As the cold and flu season continues, experts have warned pet owners that a new type of respiratory illness is now affecting dogs, and researchers are still unsure about the disease.
It’s believed to be highly contagious, and cases have been reported so far in Colorado, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Oregon Pennsylvania, and Washington.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the illness could have originated in Oregon, as there have been around 200 cases since August in the local area. The agency said, “Based on the epidemiology of the cases reported at this point, the cases appear to share a viral etiology, but common respiratory diagnostic testing has been largely negative.”
The symptoms are reported to be similar to canine influenza or kennel cough, although it’s still unclear exactly what it is and the pathology reports haven’t been able to give an exact answer.
The symptoms, according to the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine, include:
- Labored breathing
- Nose or eye discharge
- Decreased appetite
The infection is only affecting dogs, although it seems to be affecting all breeds, which makes it more important for dog owners to take steps to protect their pets. Some ways to do this are:
- Limit interactions with other dogs as much as possible.
- Get dogs vaccinated annually for adenovirus, distemper, Bordetella, parainfluenza, leptospirosis, and H3N2 influenza. This may be covered by your pet insurance.
- If using daycare or boarding, make sure the provider has good hygiene practices.
- If buying a new dog, only use reputable shelters or breeders.
- Any dog that develops a sign of illness should be kept away from other dogs while they have symptoms, or for at least two weeks.
- Pet owners should speak to a vet if they are concerned about their dog. For example, if they are not eating or are very lethargic. This is particularly important if they have been in a shelter or have been boarding with a dog known to have a respiratory illness.