In recent months, a perplexing and potentially fatal respiratory illness has been afflicting dogs in various states across the US, including Oregon, Colorado, New Hampshire, and more.
This mysterious ailment, which begins with a persistent cough, has veterinarians and pet owners alike deeply concerned.
What are the symptoms of the mysterious illness?
The illness is characterised by symptoms that are alarmingly similar to kennel cough but with a more severe progression.
Affected dogs exhibit a dry hacking cough that may sound like a ‘honking’ noise and could be accompanied by retching.
A watery nasal discharge is often present, and while some dogs remain alert and active, others show signs of lethargy, runny eyes and nose, swollen tonsils, wheezing, and a lack of appetite.
In more severe cases, the condition can escalate rapidly, leading to pneumonia that can make dogs critically ill within 24 to 36 hours.
How many cases have been reported so far?
The Oregon Department of Agriculture has reported over 200 cases since mid-August, and anecdotal evidence suggests that the illness is widespread, affecting dogs in states such as Indiana, Illinois, Washington, Idaho, California, and areas in the Northeast.
Despite the growing number of cases, the exact cause of the illness remains unknown. It does not seem to respond to regular antibiotics, which could complicate treatment and recovery.
Veterinary professionals have observed various outcomes of the illness. Some dogs experience chronic cough lasting several weeks, while others develop chronic or severe pneumonia that does not respond well to antibiotics. The latter scenario can lead to dire consequences in as little as one day.
Veterinarians have been urging dog owners to be vigilant. If a dog exhibits symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, nasal or eye discharge, or trouble breathing, it is crucial to seek veterinary care immediately.
Preventative measures include avoiding places where dogs congregate, such as dog parks, kennels, and daycare facilities, and ensuring that pets are up-to-date on vaccinations against respiratory diseases.
Research is ongoing to determine the cause of this mysterious illness. Samples from affected dogs have been sent to research labs, including one in New Hampshire that has been studying the illness since 2022. A
As the holiday season approaches, pet owners are advised to take extra precautions to protect their furry companions from this enigmatic and dangerous respiratory illness.