New respiratory infection increasing in Savannah’s dog community

Published: Jul. 26, 2023 at 4:56 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A mysterious respiratory infection circulating in Savannah’s dog community is leaving veterinarians with many questions.

Baxter is back to his energetic self but just a few weeks ago

“It was a dry cough that didn’t go away.”

Dr. John Schoettle at IVM says veterinarians across Savannah have been seeing patients with these symptoms anywhere from 2 to 5 times a week .

“They all started out the same and that is just a little croupy cough something like that.”

Dr. Scheottle says they tested dogs like Baxter for as many infections as they can think of. All those test came back negative.

Dr. Scheottle says this mystery virus is similar to the kettle cough they’ve been seeing for decades.

He says they started noticing the new virus last year and it has a longer recovery time. Most of his patients catch it from boarding facilities or daycare but.

“Dogs that don’t go to any boarding facilities or kennels are still coming down with it, so it must be more infectious now. If you have an older dog or dog that’s prone to illness I think I would not put them in daycares or boarding facilities for now,” Dr. John Schoettle said.

Vets have been treating it with antibiotics. He says dogs with the kennel cough vaccine typically have lighter symptoms.

Dogs who aren’t vaccinated are at a higher risk for pneumonia which he says one and 10 dogs have been getting.

“If it kind of develops into a pneumonia, they are going to start feeling sick. They are going to get lethargic and not eating as well. their cough is going to go from that croupy cough to a deeper and sort of productive cough and by that time you should be definitely seeing a vet and on antibiotics.” “The disease should be given some attention and somebody should do some testing on what this is.”

In the meantime, Dr. Scheottle and Baxter’s owner asks pet owners to call their vets right away.

“Please if you’re dog is coughing, don’t send them around other dogs. That’s a big tip.”

Dr. Scheottle believes the virus will slow down in the fall.