What Dog Owners Should Know About The Mysterious Canine Respiratory Disease

p>In recent weeks, you may have noticed news stories reporting a mysterious illness that has been affecting our canine companions. While there’s no need to panic, this is definitely something dog owners should be aware of. In this article, a local Easley, SC veterinarian provides some information on the issue.

The Mystery Dog Illness: Just What Is It?

Well, we don’t know, exactly. There’s also no official confirmation yet as to whether this is a new disease or a newly mutated strain of something familiar. It’s also possible, although unlikely, that the outbreaks might not be caused by the same thing.

Having said that, here is what we do know:

As the name implies, the illness is a respiratory disease. It’s quite similar to kennel cough, which is an umbrella term often used to describe several respiratory illnesses in dogs. However, in contrast to kennel cough, the mystery illness doesn’t respond to standard treatments. (Kennel cough usually clears up with proper treatment.)

The big concern is the severity of the disease. Infected dogs often become very ill very quickly. Although many pups recover after proper treatment, others have deteriorated. A few of the pups went on to develop long-term cases or secondary infections. Some needed surgery to remove infected tissue, while others had to be put on ventilators. Unfortunately, not all of the infected pets made it. This is also very alarming, as many were in good health prior to getting ill.

How Is The Mystery Canine Respiratory Illness Diagnosed?

Things get a bit tricky here, since there’s no definitive test yet. However, many infected dogs tested negative for more common respiratory illnesses. Another indicator is the stubbornness of the symptoms. Generally, a doggy cough lasts about a week or two. This one is much more stubborn, and may last longer.

The Mysterious Dog Illness: What Are The Signs?

The mystery illness is characterized by coughing, fatigue, weakness, reduced appetite, and nasal discharge.

The biggest symptom is coughing, which may start mildly, then accelerate. The cough may also persist for weeks and/or worsen into pneumonia.

Your four-legged buddy may seem extremely tired, and may prefer to spend his time snoozing in his doggy bed rather than playing Fetch or cuddling. Rapid, labored breathing is another red flag. Discharge from the eyes or nose, fever, wheezing, loss of appetite, weight loss, and dehydration are all warning signs.

It should be noted that several other respiratory illnesses, such as Bordetella and canine parainfluenza, display similar symptoms. Actually, these respiratory problems are often referred to as ‘kennel cough’, which encompasses both viral and bacterial infections.

Contact your Easley, SC vet immediately if you notice any of these symptoms in your pet.

What Is Causing The Mystery Canine Respiratory Illness?

In a recent announcement, researchers from the University of New Hampshire’s Veterinary Diagnosis Laboratory and Hubbard Center for Genome Studies stated that they have identified a pathogen as the potential cause of this illness. A genetic sample of 70 dogs was used to gather this information. About 30 of those pups were from New Hampshire and were infected last year. The others were dogs from Massachusetts and Rhode Island who got sick this year.

There is no official name for the pathogen, but it has been described as a “funky bacterium” and seems to be adept at evading and defeating Fido’s natural defenses.

It’s also worth noting that more research needs to be conducted to determine if it can survive outside a host for very long, though it doesn’t seem to.

Where Are The Mysterious Dog Respiratory Illness Outbreaks?

Outbreaks—or suspected outbreaks—have been reported In several states. Officially, the list includes California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. The number of cases in Oregon alone has exceeded 200 since the beginning of August. However, there are likely to be other pockets of infection throughout the country as well.

Do People Catch The Mysterious Dog Respiratory Disease?

According to research conducted by the American Veterinary Medical Association and other organizations, the risk of human infection is extremely low. In addition, no other animals appear to be affected.

You should still wash your hands thoroughly after petting or handling Fido. This can help reduce the spread of germs.

What Are the Best Ways to Protect My Dog From The Mystery Illness?

Although a vaccine has not yet been developed, there are steps you can take to lessen Fido’s risk of contracting the respiratory disease.

First things first. Make sure your pet is fully vaccinated against key diseases. In spite of Bordetella being considered a non-core vaccine, it’s recommended for pups who will be in contact with other dogs, such as at daycare, boarding kennels, groomers, dog parks, or even playdates. Contact your vet for more information.

If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian right away. The sooner the condition is diagnosed and treated, the better.

Some pups are at greater risk than others. Dogs with compromised immune systems and/or respiratory issues are most at risk. Puppies and brachys, such as pugs and bulldogs, are also at risk.

How Serious Is The Mystery Dog Illness Outbreak?

Many cases of the respiratory disease have been reported in 16 states, with several more suspected in other areas. Several dogs have succumbed to the disease. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) as well as the Colorado and Oregon departments of agriculture have all issued official warnings.

Please remember that the outbreak of the mysterious canine disease is not being officially monitored by most states. Thus, there is no official documentation available. Many cases are reported based on symptoms, which also makes it difficult to accurately track the outbreak.

A false negative is also common when testing for specific pathogens. This is because there is a period between when a dog becomes contagious and when its symptoms become severe enough to require veterinary attention. As a result, dogs can spread disease before they become ill themselves.

How Does the Mystery Canine Respiratory Illness Spread?

Close contact seems to be the culprit here. Like many other respiratory diseases, pups often get sick when they breathe the same air as infected pooches and/or share bowls, toys, and dishes. The habit of Fido to sniff the noses of his buddies may also be a factor.)

Dog groomers’ salons, kennels, dog parks, and dog daycares are some of the potential hotspots for infection. However, a single infected dog can spread the infection.

You don’t necessarily need to quarantine your canine companion, though your vet may recommend this if he is at high risk. It’s just a matter of taking some precautions. Whenever you board Fido or travel with him, check to see if any of the pups there are afflicted. Ask your veterinarian for specific advice if you’re using a kennel or groomer. If they don’t seem to be taking the issue seriously, you may want to rethink things.

Feel free to contact us, your local Easley, SC pet hospital, whenever you have questions about your dog’s health or care! We’re always here to help!

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