A Potential Fatal Mysterious Respiratory Illness Sickens Dogs In 10 States, Here Are Symptoms To Watch For

Veterinarians are working to identify the cause of a respiratory ailment that has been detected in a number of US states and has proven to be dangerous, even fatal in some cases, in dogs.

The illness initially presents as a lingering cough that persists for several weeks, but may not be curable with antibiotics. This can cause the dog to suffer from breathlessness and a serious case of pneumonia.

Veterinarians are warning dog owners that the transition from a cough that persists to pneumonia can occur rapidly.

A Veterinarian practice in Colorado has experienced close to thirty canines who have been affected with the sickness since the middle of October and the cases are still not decreasing, with an average of two to three dogs being brought in each day, a majority of which require hospitalization. Five of those dogs had passed away due to the illness, while they were already in a state of respiratory distress with pneumonia.

Experts do say that there is no need for dog owners to be overcome with fear. Concern over this illness is justifiable, however pet owners should take measures to protect their dogs from sickness, like avoiding places with multiple canines and keeping their vaccinations, particularly against respiratory illnesses, up to date.

What is Currently Known

Based on the cases reported as of late summer 2023, the cases appear to share a viral etiology, but common respiratory diagnostic testing has been largely negative. A handful of cases do test positive for M. cynos, but that is not believed to be the underlying causative agent.

The cases reported appear to primarily fall within three general clinical syndromes:

  • Chronic mild-moderate tracheobronchitis with a prolonged duration (6-8 weeks or longer) that is minimally or not responsive to antibiotics.
  • Chronic pneumonia that is minimally or not responsive to antibiotics.
  • Acute pneumonia that rapidly becomes severe and often leads to poor outcomes in as little as 24-36 hours.

The likeliest way for a dog to become infected is by being in close proximity to other canines, which could easily occur in such places as dog parks, grooming services, boarding facilities, and daycare centers.

The Following States Have Reported The Illness:

New Hampshire

The American Veterinary Medical Association confirms that they are keeping an eye on the incidents of respiratory sickness across the United States in dogs. However, at this point the cause of the sickness is still a mystery.

Recently, there have been a number of accounts of respiratory illness outbreaks among dogs in animal shelters in the United States. The San Diego Humane Society experienced the loss of four of their dogs as a result of “severe respiratory canine illness,” as stated in a Nov. 15 press release.

The outbreak at San Diego Humane Society has been attributed to two bacteria, Strep zoo and Mycoplasma.. Strep zoo and Mycoplasma can be treated with the right antibiotics, which were successful in saving the dogs at her shelter from the recent outbreak.

Signs and What To Watch For

Persistent coughing that lasts longer than a week
Excessive sneezing
Discharge from the nose or eyes
Lack of energy
Difficulty breathing, especially from the abdomen
Bluish or purplish gums, indicating not enough oxygen

How To Prevent

At this point, the best recommendation is to avoid places where dogs can interact with each other to be the top priority. Pet owners from all over the country should heed this advice, even if their state has yet to report any incidents.

As the holidays come near, the concern may grow as a great number of households make plans to travel for the upcoming holiday season.  A lot of people depend on kennels when they go away. Experts are advising to keep away from kenneling canines over the holidays if it can be avoided. Cautions that boarding a dog should not be taken lightly due to the unavoidable circumstances that some people have to contend with. If the option is available, having someone come to the house to let the dog out is preferable.

It is advised to keep her dogs at home and stay away from places where they could interact with other canines. Do not to allow any nose-to-nose meetings between unfamiliar dogs while on the street.

To ensure your pup’s well-being, it is advised having your canine’s vaccinations kept current. This year, vaccinations for respiratory illnesses should go beyond the typical minimum, like Bordetella and canine influenza. Be sure to give your dog two weeks after the shot before having them interact with other dogs, allowing them to build immunity.