Mysterious and potentially fatal respiratory illness affecting dogs in multiple states

Dogs in multiple states have been sickened by a mysterious and potentially fatal respiratory illness. (Source: KPTV)
Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 6:44 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 17, 2023 at 6:46 PM EST
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(Gray News) - Veterinarians say a mysterious and potentially fatal respiratory illness is affecting dogs in multiple states.

According to reports, cases have been found in states including Oregon, Colorado, Indiana, Illinois, Washington, Idaho and California.

Officials with the Oregon Department of Agriculture shared in a press release that dogs with the illness usually have coughing, sneezing, nasal and eye discharge, along with being lethargic.

In August, the department started receiving reports of a mysterious canine infectious respiratory disease circulating in the Portland and Willamette Valley areas.

On Tuesday, Dr. Kurt Williams, the director of Oregon Veterinary Diagnostics Lab, told KPTV that people should avoid boarding their dogs, visiting dog day cares, dog parks, and anywhere else dogs typically gather outside of the same household until the illness is contained.

“I think it would not be a bad idea to avoid possible situations where your dog is mingling with other dogs, and make sure your dog is fully vaccinated,” Williams said.

Veterinarians have submitted at least 200 written reports to the Oregon Department of Agriculture.

Williams urged dog owners to remain patient and calm until scientists identify the disease.

“We need to be logical and patient as colleagues across the country continue to work on this disease,” he said.

By the time most dogs are treated by veterinarians, they have typically already gone through a phase of contagious “virus shedding,” which allows them to infect other animals.

The agriculture department stated in a notice to vets that dogs afflicted with the illness have pneumonia or chronic tracheobronchitis.

Acute pneumonia has already claimed the lives of several dogs, veterinarians said.

According to the San Diego Humane Society, its team is pausing owner surrenders of dogs, except in emergencies that threaten the health of the pet, due to occurrences of a respiratory disease until Dec. 1.

“Any shelter that cares for the large number of animals we care for is used to managing infectious disease. But this is the first time we have had this highly virulent pathogen,” said Dr. Gary Weitzman with the SDHS.

The nonprofit organization said it has lost four dogs to a respiratory disease at its San Diego campus.

According to veterinarians, it remains prudent to keep your dog separate from other canines not in your household while their research continues.

Animal experts also urged dog owners to make sure their furry friends are fully vaccinated against more than just respiratory diseases.