Valley Fever (Coccidioidomycosis)

Valley Fever (VF) is caused by a fungus found in the soil in the United States desert southwest region. Pets (even indoor pets) acquire VF by inhaling the spores (digging, dust storms, nearby construction, or just snuffling the ground). The early, Pulmonary, stage of VF causes a cough, intermittent fever, and poor appetite. In the later, Disseminated, stage, the infection spreads to other areas of the body such as the bones, joints, skin, brain, liver and kidneys. There may be lameness or swelling of the joints, weight loss, skin nodules, pain, chronic cough or seizures, blood tests, x-rays or other lab tests are used to diagnose VF. Treatment should begin immediately to give your pet the best chance of recovery. As yet, there is no prevention for VF other than limiting your pet’s exposure to dust and keeping him as healthy as possible so he has the best chance of fighting the disease.

Rattlesnake Bite

Each year, hundreds of dogs and cats living in the Tucson area are bitten by rattlesnakes. Most victims that are treated at a veterinary hospital survive the bite, but some suffer permanent tissue damage and even die.

Protect Your Pet

  • Keep your pet on a leash and stay on the paths when walking in the desert
  • Keep your yard clean of debris under which snakes can hide
  • Slowly walk away from any snake you see or hear
  • Rattlesnake vaccine for dogs, available here at Cimarron, can reduce the severity of damage done by the rattlesnake venom while you get your dog to the veterinarian. Your dog’s first rattlesnake vaccine needs to be boosted 4 weeks later, then should be given every 6 months (due to our nearly all-year-long snake “season” ) . We recommend vaccinating around March,  before rattlesnakes become active after their long winter slumber—when venom sacs are fullest, making bites even more serious!

Contact us to get your dog Rattlesnake vaccinated!


There are no First Aid treatments for Rattlesnake Bite. Call us or your nearest veterinary hospital to be sure there is a Doctor and antivenin available. Keep your pet quiet. Go to the vet immediately. Every hour you delay puts your pet’s life in jeopardy and increases the damage being done!

Other Poisonous Animals of the Desert

Gila Monsters will bite pets in self defense. They have a tenacious bite, grinding their jaws together while secreting venom into the wound. The venom, crushing action, and infection cause significant tissue damage at the site of the wound.

Centipedes and Scorpions will sting when disturbed, but usual cause only variably painful swelling, redness and perhaps minor tissue damage at the site.

Bees, Wasps and Ants can deliver not only a painful sting, but can cause allergic reactions such as swelling of muzzle/ face/ ears or welts over the whole body. If your pet develops  allergic signs, he should be seen by a veterinarian right away.


Our dry desert heat can cause heat exhaustion and dehydration in our pets. Be sure to take water for your pet when you travel and hike. Outside pets must have shade throughout the day—remember, what was shady in the morning may not be in the afternoon! Ensure that outdoor pets have cool, clean water, in a stable container that can’t be tipped over. Consider installing a misting system for outdoor pets. Brachycephalic, or short-nosed, breeds are especially prone to heat exhaustion. Don’t leave these dogs outside for more than a few minutes during the hottest part of the year!

And, Never, Ever, leave a pet in the car, during any part of the year! It’s dangerous to the pet and against the law!

Arizona River Toads

These toads come out of their deep underground burrows during the summer rains and monsoon season. You can hear their characteristic barking croaks at night. They have easy to see uniformly arranged small red bumps on their backs. These are the poison glands. If your pet licks or “mouths” a toad, the toxin from the skin glands will cause heavy, slimy salivation. Most pets will paw at their faces. If not treated immediately, the toxin can cause seizures, hyperthermia and death. Call us right away for immediate first aid advice!