These days, all we want to do is to be able to protect our pups, but as a new unidentified respiratory illness emerges from the woodworks, vets and parents everywhere are scrambling to find out just what’s going on. Dogs are getting sick and doctors are having trouble finding the root cause of it, but there is one thing we do know: it’s contagious.
So what exactly do we know about this illness? What are the symptoms to look out for? Does it even have a name? What precautions should dog owners take in order to keep their pooches safe?
For one, this illness has been cropping up in New Hampshire, Oregon, and Colorado, with some parents of dogs even reporting symptoms in Washington. This illness seems to cause lasting respiratory disease and pneumonia within dogs. Worst of all, it doesn’t seem to respond to any antibiotics, meaning dog owners are going to have to be extra careful when introducing their pets to other dogs. It also seems to only affect dogs as of now, meaning that humans and other pets, such as cats, birds, reptiles, and rodents, are thankfully safe.
The symptoms of this illness include sneezing, coughing, eye/nasal discharge, and lethargy. These are the common symptoms, though because this is still an illness under investigation, not everything is concrete. Many cases of pneumonia can advance at a rapid pace, so dogs may become sick within a 24 to 36 hour period.
Since mid-August, the Oregon Department of Agriculture has documented more than 200 individual cases of this illness. There is no current way to define the disease or even test for it. And yes, dogs have died from this respiratory disease. Veterinarians have been sharing their findings, research, and diagnoses on this illness, but as of now, they haven’t even put a name to it.
While this disease has surged very recently, it’s been known about for a bit longer than that. For example, David Needle, senior veterinary pathologist at the University of New Hampshire, had been looking into this illness for close to a year now, and everyone is still stumped by the nature of this illness.
So, what precautions can you take? Well, for one, if you see that your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms, it’s important that you contact your vet to get them checked out. Even if you aren’t in any of the states mentioned, it can still happen to your dog, and you don’t want to be the subject of an article called “first case of dog respiratory illness reported in a new state”.
Remember, though, that there is no current way to properly pin down or even test for the disease, so the best your vet can do is to help you mitigate any damage and give you advice on what to do. If your dog happens to catch it, hopefully we’ll have put a name to it and properly identified it by then.
Next, make sure your dogs are all updated on their shots. If they aren’t, they need to be, because many of these shots protect against respiratory illnesses, which may protect your dog in the case of this disease.
Just as well, you need to be careful when bringing your dog to the park. You can still let your dogs play with neighbor dogs or any others they see quite often, but you need to be careful when around strangers and their pets. You need to limit their contact with other dogs, so if you tend to let your dog run free at the dog park, you may be putting them in danger.
Veterinary pathologists all around the country are working hard to figure out the root of this illness. It won’t be long until we have more information, but until then, keep your pets close while you’re taking them out for a walk.