Prognosis / Outcome

Most dogs, with adequate antifungal therapy, do recover from this disease, especially with early diagnosis and intervention.


Dogs with uncomplicated (mild to moderate) infection only in the lungs

have the best prognosis for recovery and usually respond the quickest to treatment. However, dogs can have extensive lung disease that is so severe and progressive that they require hospitalization, or surgery to remove diseased lung, or may die.

Complicated lung Valley Fever in a dog

Dogs with disseminated infection

As with lung infections, the majority of dogs with disseminated disease respond well to medication and lead normal lives, though they often require prolonged drug treatment (12-18 months). A small proportion of animals must take medication for life, and another small number, unfortunately, die of Valley Fever in spite of drug treatment. Dogs with disease in many locations in their bodies, dogs responding poorly to treatment, and dogs who have progressive disease in the face of medication, carry the most guarded prognoses. 

 

Dogs with Valley Fever in the brain (seizures, etc)

also carry a guarded prognosis. Among those that respond to medication (about 80%), most will remain well with fluconazole (Diflucan), but treatment may be required for life. These dogs will transiently need treatment with anti-seizure medication and steroids for brain swelling in addition to antifungal medication.

In animals with severe bone infections and the pain that goes with them

Pain medicine and anti-inflammatories can be prescribed by your veterinarian.

Pain relief will often provide the comfort and support needed to allow the Valley Fever medication time to take effect. Treatment of high fevers with anti-inflammatories is helpful, since fever reduction can improve the appetite and energy level of the dogs, and simply improve the way they feel overall.

For dogs that are seriously ill, requiring hospitalization and supportive therapy, the prognosis can be grave.

With aggressive treatment, possibly including intravenous antifungal medication, these patients may get well. Some dogs do not recover in spite of everyone's best efforts, either due to the severity of illness at the time of diagnosis or because of long-standing, poorly responsive disease. Fortunately, they represent a minority of dogs with Valley Fever.

Statistics regarding how many dogs recover compared to those which do not are not available, but in general, more than 90% of dogs respond and recover.

 

Stopping Treatment

Treatment of Valley Fever in your dog is monitored by rechecks with your veterinarian.

Your veterinarian will examine your dog to look for improvement as well as performing blood tests and possibly x-rays to monitor progress and make sure the medication is not harming your dog. If your dog is very ill, rechecks may be frequent at first. As the disease stabilizes and recovery becomes apparent, your veterinarian will probably only need to evaluate your dog every 2-4 months.

Medication

It is very important to continue medicating your dog as directed until the veterinarian confirms that the blood tests are improved and tells you to stop medication. If you stop treating too soon, symptoms may recur. If symptoms recur after your dog is taken off medication, your veterinarian will probably recommend resuming treatment and may suggest the dog remain on medication for life.

Can Valley Fever relapse and can dogs be reinfected?

Valley Fever is well known to relapse in both humans and dogs.

In particular, cases of disseminated infection have a 30-50% rate of relapse in humans, no matter how well the initial infection was treated. It is not known how many canine cases of Valley Fever relapse, but relapses are not uncommon and the rate may be similar to people.

In the case of a relapse, a return to medication is usually enough to make symptoms subside,

but the dog may require several additional months of treatment. Dogs that experience more than one relapse or get very sick with the relapse should probably have lifetime treatment with medication considered.

Reinfections

a brand new infection from spores in the environment – in humans are documented only rarely. It is not known at this time whether dogs are susceptible to reinfection or whether recurring illness is always due to the original infection.