Specific Medical Concerns in Southern Arizona

Valley Fever: Valley Fever or Coccidioidomycosis is an extremely common fungal disease to Arizona. Valley Fever is primarily in the southwest and develops from a soil-dwelling spore. Wind, construction sites, storms, etc. aerosolize the spores and they are in the air we breathe, so just by living in Arizona your pet is exposed to Valley Fever. Valley Fever is most frequently seen in dogs but it is possible for cats to become infected as well. Generally, the symptoms will include coughing and/or lameness. However, Valley Fever has a multitude of other symptoms. If your pet is generally feeling off and has non-specific symptoms your veterinarian may recommend a Valley Fever test.

Heat Stress/Stroke: Heat is the number one most deadly concern in Arizona. With temperatures in the summer reaching 120°F, it is extremely important that your pet be allowed access to water and shade or indoors at all times. NEVER LEAVE YOUR PET IN THE CAR! Your car can reach temperatures of about 200°F, and your pet may not survive.

Hot Pavement: With high temperatures in the summer, the sidewalks and streets absorb the heat, creating a hot, burning walking environment. The pads on your pet’s paws will be burned if they are exposed to the hot pavements for an extended period of time. Choose to walk your pet in cooler times of the day, early mornings, late evenings, or at night. If you have to walk during the day, limit the time to 15 minutes or less. Purchasing booties can be another protective option for your pet’s paws. In the winter the heat is not as much of a concern as it is in the summer, nevertheless caution is still required.

Heartworm and Parasite Prevention: We recommend that your dog be kept on heartworm and parasite prevention year round. Heartworms are only transmitted through mosquito bites. The University of Arizona has conducted extensive studies of the surrounding areas, which have determined that the majority of the mosquitoes in the Green Valley and Sahuarita area have heartworms. Even if your pet never goes outside, mosquitoes are able to get anywhere. It is much easier and safer to prevent heartworm disease then it is to treat an infected pet. Yearly heartworm tests are recommended to insure the medication is doing its job. With the increase in popularity of dog parks and daycare, parasite control has become a real concern. These outlets provide a fun alternative for your pet to expend some of their excess energy. However, sharing of water bowls, the exposure to unknown animals, and a variety of other reasons causes some concerns for possible parasite transmission to your pet. Fortunately there are several products that provide an “all in one” monthly parasite prevention. Numerous methods are available for parasite protection in your pet. Our preferred prevention is a product called Interceptor or an alternative product called Heartgard. Interceptor and Heartgard are safe and effective flavored chewable tablets, given once a month to your pet. They not only protect against heartworms but also act as a monthly dewormer, effectively protecting your pet against most parasites.

Tick Fever: Tick Fever or Ehrlichiosis is an infectious disease of dogs. It is transmitted through ticks. Even if you have never noticed any ticks on your dog the potential exists for Tick Fever. There are a variety of symptoms, most common being lethargy and a decrease in appetite but can also include joint pain, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. If a routine CBC (or complete blood count) reveals any abnormalities your veterinarian may recommend a Tick Fever test because Tick Fever can present with abnormalities such as low plateletes. Ridding your dog’s environment of ticks is the most effective means of prevention. We also sell a variety of monthly tick preventatives. There is no such thing as a tick season in Arizona, so keeping your pet on a preventative year round is your best protection. If you have any concerns, please schedule an appointment as soon as possible to discuss any questions that you may have.

Skin and Coat: Arizona tends to have a much drier environment than the majority of other states. This has a negative impact on your dog or cat’s coat. Proper nutrition is essential to maintaining a healthy coat and moisturized skin for your pet. We recommend a high quality or premium food In addition to the proper diet, we recommend a fatty acid supplement, which comes in the form of fish oils. This will help maintain a healthy coat as well as helping to prevent your pet from scratching at dry skin. Good quality fish oil is important and most human fish oil capsules come in forms not suited for your small pets