I can completely sympathize with families who have pets with valley fever. My dog, Magic, has recently been diagnosed with valley fever and from first hand experience….it’s AWFUL! My heart breaks and goes out to anyone who has had experience with valley fever or is now experiencing it. I have several goals behind this article:
- Explain signs and symptoms so you can be proactive in testing for valley fever
- To offer some suggestions on how to keep your pet eating
- To let you know that you aren’t alone
The most common signs of Valley Fever are:
- Weight Loss
- Lack of Appetite
- Lack of Energy
The best website I have found that explains Valley Fever in dogs (and cats) is the Valley Fever Center for Excellence website. “Two-thirds of all U.S. Valley Fever infections are contracted in Arizona. Nationally, Valley Fever is uncommon and considered an orphan disease. Yet it is so concentrated in Arizona that this state needed an advocate to promote improvements in understanding, medical care, and research about this disease. For this reason the Arizona Board of Regents approved the proposal for the creation of the Valley Fever Center for Excellence at the University of Arizona.” This website is great for understanding Valley Fever, where it comes from, the signs and symptoms and treatment. However, it does not discuss what pet parents can/should do if their pet is refusing to eat. The BIGGEST and HARDEST setback I have had to overcome with my own case.
You KNOW when you have a Golden Retriever that if they stop eating, something is definitely wrong. My scrounge hound hasn’t eaten a good solid meal in weeks. This does not help the healing process and if he doesn’t start eating something he may need to be hospitalized, or worse, have a feeding tube surgically implanted. It breaks my heart every day when he turns his nose up at his meals. I’m feeding him people food for heavens sake! A dog’s wet dream! People food being shoved down his throat and he still isn’t interested. SO FRUSTRATING!
This is what our daily routine looks like:
Mom buys canned food to mix in with his kibble. Yeah! He loves it! We’re good to go for a couple meals….then, he doesn’t want to have anything to do with it. Now what?
Mom finds something in the fridge that may seem palatable. Boiled chicken and rice…let’s try that. Yeah! He scarfs that down…for 2-3 meals then he’s done. He wants no more of it. Now what?
What about ground beef? He takes a lick or two…nope. Not for him.
Let’s take a trip to the local pet store and see what we can find. Oooh…a cooler full of fresh, natural food. Let’s buy a tube and see what he thinks. YES! He loves it! Scarfed down almost a full portion size…YAY! Hoping he likes it at dinner time. Yep! We are good to go…for one more meal, then he’s done with it…wants nothing to do with it. Now what?
Baby food? Maybe we’ll give that a try today.
My suggestions (and I’m not a veterinarian and suggest discussing options with your vet):
- Try different foods that are aromatic
- Stop thinking if you switch their food often they will become picky eaters. Remember, they are sick and really don’t want to eat, but they HAVE to eat to keep their immune system and energy levels up.
- Try feeding at different times of the day. Magic wouldn’t touch his food this morning, but devoured the same food this afternoon.
- Go raw. People food is fine to feed your dog as long as you don’t add any toxic foods or spices to it.
It can be very frustrating and heart breaking when you know your dog is sick and they refuse to eat or is suffering some other horrible side affect of Fluconazole. Remember that you aren’t alone. Lots of other people are going through what you are going through. Sometimes it helps just to talk to someone that has experienced valley fever with their pets and have the reassurance that your dog will get better. If you need some moral support, suggestions on types of food to try or would like more information on valley fever in your area give me a call. I certainly know what you are going through!