Friday, March 18, 2016

The Recovery Stage for Bailey

 Glad to report that Bailey is better.  It will be months if not years of recovery from the Valley Fever, but now we are past the worse of it and he is on the right path.  He has added 4 pounds this week and his temperature in normal. 
 I'm very happy that science has produced the anti-fungals and the anti-inflammatory drugs that helped make this recovery go well.  He still has a cough and for now Chloe is faster than her "big brother."  According to a friend who nursed 6 dogs through Valley Fever it will always affect him a bit.
But life is good up in the hills where all three of us love to explore, run and play.

 Spring has sprung after a week of rain that ended early this week.  The poppies are starting to pop up along the trails in Briones Regional Park.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Valley Fever - Physical and Emotional Roller Coaster

The whole of this week has revolved around the health of our 7-year-old male Vizsla, Bailey.

I have placed a whiteboard in the kitchen and track his daily weight, his medication schedule and his temperature morning and night.
 This has been a week of highs and lows for both Bailey, my wife, and me.  Chloe even feels the strain.
With the reduction of Bailey's fever on Wednesday we took a nice three-mile hike.  His temperature had been down and he seemed good.  By that night his temperature was above 103.5 and he could not put weight on his left leg.  He looked bad.

I called the veterinarian hospital first thing Thursday and asked what anti-inflammatory we could give him to reduce the pain in the leg.  By noon they called back and had a prescription of Carprofen for the boy.  We got home, gave him some and by evening his temperature had dropped from 103.8 to 101.2 and he was no longer limping.
To get the weight back on, I made up a 15 pound loaf of Satin Balls and rolled out 116 meat balls about 2 ounces each.  He is eating now about 8 (or one pound worth) a day on top of anything else he'll eat. How to make them on the below link:

Today was good.  Tomorrow we don't know where this Valley Fever adventure will lead.  He is short of breath and coughing a lot today.  One day at a time.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

First Hike with Bailey in 13 days

With Bailey's temperature down to 102.5 today and looking better, I felt it was time to see how he would do on a longer walk.  Since he was released from the veterinarian hospital a week ago we have done nothing more than walks around a few blocks or to the park.
Very skinny Bailey
So this morning the dogs and I headed out to the Carquinez Straits Scenic Pathway and let Bailey stretch his legs.  He did not do much running, but did walk the first half of the trail with no apparent discomfort.

Even though Bailey felt only like walking Chloe was enjoying running free!
But it wasn't until we got to the little pond that Bailey lit up and at the sight of the ducks swimming did he forget his troubles and went into hunting dog Nirvana.

Both Bailey and Chloe got a good swim in and Bailey ran for the first time in weeks.  The Valley Fever has affected his left rear leg also besides his lungs.

Bailey looked happy and for a short while healthy.  On the walk back though that left rear leg was giving him trouble, he was shivering from the swim.
Once home he had a hearty breakfast of kibble, chicken, steak, and cheese.  He is now sound asleep in his sleeping bag dreaming of ducks on the pond.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Valley Fever - Bailey is improving

Now that we know for certain Bailey has Valley Fever we are on a program to wellness with the boy.

It is now been 10 days since we first went to our family vet about what we thought was a bowel restriction and 7 since we suspected Valley Fever and just 3 since we've known for certain.

Last night the boy's fever broke and is about 101, which is normal.  My guess it will spike again, but remain lower than the original 104.

  He added a little weight also.  I modified a floor scale we had to be able to get daily weights of the boy.  Today he is 53 pounds which is 2 pounds more than just yesterday but before his first bowel movement so will drop a bit.

He has been enjoying the roasts that we have been making in the crock pot.  We use the juices and fats to put on the bison kibble also.  He is eating, taking his medications and doing a ton of sleeping.

I am glad I have been home during this "adventure" and not having to go to a job.  Over the last 8 years this dog has given me 100% of himself to whatever adventure the 2 of us have done together.  When I had shingles a few years back he lay on the bed not leaving unless to eat or go out to the bathroom.  For 3 days he stayed with me.
 It is only right that I return the commitment to his health.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Prevention - Not getting Valley Fever

If your dog does come down with symptoms of Valley Fever, your vet may not know this is a possible diagnosis. 

Bailey is still getting thinner but his fever is dropping.
A dog's lungs full of the Valley Fever spores


Unfortunately, there is not a vaccine to prevent this disease. Reassuringly it is important to recognize that many dogs will never become ill from the fungus. The best pet owners can do is to be aware of symptoms and respond quickly to signs of the disease in their dog. 
As the fungus is found in outdoor areas, obviously dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors are more likely to inhale the spores than dogs that spend a lot of time indoors. Things you can do to reduce the likelihood of your dog's exposure to the fungus are:
  • avoid activities that generate dust
  • reduce digging behavior by dogs
  • prevent sniffing in rodent holes
  • keep dogs indoors more than outdoors
  • be aware of areas that have outbreaks 

coccidioides with endospores Environments and weather conditions that tend disseminate the fungus are:
  • Hiking/ hunting areas such as in the native desert environment
  • Dust storms
  • New construction developments
  • Recent pool digs or landscaping
  • Wet weather followed by hot weather
Treating the soil will not work as the fungus lives in spotty areas and can live up to 12 inches deep in the ground. However, yard ground cover such as grass or deep gravel that reduces dust is helpful. 
Unfortunately, with weather patters in the southwestern United States changing to include hotter temperatures and more intense dust storms, Valley Fever will continue to grow in presence.

For those who want to REALLY learn more, here is a excelllent 40 page report from the University of Arizona.

"It’s important to note that infection resulting from respiratory exposure to an infected patient has never been reported, and patients with Valley Fever need not be isolated from others. "

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Valley Fever- At the Hospital part 2

Part 2 of a series on Bailey and Our Path to Recovery.

Sage Veterinary Hospitals are located in Dublin, Campbell, San Mateo, and Concord, CA.  Three days ago I placed Bailey in the car and headed to the Concord Sage Emergency.  This is a new and modern facility on Monument Blvd.  We checked into the emergency and within just a few minutes were taken into an examination room.  The emergency doctor came in and checked Bailey over and we talked.  Bailey's fever was still over 103.  I told the doctor the symptoms of lethargy, not eating, coughing, and shortness of breath.  In our conversation the topic of RV trips came up.  I told her we had been in Arizona the month prior.

We checked Bailey into the hospital where x-rays, blood work, and other tests were going to be performed.  He was sick; that was obvious, but what was it? The ER doctor was uncertain.

While in the ER I sent  e-mail to my wife. "We are hospitalizing the boy. X-rays, ultrasound and lab work. Could be something from the desert."

She e-mailed me back, "Oh God yes; there are strange things that go on out there in the desert disease-wise."  By the time I got home, she had left a printed article on Valley Fever on my desk.

I left the clinic and a few hours later the ER doctor called.  Bailey's lymph nodes were enlarged, he had white speckles in his lungs, his white blood cell counts were high, but she did not know what it was and was going to turn the information and Bailey's care over to their staff internal specialist and have others look at the x-rays.

The next morning, Dr. Kris Bruskiewicz gave me a call.  They highly suspected Valley Fever and sent out samples to U.C. Davis -- fungal titers for evaluation -- but did not want to wait to start treatment.  She said we needed to get Bailey on fluconazole, an antifungal, ASAP.  They did not carry that in the clinic because so few cases of Valley Fever show up in the Bay Area.  She sent the prescription over to Costco and my wife and I went and got that and then went and picked Bailey up and brought him home and started treatment.

I am glad we have pet insurance.  This is not going to be inexpensive to treat.  We will see how PetPlan is to work with during this recovery.  The emergency room and overnight stay and tests was over $2,500.  Fluconazole in 200mg is more expensive than it used to be as only one company in the world makes it.  $39.84 for 14 pills and will require 2 pills a day for months, if not years. 

Bailey is resting now next to me in his sleeping bag.  Poor guy.
Do not know where this adventure will lead us, but he is a big part of our family and we will do what we can to get him healthy and back on the trails where he loves to run. 

Valley Fever explained by a Vet

Written by Dr. Kim Smyth
Staff Veterinarian and Pet Health Writer for PetPlan

Coccidioidomycosis is a fungal disease that affects humans, dogs, and sometimes cats.  Also known as San Joaquin Valley Fever, coccidioidomycosis is caused by the inhalation of fungal spores. 
digging in the desert around Quartzsite, Arizonia

The fungi Coccidioides immitis and Coccidioides posadasii live in the soil and are native to areas that are hot and dry, like the southwestern United States and Mexico.  Southern California, Arizona, and southwest Texas are the areas where the organisms are most prevalent, although they can also be found in New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada.
Dry and windy conditions contribute to the spread of the fungal organisms, and therefore cause an uptick in disease.  Anything that disturbs the soil can rustle up these invaders, so dust storms, heavy rains, and earthquakes will do the trick, too.  Late fall and winter seems to be the season of coccidioidomycosis, as the weather patterns are prime for the spread of the fungal organisms.

Clinical disease occurs when the fungal spores are inhaled, with the exception of the cases where skin disease occurs from contamination of an open wound.  Primary disease occurs in the lungs, and then the yeast form of the organism can spread to the local lymph nodes and other organs.  This disease does not discriminate--it can set up shop in most any organ, including the eyes, skin, heart, brain, spinal cord, spleen, liver, kidneys, testicles, and bones.  If your dog has got it, coccidioidomycosis can likely affect it.

The incubation period is about one to three weeks from exposure, but the organism can remain dormant for 3 years or more!  That’s why it’s important to include the history travel to these regions if your pet shows appropriate clinical signs, even if the trip was years ago.

Signs + Symptoms
Clinical signs include fever, decreased appetite, weight loss, lethargy and weakness.  More specific signs will occur based on where the organism settles in the body.  Bone pain will cause lameness, while disease in the eye can lead to uveitis and blindness.  Seizures can occur when the central nervous system is affected, and organ failure can occur if the heart, liver, or kidneys are where the fungus calls home.

Determining whether your pet is suffering from coccidioidomycosis will start with considering the clinical signs and history of travel to affected regions.  Of course, if you live in one of these regions, coccidioidomycosis is already on your vet’s radar.  Your vet can take a small sample from lymph nodes to look for the fungal organism, and similarly, draining tracts may yield the fungus, too.  If those methods prove unrewarding, blood tests can track down the disease, too.

Fortunately, putting affected pets on an oral anti-fungal medication for an extended period of time usually does the trick. Generally, pets are treated for at least three months (or two months past the resolution of clinical signs).  The prognosis is good for pets who have contracted coccidioidomycosis; 90% of pets with local disease will respond to treatment and 60% of pets with disseminated disease will respond, though recurrence can happen at any time.

For pets who live in endemic areas, staying indoors can help prevent the disease.  Studies have shown that outdoor pets are almost five times as likely to contract coccidioidomycosis, as are pets that are allowed to roam on an acre or more of land.  Pets who are leash-walked on sidewalks had a decreased risk.  This isn’t to say that you should keep your dog in a bubble, but maybe in the late fall and early winter, you should consider reigning them in just a bit.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Valley Fever and the Adventure of Recovery - Part 1

Quartzsite, Arizona, from January 17, 2016, until February 2, 2016, was where Bailey, Chloe, and I dry camped in our trusty motor home.
  We had a wonderful time and did much hiking the local area.  Both dogs loved running in the dry riverbed with so many quail, rabbits, and ground squirrels to chase they were in dog's heaven.  But lying in the dirt was a small hidden hell quietly in wait to be activated by digging dogs or blowing wind: the spores that cause Valley Fever.
My wife and I joined the dogs last week for a 5-day RV trip through northeastern California.  Bailey was not feeling well even before we left but I didn't think much of it.  He had a cough and wasn't his normal happy self, but he had thrown up a big wad of spring grass a few days before and I thought he had just irritated his system.
During the trip he got weaker and more lethargic.  His breathing became labored and his cough became more persistent.  We let him rest a lot and upon our return I called our local veterinarian hospital we always go to and scheduled an appointment later that day.  They asked if I could come in at the end of the day because of the cough Bailey had.  They didn't want to contaminate the area if it was something like kennel cough.
Our local vet, who has known Bailey since a pup, found Bailey had a temperature of 104 degrees F
but he wasn't coughing.  I told the vet that Bailey hadn't been eating.  I told him how weak Bailey was and lethargic and about the grass he had thrown up.  He listened to his heart and lungs and found all ok.  He gave Bailey a couple shots of antibiotics thinking he had a sore throat from the grass maybe and sent us home with a bottle of antibiotic pills to take twice a day.
Bailey was down to 51 pounds, 8 pounds lighter than last fall (as shown in the above picture that he's thin).

Wednesday, on a short 3-mile hike, Bailey was having a hard time just walking.  His left rear leg was giving him trouble and he was coughing.  When we got home I called our vet.  He wasn't there but one of the technicians suggested we go to Sage Emergency Vet Hospital in Concord where they had x-ray machines.  So I loaded Bailey into the car and we went to go see what was up with the boy, not knowing what we were dealing with.