buster to! Due to insurance concerns, not too many runs are open to dogs, but there are still quite a few events still available throughout the year. Here are some charity events held annually around the Portland area that you can bring your dog to:

  1. The Humane Society for SW Washington holds an annual Walk/Run for the Animals usually in May. This is held in Downtown Vancouver and raises funds to support their adoption services. This year the event is May 5th, 2018.
  2. Oregon Humane Society holds an annual Doggie Dash event at the end of May to support finding homes for thousands of homeless pets. This is held in downtown Portland at the Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Doggie Dash will be held on May 12th, 2018.
  3. The Best Friends Society holds an annual Strut Your Mutt event in different cities all around the country including Portland in September. There’s lots of activities to do here even after you finish your run or walk and plenty of vendors to visit.
  4. DoveLewis holds an annual Westie Walk in August. Don’t have a cute Westie? Don’t worry! No matter their pedigree, all friends of Westies are welcome.
  5. The annual Corgi Walk in The Pearl is held in August. Every dollar raised goes to helping abandoned and abused Corgis find happy furever homes through the CRPWCC Corgi Rescue as well as to other pets through the Oregon Humane Society.
  6. Come out for a good time in late summer with the Family Dogs New Life Shelter’s annual Fun Walk and 5k Run. There’s a lot of fun vendors to meet there as well as great prizes in the raffle.
  7. Rose Haven isn’t an animal rescue, although they are pet friendly since they understand that the pets of the women and children they help are part of their families too. Instead, Rose Haven focuses on helping women and children going through abuse or other disruptive life challenges by providing them with a safe community and services to help them. Every Mother’s day weekend they hold their annual Reigning Roses Mother’s Day Walk which is fun and also dog friendly! The 2018 Reigning Roses Mother’s Day Walk will be held on May 13th.

We hope you have fun throughout the year helping these great organizations and getting in some wonderful sunshine and fresh air with Buster. Know any other annual walks or runs in the Portland area that are dog friendly? Let us know! And to find more great organizations helping pets in the Portland area, check out our Community Partners page.

Its no secret that our dog pals love to eat. Not only do they want a piece of their food, but they typically want a piece of our food as well! With those adorable faces staring right at you, it can be hard to say no. But it is so important to know if the scraps you feed your furry friend are actually safe for them.

Most of us know the basics; no corn cobs, chocolate or grapes. But after doing a little more digging, there were some foods I found to be a surprise on the do-not-feed list. Some of them may seem obvious, some less so. It’s never a bad idea to brush up on these DONT’S. It can be all too easy to slip our mind and give our pets a piece of our left overs.

  • Bacon- I’m sure we have many guilty dog parents who wanted to give their pal their first piece of bacon. I’ve found from multiple sources that bacon can lead to serious digestive issues or if given too much can cause pancreatitis, which can be very dangerous for our four legged friends!
  • Peanut Butter- Not that this is a complete no no. However, I wanted to shine a light on the fact to make sure the peanut butter does not contain the artificial sweetener xylitol, which is an ingredient deadly to dogs. Added salt content is also bad for their cardiovascular health. Peanut Butter is a lifesaver when it comes to getting stubborn doggos to take their medication, so just make sure it’s free from salt and especially xylitol. Adam’s 100% Natural Peanut Butter is a delicious and easily available brand that carries a plain Peanut Butter safe for dogs.
  • Raw Eggs- I’m sure there are plenty of people who like to crack open an egg and pour it over dog food to make it more appealing, however this cause a high risk of catching salmonella and e. coli infections, and a dogs system can have a hard time battling that off.
  • Raw Potatoes- Green Potato Poisoning happens when dogs eat too much solanine, a compound found in raw potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplants. The symptoms include heart problems, breathing difficulty, and digestive issues.
  • Dairy- Pouring some milk in the dog bowl or sharing your ice cream cone may sound like a good idea, but dogs stomachs can not process diary the same way we do, so it can end up leading to a lot of uncomfortable stomach issues if consumed too often. Watch the yogurt servings too, some dogs can be sensitive to it!
  • Honorable mentions: Cherry pits, mushrooms, garlic/onions, apricot pit, avocado pits.

Now let’s focus on some of the healthy human foods we CAN feed our four legged friends!

  • Apples- Is a great source of vitamin A & C as well as an excellent fiber source. Just make sure to remove the seeds, which can be not so great for dogs to digest!
  • Blueberries- Are an excellent source of antioxidants for dogs, and make good treats for tossing in the air for them to catch.
  • Brussels Sprouts- Are loaded with great nutrients for dogs, just don’t give them too much or they may get gassy.
  • Carrots- Are a great low calorie snack, and great for strong healthy teeth.
  • Celery- Is a great healthy snack loaded with vitamins.
  • Cucumber- Is a great treat for overweight dogs , and can even help boost energy levels.
  • Honorable mentions in moderation: Pineapple, raspberries, strawberries, spinach, watermelon, bananas, and broccoli

I hope this list shines a light on some of the delicious human foods you keep in your kitchen, and just remember; our stomach and their stomach don’t process foods the same way. A lot of these can vary on the breed, size, and age of your dog, and you could be doing a lot more harm then good for their digestive system.

Sources- akc.org, iheartdogs.com, webmd.com, dogtime.com, foodbeast.com, aspca.org, petpoisonhelpline.com