US Dog Owners Asked To Take Precautions As Mystery Illness Strikes
Several veterinary laboratories in the US are encouraging people to take basic precautions to keep their pets healthy as they investigate an unusual illness in dogs. The condition has caused lasting respiratory disease and pneumonia and does not respond to antibiotics.
Oregon, New Hampshire and Colorado are among the states that have reported cases of the illness. Symptoms in dogs include coughing, sneezing, lethargy and nasal or eye discharge. Some cases of the pneumonia progress quickly, making dogs very sick within 24 to 36 hours.
While research is underway, veterinarians say the mystery illness is highly contagious and can be fatal. Dogs have died, said Kurt Williams, director of the Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Oregon State University. But it’s hard to put a number on how many have died.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture has documented more than 200 cases of the illness since mid-August. The agency has encouraged pet owners to contact their vet if their dog is sick and asked state veterinarians to report cases at the earliest.
Laboratories across the country have been sharing the results as they try to pin down what’s making the animals sick. Williams had a simple message: “Don’t panic,” while highlighting the importance of keeping the pets up to date on vaccines.
“Decrease Contact With Other Dogs”
Experts say any dogs showing signs of consistent coughing should be brought to a vet. Amanda Cavanagh from Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital also recommends keeping any coughing dogs away from other dogs and for 2 weeks after the cough goes away.
David Needle from the University of New Hampshire’s New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory has been investigating the condition for almost a year. He said his team has not seen a large increase in deaths but asked dog owners to “decrease contact with other dogs”.