Mystery Dog Illness Hits Several US States

Veterinarians around the country are warning dog owners to be on the lookout for a new respiratory disease that does not respond to antibiotics.

The illness starts as a cough and gradually worsens. Symptoms of the respiratory illness include coughing, sneezing, nasal or eye discharge, and lethargy. Some cases of pneumonia progress quickly, making dogs sick within 24 to 36 hours.

Veterinarian Dr. Mike Hutchinson reported that no one knows what this illness is. He encourages owners to seek immediate care if their dogs display any symptoms.

Veterinarian and CEO of North Springs Veterinary Referral Center Lindsey Ganzer has treated 35 dogs since October 20 in the emergency clinic located in Colorado Springs.

“We need to be treating sooner rather than later. It’s really important,” said Ganzer. “I’ve had cases where it’ll be two housemate dogs, and one of them will show signs, but I’ve gone ahead and started both on antibiotics. A couple days later, the other one will start to cough but is doing better than the first one.”

She also noted that four of the 35 dogs had died, while none of the remaining have recovered.

Officials report that dogs are most likely to contract the illness by coming into contact with other dogs, with places such as dog parks, kennels, and groomers posing a greater risk.

“I would strongly recommend that people avoid boarding facilities, doggy daycare, anything that’s going to be a high volume of dogs in a space,” said Ganzer. “I know it’s going to be hard with the holidays coming up, but trying to find somebody that will come to your house and take care of your dog is a better option.”

The Oregon Department of Agriculture has documented more than 200 cases of the disease since mid-August and is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory to determine the cause of the illnesses.

Experts recommend that owners ensure that their dogs are up to date on all of their vaccines, including canine influenza, Bordetella, and parainfluenza.

So far, the illness is confirmed in 10 states: Oregon, Colorado, Indiana, Florida, New Hampshire, California, Illinois, Washington, Idaho, and Georgia.