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NOTE: We are NOT taking ferals on the following dates for the month of June, 6/5, 6/6, and 6/14.  Starting in 2024 all dog spay/neuter surgeries will be required to go home with an e-collar (cone) for $15.

pet health issues

5 Common Pet Health Issues in Tucson and How to Prevent Them

As pet owners in Tucson, we cherish the companionship and joy our furry friends bring into our lives. However, just like us, our pets can face health challenges. In this guide, we will explore the 5 common pet health issues affecting animals in Tucson and provide you with actionable tips on preventing them. By understanding these potential problems and taking preventive measures, you can ensure your pets lead long, happy, and healthy lives.

1. Obesity and Overweight Pets

Obesity is a prevalent health issue among pets in Tucson, just as it is among humans. Many factors contribute to this problem, such as overfeeding, lack of exercise, and high-calorie treats. The consequences of obesity in pets can be severe, leading to joint problems, heart disease, and a reduced lifespan.

To prevent obesity in your pets, follow these tips:

  • Proper Diet: Consult with a veterinarian to determine the right portion sizes and the best diet for your pet’s age, size, and breed.
  • Regular Exercise: Engage your pets in daily physical activities to keep them active and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Limit Treats: Be mindful of treat consumption and opt for healthier options like carrots or low-calorie treats.

2. Dental Health Issues

Dental problems are common in pets, and they can lead to discomfort, bad breath, and even more severe health issues. Regular dental care is essential to prevent dental diseases in your furry companions.

Here’s how to maintain your pet’s dental health:

  • Regular Brushing: Brush your pet’s teeth regularly using a pet-friendly toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Chew Toys: Provide chew toys designed to promote dental health and reduce plaque buildup.
  • Annual Dental Check-ups: Schedule regular check-ups with your veterinarian to detect any dental issues early.

3. Fleas, Ticks, and Parasites

Tucson’s warm climate makes it an ideal breeding ground for fleas, ticks, and parasites. These pesky creatures can cause discomfort, transmit diseases, and even lead to severe health problems if left untreated.

To protect your pets from fleas, ticks, and parasites:

  • Regular Grooming: Groom your pets regularly and check for signs of fleas or ticks.
  • Flea Preventatives: Use veterinarian-recommended flea and tick preventatives.
  • Indoor Cleanliness: Keep your living spaces clean and vacuum regularly to prevent infestations.

4. Heatstroke and Dehydration

The scorching Tucson summers can be particularly challenging for our furry friends. Heatstroke and dehydration are significant concerns for pets in hot weather.

To keep your pets safe during hot weather:

  • Ample Water Supply: Ensure your pets have access to fresh water at all times.
  • Shade and Rest: Provide shaded areas and encourage your pets to rest during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Avoid Overexertion: Limit outdoor activities in extreme heat, especially during peak sun hours.

5. Allergies

Pets can develop allergies, just like humans. Allergies may be triggered by food, environmental factors, or even certain grooming products.

To manage pet allergies:

  • Identify Allergens: Work with your veterinarian to identify and eliminate potential allergens.
  • Hypoallergenic Diet: Consider a hypoallergenic diet if food allergies are suspected.
  • Medication and Treatment: Follow your veterinarian’s advice on allergy medications or treatments.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How can I tell if my pet is overweight?

A: You can check if your pet is overweight by feeling their ribs; they should be easily felt without excess fat covering them.

2. Can dental issues cause other health problems in pets?

A: Yes, untreated dental problems can lead to more severe health issues, affecting the heart, kidneys, and overall well-being of your pet.

3. Are natural flea preventatives effective?

A: Some natural flea preventatives can be effective, but it’s best to consult with your veterinarian for the most reliable solutions.

4. Can I leave my pet outside during the summer?

A: While pets can enjoy outdoor time, make sure they have access to shade, water, and are not left outside during the hottest parts of the day.

5. What are the common signs of pet allergies?

A: Common signs of pet allergies include itching, redness, skin rashes, sneezing, and gastrointestinal issues.


Being aware of the 5 common pet health issues in Tucson and taking preventive measures is crucial for ensuring the well-being of your beloved pets. By following the tips provided in this guide and working closely with your veterinarian, you can provide the best care and support to keep your furry companions healthy and happy. Remember, a healthy pet is a happy pet! Contact us if your pet is feeling sick and need professional help!

Dog Teeth Problems

dog teeth problems

Much like humans, dogs can also develop oral diseases, including broken teeth and periodontal diseases. Dogs are five times more susceptible to dental problems than humans. In addition, the prevalence of periodontal diseases is at 80% among dogs over the age of 3.

The most common dental problem among dogs is bad breath. However, this is quite harmless when not accompanied by other serious dental diseases like periodontal disease. In the same line, cavities are also common among dogs and harmless when they are not a symptom of something serious.

This is because canines have an alkalizing mouth which promotes the buildup of plaques in their mouth. As bacteria multiply, their symptoms also do. As a result, it can lead to inflammation and tissue damage. This causes tooth loss and pain for your pup.

This article takes you through the various dog teeth problems often seen in your pet. Keep reading for signs, treatment, and prevention.

What is Dental Disease in Dogs?

Unlike humans, canines have little to no problems with tooth decay. But most dogs over three years old have dental disease. It comes in four stages, generally beginning with plaque and tartar in the mouth. This then leads to lightly inflamed gums, often called gingivitis.

If left untreated, they can progress into severe gum disease (periodontitis). And in due course, it may involve loss of bone and soft tissue around the affected teeth. In severe cases, it can affect other organs in your pet’s body and even organ failure.

Periodontal disease is one of the most common dental diseases seen in dogs. More than two-thirds of dogs aged three and older have the disease. Another common condition seen is fractured teeth. However, cavities are pretty rare and are present in only 10% of oral conditions.

When do Dogs Get Teeth Problems?

Dogs generally develop gingivitis at two years of age. However, it can get better with regular treatment. By the time they are three years of age, most dogs would have developed a dental disease. Gingivitis progresses to periodontal disease at about 4-6 years of age. When left untreated, it leads to bone loss.

Are Dental Problems Common in Dogs?

Dental disease is quite prevalent in canines. It is one of the most common ailments seen by vets. Unfortunately, only a few pets show outward signs of the disease. Therefore, it is up to the vet and the owner to spot this painful condition.

Of all dental diseases, periodontal disease is the most common infectious disease. It is a progressive, inflammatory disease that affects the supporting structures of the teeth. It is also the leading cause of early tooth loss in dogs.

Is the Dental Disease in Dogs Fatal?

Periodontal disease can cause more complications than just pain and loss of teeth. Untreated inflammation in pets can be a leading cause of liver, heart, and kidney diseases. In the end, they can untreated gum disease can destroy the bone so much so that even the slightest pressure can fracture your dog’s jaw.

Common Dog Teeth Problems

Dental complaints are the most common health problem for dogs. One of the most common issues is bad breath. Bad breath though harmless, does show signs of bad dental health. On the other hand, Cavities are uncommon and periodontal, or gum disease in canines is not.

Periodontal disease is one of the most commonly encountered health problems in dogs. The condition affects about 80% of pets by the age of three.

Teeth issues can harm the overall health and dog’s quality of life of your dog.

Plaque and Tartar Buildup

Plaque is an adhesive film on the inside of the tooth. It is a whitish substance consisting mainly of bacteria. The plaque creates a foul smell that increases with time unless you brush. When left unattended, they cause tooth decay and gum disease.

If not brushed within 24 – 48 hours, the plaque thickens into a hard substance called tartar. Also called calculus, tartar is a yellow or brown-colored substance that stays affixed to the teeth. At this point, they are not removed by brushing and will need to be scraped with a hard object. Once it reaches the gum line, it can irritate, leading to gum disease.

The primary signs dog owners will notice are poor quality breath, stained teeth, and red gum line. As it progresses, you may also find worsening breath and bleeding gums. Other contributing factors for gum disease are age, diet, breed, and genetics.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is a painful bacterial infection that affects the liver, heart, and kidneys when left untreated. As the name indicates, it affects the gums and the bones that surround the teeth. The dental disease is generally silent—there aren’t many apparent early signs and symptoms. However, once it advances, it causes untold pain for your dog, missing teeth, bone loss, swollen gums, and more.

Gingivitis/Gum Disease

vet brushing dog teeth

Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease. The gums are inflamed due to the bacterial plaque, but the infection hasn’t reached the bones and ligaments. So in truth, the tartar that you see isn’t the reason for the infection.

When the hard tartar digs into the gums and gets under the gum line, it starts a vicious cycle of infection. The bacteria get trapped, which causes damage to the supporting tissues and the surrounding bone structure.

The inflamed gums become red or purple and swollen, bleeding on contact. Gingivitis at this stage is reversible. It is treated via a professional dental cleaning (under anesthesia). Following that, pet owners should follow proper oral hygiene, such as daily tooth brushing and dental cleaning.


In the case of periodontitis, the infection is much more severe and affects the gum tissue, bones, and ligaments. As the vital supports of the teeth diminish, pockets develop around the roots of the teeth. This allows food, bacteria, and other debris to collect, causing infections.

The bacterial buildup in these pockets secretes a toxic substance causing further damage to the tissue. The resulting inflammation triggers the dog’s immune system, bringing in the white blood cells to fight the bacteria. However, in the process, the surrounding tissues and bones are also damaged. Over time teeth loosen and begin falling from the mouth.

Dentists treat periodontitis with a professional cleaning and regular treatment. In severe cases, your pet may require oral surgery to reach the root surface.

Tooth Root Abscess

In severe cases of periodontal disease, the bacteria reaches deep into the roots of the teeth. And then, it starts destroying the root depriving the tooth of its blood supply resulting in tissue destruction. This stimulates a response from the immune system, which floods the area with white blood cells (pus or abscess). At this stage, your pet would require a surgical intervention. The abscess affects the molars and presents itself as a swelling under the eye.

However, the tooth root abscess may also be linked to mouth trauma when dogs chew hard objects and injure their mouths. In addition, the infection causes the swelling and facial deformity, which can be pretty painful.

Tooth Fractures

Tooth fractures are common among dogs that are constant chewers. They happen when the dog chews on hard objects such as hard nylon chews, bones, antlers, and pig hooves. Your pet pooch should not chew on anything that doesn’t have a bit of a give.

The size of the chew also contributes to fractured teeth. A large chew toy will make the gum and tooth flex to an angle so that one side of the tooth is split. It is called slab fracture. Tooth fractures should be treated to save the tooth. If the pulp is exposed, root canal treatments and tooth extractions are the only options.

Retained Baby Teeth

All puppies have baby teeth which then fall out, making space for adult teeth. The adult teeth come in by the age of 6 months. In some cases, the puppies retain the baby teeth leading to overcrowding. Unfortunately, there is no way to treat retained baby teeth. However, dentists can remove them under anesthesia.

What are the Signs of Dental Problems in Dogs?

The signs of dental diseases in dogs are quite underrated. These cause your pooch untold pain and discomfort. Though these symptoms can sometimes be mistaken for older dogs, pet owners can see marked changes like:

  • Bad breath
  • Discolored teeth
  • Plaque and tartar buildup
  • Bleeding gums
  • Swollen gums
  • Loss of interest in chew toys
  • Loss of appetite or difficulty eating
  • Increased drooling
  • Missing teeth
  • Fatigue
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Sneezing and nasal discharge (due to periodontitis in upper canine teeth)

Dog Breeds with Bad Teeth

Few dogs, especially the smaller ones, present a greater risk of developing periodontal diseases. However, as a pet parent, you need to be diligent with these breeds.

  • Pug face dental problems like plaque and periodontal disease as a result of the short-muzzled bone structure. They also suffer from overcrowding of teeth.
  • Chihuahua has a small mouth to host all 42 teeth. This makes them susceptible to periodontal disease.
  • Yorkies often have retained baby teeth.
  • Boxers and large breeds such as Great Danes and bulldogs suffer from gingival hyperplasia 0r thickening of gums.
  • Collie suffers from an overbite, soft tissue trauma, and tooth-on-tooth wear.
  • Dachshunds have a narrow muzzle hence making them susceptible to periodontal disease.

Why do Small Dogs have Teeth Problems?

Small breed dogs such as Chihuahuas, Pugs, and Yorkies are susceptible to dental disease. The consensus is the small heads which lead to overcrowding. There is not much space between the teeth, presenting more space for food particles to collect bacteria.

They also retain their baby teeth which again is a reason for overcrowding. In addition, other breeds such as pugs and Boston terriers have bite problems.

How do I Prevent Dental Disease in Dogs?

The most common risk factor for periodontal diseases in dogs is inadequate oral hygiene. The key to managing periodontal diseases is prevention. As long as their teeth remain clean, they will not harbor bacteria, and the gums will also stay healthy.

Dogs Do Not Show Signs of Teeth Pain

veterinarian examining dog teeth problem

Less than 5% of dogs show outward pain in their teeth as a result of periodontal disease. This is because their animal instinct doesn’t allow them to show any pain. As a result, they have evolved to hide even the chronic pain.

Even with bleeding gum and cracked teeth, your pet would prefer to wag his tail rather than show you that he is sick. He will be the happy dog you know.

Examine Your Dog’s teeth daily

You’re unlikely to diagnose serious oral problems in a dog’s mouth. However, there are things worth looking for between all these vet cleanings. Look out for broken teeth, discolored teeth, and loose teeth. Other signs to look out for include:

  • Blood on chew toys or water bowl
  • Bad breath(within 1-2 months of cleaning)
  • Swelling in or around the dog’s mouth
  • Increased resistance to brushing

Know the Signs of Dental Diseases in Dogs

Stay vigilant for broken or discolorated teeth as well as if the teeth are turned. Too often, breeders, even vets, are looking at the signs that the pet is old. Unfortunately, all these signs of mouth cavities go wrong all too often. There are plenty of things that can happen in your dog’s mouth — but most of it can go unnoticed.

Keep an Eye on Their Oral Health

Taking care of your pet’s oral health is akin to taking care of your own. Here are some simple steps you can follow to ensure optimum health,

  • Pet owners should do annual oral examinations, dental x-rays and dental cleaning every year under general anesthesia.
  • Daily tooth brushing is the key to a healthy mouth. A pet toothpaste and pet toothbrush with a little bit of patience can help keep your pet healthy and happy.
  • Give your pet safe chew toys to keep its mouth in top form. It helps slow down the progression of periodontal disease. For example, give them hard and rubber toys or thin rawhide bones.
  • Feed your pet healthy foods suitable for his dietary needs. This includes food with additives to prevent plaque and dried food to scrub their teeth.


Veterinary dentistry is always available to help your dog with his periodontal disease. However, keep in mind that it is already advanced by the time you notice any signs of periodontal disease. So, the best treatment option is prevention.

vet examines dog teeth

Daily tooth brushing is much more than clean teeth. It is the difference between a bundle of joy and a sick dog. It is also worth providing them with lots of opportunities to chew. And always feed your dog a proper diet. Finally, be sure you see your doctor during the day for regular checks. If you suspect gum damage talk to a vet first – brushing is sometimes ineffective.

If your dog is showing signs of periodontal disease, contact a vet. They will examine the nature of the disease and suggest a treatment plan.

In Tucson, Santa Cruz Pet Clinic is a world-renowned and trusted veterinarian that you desire for keeping up with your pet’s vaccinations at the proper time to ensure its health. Contact us today to schedule your pet’s vaccinations and check-ups.

Disease in Rabbits

Disease in Rabbits - Rabbit Wearing Mask

Common Diseases of Pet Rabbits.

According to a survey by American Pet Products Association, there were around 3-7 million pet rabbits in the US, just behind dogs and cats in popularity.

Rabbits make excellent pets, as can be seen with the increasing number of people adopting them. Unlike any other pets, they have distinctive personalities; quite independent and charming as cats; faithful and friendly as dogs. They are also smart and openly affectionate.

As with every pet, you need to facilitate them with appropriate accommodation, food, and exercise. Though pretty much low maintenance, rabbits can be susceptible to health problems that can turn out to be fatal unless treated at the right time.

This article takes you through the Common Diseases of Pet Rabbits.  (common, gastrointestinal, fatal, and urinary tract) and their symptoms.

Common Diseases of Pet Rabbits

Rabbits though domesticated, are generally prey and, as such, will hide any signs of infection. So, it is recommended that the pet owners maintain hygiene, proper diet and closely observe them for any diseases.

Uterine Cancer – Common Diseases of Pet Rabbits.

Uterine cancer is prevalent among female rabbits. Few breeds have 50-80% chances of developing cancer. There are no treatments available except desexing the rabbit as early as four months before cancer develops.

Symptoms include blood-stained vaginal discharge, mammary gland cysts, aggressive behavior, lethargy, to name a few.

Rabbit Calicivirus – Common Diseases of Pet Rabbits.

A common yet deadly disease is the Rabbit Calicivirus and is very difficult to treat. Upon contracting it, the symptoms progress quickly within 12-18 hours, resulting in heart and respiratory failure.

Due to its severity, vets prefer to vaccinate the rabbits against the virus at 10-12 weeks. The vaccination has two doses, with one each month and a booster dose every six months.

The signs displayed by the animal include fever, lethargy, poor appetite, bloody discharge from the nose, and restlessness.

Hairballs – Common Diseases of Pet Rabbits.

Hairballs are frequently found in rabbits so much that if your pet is lethargic and doesn’t eat, you better contact a vet. They are self-grooming animals, and during the process, they may ingest the hair, which then passes through the gut. If it doesn’t pass through fecal matter, it may form hairballs blocking the gut.

Medications to get the gut working can help to an extent, but surgery is the only option in severe cases. To prevent it from happening, your rabbit’s diet should be rich in fiber.

Snuffles – Common Diseases of Pet Rabbits.

Snuffles is another common disease seen mainly in young rabbits caused by Pasteurella Bacterium. The condition, while easy to treat, is impossible to cure. If your rabbit develops a chronic infection, it can always present with watery eyes.

Signs of the illness include sneezing, watery eyes and nose, abscesses, uterine infections, and ear infections (leading to head tilts). Snuffles is easily transmitted between rabbits, so keep new rabbits separately from the older ones.

Treatment involves antibiotics administered by a veterinarian along with eye drops and nasal drops. The litter should be changed daily, and the cage kept clean.

Parasites – Common Diseases of Pet Rabbits.

Much like your cats and dogs, rabbits are also susceptible to parasites like ticks, fleas, mange, fly strikes, and ear mites. Flystrike can be seen in the rear end, tail, belly, and back of the animal, especially during the summer months.

As for ear mites, they present as skin scales on the inner ear and, if left untreated, turn into crusted lesions. At this point, it causes balance issues and loss of hearing.

Do not self-treat your pet, as the medicines meant for other types of pets like dogs and cats can be lethal for rabbits. Leave it to the vets for diagnosis and treatment.

Overgrown Incisors – Common Diseases of Pet Rabbits.

A rabbit’s teeth grow throughout its lifetime. Chewing on fiber-rich grass hay and grinding on wood blocks will keep them at a standard length. However, sometimes they can grow too much and hurt their tongue in cheek, preventing it from eating or grooming itself.

The only treatment option is through your vets, who would grind the teeth back to regular length under anesthesia. However, you can prevent it from happening by making sure 80%-90% of the food is fiber.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease or Enteritis – Common Diseases of Pet Rabbits.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease is one of the widespread diseases among rabbits. Unfortunately, the disease itself is a sign of an underlying condition and not the cause.

The symptoms include:

  • Watery diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Reduced food intake
  • Mild dehydration

The above signs are not easily noticeable, and before long, the animal slips into a coma.

Rabbits are prey animals in the wild, hence have a heightened adrenaline production for any perceived threat. Your pet rabbits are also the same; Apart from maintaining acceptable hygiene practices and diet, you may want to follow the below stress management practices:

  • Protect the rabbit from excessive noise, heat, and cold.
  • Do not switch feeds abruptly.
  • Even an extended family visit is stressful.

Common Diseases of Pet Rabbits.  - Vet Looking at Rabbit X-RayUrinary Tract Disease in Rabbits

Rabbits differ from most mammals in the sense that their calcium absorption is unregulated. While the necessary calcium is absorbed, the excess is secreted via urine as much as 60% if fed a high calcium diet. It can also lead to urinary tract diseases identified by a loss of fur in the genital region and hindquarters.

Renal (Kidney) Disease

While acute renal disease is rare, chronic renal failure is commonly seen among rabbits, even in the young ones. Failure happens when the kidneys are unable to filter the waste and are irreversible. For mild cases, along with the medications, the vets use:

  • Low calcium diet
  • Fluid therapy
  • Nutritional support

The symptoms include: Lethargy, dehydration, loss of appetite, diarrhea, fever, increased water intake, depression, increased urination, weight loss, urine scalding, seizures, to name a few.

Hypercalciuria and Urolithiasis

Since rabbits excrete calcium via urine, a high amount of calcium can give cloudy and sludgy urine and lead to uroliths. Other causes may be musculoskeletal conditions, obesity, low water intake, neurologic disease, and poor hygiene practices.

Your vet may look into possible treatment options, including antibiotics along with flushing and suctioning the bladder via a catheter.

Lower Urinary Tract Infection

Accumulation of bacteria leads to lower urinary tract infection in rabbits. Even though bacteria cause the disease, the underlying reason may be a weakened immune system and high calcium content in the urine. The condition is predominantly seen in rabbits 3-5 years of age and obese animals.

Signs of the infection include:

  • Urinary incontinence
  • Frequent urination
  • Bloody/thick/beige or blown colored urine
  • Skin ulcer around the genital area and hind legs

The condition is not severe, and vets offer treatments including:

  • Increase in water intake
  • Weight loss
  • More exercise
  • Modified diet
  • Antibiotics

Gastrointestinal (GI) Stasis in Rabbits

Gastrointestinal (GI) stasis is a pretty serious bacterial disease that slows down, or worse, stops it completely. The malfunction can cause a buildup of harmful bacteria, which releases gas, causing bloating. Rabbits affected by GI stasis lose the motivation to drink and eat, getting starved without any nutrition or fiber.

This results in a buildup of toxins in the system, causing the liver to overwork and fails ultimately.

Symptoms of the disease include:

  • Small/No fecal pellets
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy

Treatment for the disease starts as soon as you contact the veterinarian. Depending on the condition of the animal, he may proceed with:

  • Pain medication
  • IV fluids
  • Motility drugs
  • Antibiotics

Tularemia – Symptoms and Causes

Also known as rabbit fever or deer fly fever, Tularemia is a bacterial disease that affects the rabbit’s eyes, skin, lymph nodes, and lungs. Humans can also become infected by this rare infectious bacteria when bitten by an animal.

The bacterial disease is caused by the bacteria Francisella Tularensis which mainly affects rabbits, hares, rodents, birds, sheep, dogs, cats, hamsters, and many more. Rabbits contract tularemia during winter, rabbit hunting season. The bacteria is prevalent all across the US except Hawaii.

Ticks, particularly the lone star tick, dog tick, and wood tick, transmit the bacteria F Tularensis between rabbits, other animals, and humans. They may also spread through inhalation, eyes, and nose.

Rabbits are the source of 90% of the Tularemia cases in the US, of which 70% is via cottontail rabbits. Ingesting the meat of the infected animal and drinking contaminated water can also spread bacteria among humans.

Most of these animals are long dead due to organ failure before you begin to notice them. However, here are a few symptoms that have been seen in affected rabbits:

  • High fever
  • Weakness
  • Ulcers
  • Abscesses

The diagnosis of rabbit fever is difficult since the symptoms may also be a sign of another illness too. Your vet will perform a complete panel of blood tests, including a blood chemical profile, a total blood count, and an electrolyte panel. If caught early, antibiotic treatment can help the affected animals.

Since the rabbit fever is highly contagious, you may want to contact your vet anyway to report your suspicion, even if your pet is dead.

Myxomatosis in Rabbits: Symptoms and Treatment

Myxomatosis is a viral infection in rabbits caused by the myxoma virus. It is highly contagious and has a very low to no survival rate so much that vets prefer to have the rabbit put down.

Myxomatosis virus is generally spread through ticks and insects. So, if a rabbit, wild or domestic, has it in the region, the chances are that it will spread widely.

Signs of the disease can take fourteen days to manifest in an infected animal and include fever, listlessness, skin ulcer, lack of appetite, drooping ears, swollen head and genitalia, labored breathing, etc. In case you are suspicious of any rabbit of Myxomatosis, contact your veterinarian.

Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease – The New Deadly Virus

Though not a new virus, it is spreading fast and fatally across the US and South America. It is caused by the rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus(RHDV), which is highly contagious and can survive in extreme conditions.

If any rabbit in your location, even a wild one, is affected by the virus, it can spread fast via your clothing and shoes. However, it doesn’t spread to humans or other animal species.

Australia and New Zealand purposefully introduced the RHDV along with myxoma virus and rabbit calicivirus to control the feral rabbit population in the country.

The disease primarily causes hepatitis and has two strains: RHDVa with an incubation period of 1–2 days and RHDV2 with 3–5 days.

Disease in Rabbits - Rabbit VaccinesVaccination for Rabbits

Although pet rabbits do not need any vaccination in the US, there are vaccines available for fatal diseases, namely:

  • Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease(both the strains)
  • Calicivirus
  • Myxomatosis virus


Rabbits are the most popular small animal pets in the United States. They are naturally clean animals, and by maintaining clean housing for your pet, you can avoid most diseases.

Rabbits need a balanced diet rich in fiber. They also require regular health checks from a vet to pick up the early signs of any infection and prevent diseases.

However, a regular veterinarian would not work; you need someone trained in handling exotic pets to keep your pet happy and healthy. That is where we come in. If you suspect your pet rabbit is suffering from any of the diseases mentioned above, contact Santa Cruz Pet Clinic immediately to find treatment solutions. The faster you act, the higher the odds are of your family pet surviving.

What Causes Valley Fever in Dogs? – Symptoms and Treatments

Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis) - 3D Illustration Showing Fungal Arthroconidia

Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis) is a fungal disease pretty much common among dogs in the southwestern United States. It is prevalent among dogs in the desert regions of California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. Some reports have even made their way as far north as Oregon and Washington states.

But a study by The University of Arizona Health Sciences reports that 4% of dogs are affected by Valley Fever in the state. And the dog owners spend somewhere to the tune of $60 million every year.

And if you are considering a trip or planning to move to this part of the country, you need to learn about this disease to protect your canine family members. This article walks you through everything you need to know about Valley Fever, including symptoms, treatments, side effects, and much more.

How Do Dogs Get Valley Fever?

Sometimes called “San Joaquin Valley fever” or “desert rheumatism”, Valley Fever is a respiratory illness in dogs caused by pathogenic fungi called Coccidioides immitis.

The fungus generally exists in the soil as a mold and goes into a dormant state due to the arid conditions. During the rainy season, they grow and produce long filaments that contain contagious spores. When your dog digs around, the spores are disturbed and become airborne as well. If they inhale the spores, they metamorphose into a yeast-like organism, which then infects the lungs.

Fewer than 10 spores are required to cause the disease in susceptible animals.

What Are the Symptoms?

Healthy adult dogs can ward off the infection without any minimal signs of the disease. But puppies and older dogs have a weak immune system, hence they are susceptible to Valley Fever.

The most common symptoms of Valley Fever are:

  • Fever
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Coughing
  • Signs of depression

These symptoms signal a fungal infection in the lungs. As the disease progresses, the dog may develop pneumonia, which is detected through x-rays.

Your dog may take 7-21 days to develop symptoms of Valley Fever after exposure to the spores. However, the severity of the symptoms depends on the number of fungal spores inhaled by your dog.

What Is Disseminated Valley Fever in Dogs?

When the infection spreads outside the dog’s lungs, it reaches a more severe stage. In this stage, the fungus has been disseminated and spreads to other parts of the body.

The symptoms include:

  • Lameness, swollen joints, and limbs
  • Meningitis, or inflammation of the membranes around the brain and the spinal cord
  • Swollen lymph nodes under the chin, in front of the shoulder blades, or behind the stifles
  • Skull lesions (which are quite painful)
  • Muscle aches and stiffness
  • Headaches, back or neck pain
  • Seizures and other indications of the swollen central nervous system
  • Soft lumps under the skin resembling abscesses
  • Non-healing skin wounds that ooze fluid
  • Eye inflammation with pain or cloudiness
  • Sudden heart failure in a young dog
  • Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
  • Change in mental status

How Serious Is It?

Valley Fever is deadly for dogs with a weakened immune system or underlying conditions. A small number of dogs die from the severity of the disease every year despite veterinarians’ every effort to save them.

Few may need antifungal medications for life. Then again, there is the risk of relapse or reinfections in certain other cases.

Is Valley Fever Painful in Dogs?

If the Valley Fever spreads to other parts of the body, including bones, it can then cause severe pain. For disseminated disease, the infection can spread to the bones and joints. In the event of this happening, your pet may also suffer from painful and swollen joints.

Consult your veterinarian for pain relief and cough suppressants. This will not only make him feel better but also increase his appetite. Left untreated, the dogs can lose their legs altogether. In rare cases, the infections develop on the central nervous system, which can be fatal to the animal.

Can Valley Fever Affect the Dog’s Brain?

In severe cases, Valley Fever can affect your dog’s brain. When the fungus invades the brain, it can cause seizures.

These dogs usually need treatment all through their lives. The vet will have your pet on anti-seizure medication and steroids to reduce the swelling for the time being.

What Is the Prognosis?

Generally, dogs whose infections are confined to the lungs alone have a good prognosis and respond better to treatment. However, if the infection is too severe, where it has disseminated to other parts of the body, the veterinarian will suggest hospitalization or surgery in addition to medication.

Dogs with disseminated disease may need prolonged treatment, sometimes more than a year. However, depending on the spread, few animals may be on medications for life. Another small number may die from the complications arising from underlying health conditions.

How Is the Valley Fever in Dogs Diagnosed?

The symptoms don’t correspond to Valley Fever alone but also a myriad of other conditions. Some dogs do not show any symptoms of the primary infection. The veterinarian may recommend the below tests to confirm the presence of the disease.

Titer Tests

One of the tests will include a titer test. It confirms the presence of antibodies, evidence of exposure to the fungus. Depending on the dog’s signs and symptoms, he may need the following tests:

  • Blood cell counts
  • Blood chemistry panels
  • Diagnostic x-rays (chest and infected legs)
  • Biopsy of samples (fluids and tissue)

Can It Be Cured?

Broadly Yes! This Statistics Report says that 90% of the dogs recover from the disease if caught early. In a few cases, the vets might prescribe medication for life, but others get back to everyday life just as before Valley Fever.

But, ensure that you continue the full course of medication since they can easily relapse.

How Do You Treat Valley Fever in Dogs?

In the first place, your veterinarian would do tests and x-rays to confirm the presence of the disease.

Once confirmed, he would suggest one of the below medications:

The antifungal medication works to control the pathway and also restrict the spread of the fungus.

Depending on the severity of the infections, your dog will have medications for 6-12 months. In the case of a brain infection, the antifungal medication may be for life. But you should be able to detect an improvement in your dog’s health within 1-2 weeks.

The treatment may also require:

  • Intravenous fluids
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Surgical intervention for infected eyes and heart failure

What Are the Side Effects of Fluconazole in Dogs?

Due to its easy absorption in the GI tract, fluconazole is often the choice of a veterinarian.

Valley Fever - What Are the Side Effects of Fluconazole in Dogs?

The side effects of the medication include:

Dogs with pre-existing liver and kidney issues are prone to develop a bad reaction. In these cases, the veterinarian would keep an eye on his liver enzymes via a blood test.

What Is the Follow-Up Procedure after Treatment?

The veterinarian monitors the dog’s blood panels every month as long as he is on medication. Kidney and liver blood tests help the vet understand how the animal metabolizes the drugs.

  • Liver and kidney chemistry after one month of Fluconazole.
  • Blood Chemistry after six months
  • Complete Blood Count after six months
  • Titer test every six months

However, in the case of dogs on long-term treatment plans, the frequency may reduce.

How Do You Prevent Valley Fever?

Valley Fever - US States Affected by Valley Fever
US States Affected by Valley Fever

Short of moving away from the region, there is no sure-fire way to prevent canine Valley Fever. Since it is one of the endemic areas that are fastly growing, it is impossible to avoid it.

The fungus lives 12″ deep in the ground and in spotted areas. So it is not possible to treat the soil.

The better prevention method is to:

  • Avoid activities that generate dust.
  • Get the dog out of the soil.
  • Stop them from digging.
  • Do not your dog sniff rodent holes.
  • Cover your yard with gravel or grass.

Can Valley Fever Come Back in Dogs?

Yes! Valley fever is well known to come back no matter how the initial infection was treated. If a dog does not develop an antibody to the disease, he can relapse.

If your dog relapses, all you need is to get him back on the medication to control the signs. But the treatment this time around will be longer than the initial occurrence.

Can Valley Fever Cause Blindness in Dogs?

Yes! There is a chance that Valley Fever can cause blindness in your dog.

40% of the dogs suffering from the disease will have an eye infection. If your dog’s eyes are infected, then there are chances that it can develop inflammation leading to retinal detachment and glaucoma.

In rare cases, it can also cause blindness.

Is There a Vaccine for Valley Fever?

Valley Fever is a fungal infection, and as such, there is no vaccine currently available. However, considering the spread of the disease, there are vaccines currently in production.

How Much Does It Cost to Treat Valley Fever?

Treatment for Valley Fever can last from months to even years. The medication, fluconazole, costs as much as $200 per month, not factoring in the other necessary medications or tests.

Additionally, reports from Arizona state that the prices are more likely to continue to rise as they have done in the past.

Is Valley Fever in Dogs Contagious?

No! There is no record of Valley Fever being a contagious disease. Even if more animals in the household develop an infection, it is due to the inhalation of spores.

Even coughing or open sores cannot spread the disease.

Are There Vitamins or Nutritional Supplements for Dogs with Valley Fever?

Your dog can receive a multivitamin supplement to boost his overall well-being and immunity. If your dog is on ketoconazole, he will be recommended a Vitamin C supplement to aid the absorption of the drug.

Since lack of appetite is common among dogs with Valley Fever, you might have to consult your vet about his nutritional needs. He might also prescribe an appetite stimulant to help your dog eat. But if nothing else works, a feeding tube may be the only option.

If your dog has been on medication for months at a time, he may have elevated liver enzymes. Denamarin, a blend of milk thistle and SAM-e, can bring down the levels.

However, they should be used only under the advisement of a veterinarian.

Can I Give Natural Medicine for Valley Fever in Dogs?

Yes! You can give natural medications to your pet. However, it should be under the consultation of a holistic animal care practitioner.

When treating naturally, your treatment plan would be to:

  • Boost immunity
  • Feed antifungal foods, anti-inflammatory foods, and nutraceuticals

Instead of conventional antifungal medications, your vet might prescribe:

  • Caprylic Acid
  • Olive Leaf Extract and Grapefruit Seed Extract
  • Oil of Oregano
  • Colloidal Silver

Another option is to feed your pet foods containing chitinase like banana, kiwi, peach, apricot, tomatoes, turnip, watermelon, celery, apple, squash family, etc.


Dog Wearing Blue Mask

Valley Fever or desert rheumatism is caused by a fungus common in the desert regions of Arizona and the nearby states. When your dog inhales the spores of the fungus, it causes Valley Fever.

The most common early signs of Valley Fever include cough, fever, lack of appetite, and more. In the primary stage, the disease is confined to the lungs. But later on, it can disseminate and spread to other parts of the body.

While 90% of the dogs recover quickly, few others can develop complications, including seizures, blindness, brain swelling, etc. A small percentage can die from these.

Even if you don’t live in or around the Valley Fever endemic area, should you plan to visit or vacation in one of the affected states (mentioned at the outset of this article), take precautionary measures to protect your dog’s health. Do what you can to reduce your pet’s exposure to soils and airborne dust. For example, keep your dog indoors as much as is practical and leash-walk him on paved sidewalks.

In the unfortunate event your dog is feeling unwell or starts showing some of the initial symptoms of Valley Fever (upon return from your trip), make sure to inform the vet of your recent travel history and ask whether a Valley Fever test should be administered. Early detection and intervention can help control your dog’s symptoms and even save your dog’s life. Your vet will prescribe the appropriate antifungal medication(s) along with pain relief and cough suppressants.

If you suspect your dog is suffering from Valley Fever, contact Santa Cruz Pet Clinic immediately to find treatment solutions. The faster you act, the higher the odds are of your family pet surviving. You may also enjoy reading this related article:

Valley Fever in Dogs: Everything You Need to Know

How to Treat Parvo in Dogs

Canine Parvovirus Under Microscope

Much like humans, dogs are susceptible to a wide range of different diseases and viruses. Some of them are deadly when left untreated, and sadly parvo in dogs is quite common.

So, as a conscientious pet owner, you will want to know how to spot the disease and infection in your dog early on. One of the most highly-contagious viruses dogs have to contend against is commonly known as parvo (Canine Parvovirus or CPV).

This DNA virus was first discovered in 1967 and has rapidly become a serious threat to canine health. While canine parvovirus is not airborne, it can be found on many surfaces within the environment. It is spread orally by contact with contaminated feces.

When this virus infects the bone marrow, it attacks the young immune cells, reducing the amount of protective white blood cells. This weakens the body’s immune system, the ability to protect itself, and allows the virus to more easily invade the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This is unfortunately where the worst damage happens.

While treatment options are available, the best way to ensure your dog survives the disease is by preventing it in the first place. However, life happens, and you can’t control everything your pet does every moment of the day. So if your dog already has parvo, you need to educate yourself about treating it properly and immediately.

How Does a Dog Get Parvo?

Chihuahua with Parvo

As stated earlier, dogs contract the parvovirus through the mouth. There are places where dogs have a higher chance of contracting the disease compared to others.

Some of those places include:

  • Apartment Complexes
  • Municipal Parks
  • Dog Parks
  • And More…

Look at this article by Advanced Animal Care to find out more about familiar places dogs can contract parvo.

When it comes to treating the virus, there are several options.

Oral medications and IV fluids are two of the primary treatments for parvo. In some instances, tube feeding and injectable medicines are used to treat the virus.

An interesting thing to note is that certain dog breeds are at increased risk of contracting parvo.

Here are some dog breeds with a high susceptibility to parvo:

  • German Shepards
  • American Staffordshire
  • English Spaniels
  • Doberman Pinschers

You can check out this article by AKC to learn more about particular dog breeds with higher odds of catching parvo.

Curative Treatments for Parvo in Dogs

Parvo does not have a cure at the moment. Veterinarians can only provide intermittent treatment for parvo. Since it’s a virus, your dog may catch it again after getting through its first infection.

With an aggressive treatment approach, the great news is that the survival rate of parvo can reach 91%. To get the best outcome after your dog catches parvo, you need to contact a reliable veterinarian clinic.

Santa Cruz Pet Clinic offers reliable and effective parvo treatment services. Backed by years of experience.

You should always take your pet to a reputable clinic like Santa Cruz Pet Clinic when you notice your dog displaying the signs of parvo.

Parvo has many signs and symptoms. Common symptoms of parvo include:

  • Fever
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting

FAQ: Parvo in Dogs

Parvo in Dogs FAQs

How Does a Dog Get Parvo?

Parvo enters the canine system via the mouth. This can occur when your dog eats off the floor or cleans itself. It’s commonly spread from dog to dog.

How Do You Treat Parvo in Dogs?

There are several treatments for parvo in dogs. The most common ones include controlling your dog’s nausea, keeping them hydrated, and reducing bacterial infections when possible.

Can a Dog with Parvo Survive?

According to reputable veterinarians who have treated the condition, the survival rate of parvo in dogs is 68% – 92%. While your dog can survive, you must catch the disease early in its progression.

Contact Santa Cruz Vet

If you suspect your pet is suffering from parvo, contact Santa Cruz Vet immediately to find treatment solutions. The faster you act, the higher the odds are of your dog surviving. Protect your dog’s safety and health by using all of the tips we’ve included in this article. You may also enjoy reading this related article:

Everything You Need to Know About Parvo in Dogs

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