Veterinary laboratories are warning pet owners about an infectious respiratory disease first detected in dogs a few months ago.
The cases have spread to at least five states while experts are still trying to determine the cause of the illnesses, the American Veterinary Medical Association said in a news release Friday.
Here’s everything you need to know about this mysterious illness, what symptoms to look out for, and what to do if you think your dog might be affected.
What is the mysterious dog illness?
Veterinarians describe the illness as a respiratory illness that can cause coughing, sneezing and lethargy. They say it can sometimes lead to pneumonia and it doesn’t respond to antibiotics.
Experts don’t yet fully understand the disease and its causes, says David Needle, senior veterinary pathologist at the University of New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Needle said he and his colleagues at the university’s Hubbard Center for Genome Research have been studying the virus for more than a year.
Since mid-August, Oregon veterinarians have reported more than 200 cases, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Figures for other states have not yet been revealed.
Which states have cases of dog disease?
Cases of the illness have been reported in several states, including New Hampshire, Colorado, Oregon, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, according to the New York Times. However, experts said the situation was not worrying, but still advised pet owners to take basic precautions to ensure their pet’s health.
How is respiratory disease spread?
Needle said that given the respiratory nature of the disease, it is most likely spread through close contact and breathing the same air as an infected animal, similar to how COVID-19 spreads.
Is dog disease fatal?
Needle says the illness is not particularly fatal and is more of a chronic respiratory illness.
“I think a subset of animals can develop pneumonia, more or less like upper respiratory, bronchitis, rhinitis, tracheitis,” Needle said.
For animals that experience this secondary infection, it can lead to death, Needle explained.
Needle said he and his team have not seen an increase in deaths from the disease, but are still encouraging pet owners to reduce contact with other dogs.
What are the symptoms of dog illness?
Here are some of the common symptoms of respiratory disease in dogs:
- Difficulty breathing
- Rapid breathing
- Wheezing or nasal breathing
- Difficulty exercising
- Runny nose or eyes
- Loss of appetite
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What should you do if you think your dog is affected?
If you notice any of the symptoms in your dog, especially any symptoms that may be related to pneumonia, contact your veterinarian immediately, the Oregon Department of Agriculture said.
They also asked veterinarians across the state to report cases as soon as possible.
How to protect your dog from respiratory diseases?
Needle advises dog owners to make sure their pet’s vaccinations are up to date, so they don’t have any underlying conditions. They also suggest social distancing from other dogs and animals to prevent the transfer of pathogens.
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Contributor: Associated Press
Saman Shafiq is a trending news reporter for USA TODAY. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter @saman_shafiq7.
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