Jacquie Green plays with her dogs Maggy, top, and Jack at her Tucson home. Maggy has been stricken with valley fever for more than a year, and is part of a study on valley fever in dogs conducted by Tucson veterinarian Dr. Lisa Shubitz.

Ron Medvescek / Arizona Daily Star

Maggy, a 2½-year-old Irish wolfhound, has struggled with valley fever for more than a year.

At one point, her weight dropped from 135 pounds to 109 within a month.

She wasn’t responding well to fluconazole, and Jacquie Green wondered if her pet would live.

“She got lethargic, and the weight dropped off so fast,” Green said. “And she just wouldn’t move.”

Green, who moved to Tucson from New York three years ago, says she feels fortunate that she had the means to pay for Maggy’s treatment, which so far has amounted to $4,900, she said.

Maggy started on the antifungal drug itraconazole, but that didn’t agree with her.

She then went on another antifungal, fluconazole, which she still takes at a dose of 500 milligrams per day.

Normally, a dog her size would take more, but she doesn’t tolerate the drug well, and has suffered side effects, including hair loss.

“We did some homeopathic stuff, building up her immune system,” Green said. “She got up to 132 pounds, and then crashed again.”

Maggy is up to 147 pounds now and is doing well, but she may have to stay on fluconazole for the rest of her life, and there’s no guarantee the valley fever won’t return.

“Most dogs don’t have to die of valley fever anymore, but they cost their owners a ton of money, and it is usually out of pocket,” said Dr. Lisa Shubitz, the specialty veterinarian who treated Maggy.

“There is a euthanasia factor — they can’t afford to treat the dog, so they put the dog to sleep. A vaccine would save lives and reduce the cost of caring for dogs in this state.”