Surge in Mystery Dog Illness Sparks Concern: What to Know
Getting the flu or a severe cold seems somewhat unavoidable during the holiday season. However, it’s not just humans facing risks. There’s an unidentified, and highly contagious respiratory illness affecting dogs as well.
Concerns are mounting among veterinarians nationwide as an increasing number of dogs exhibit coughing symptoms, causing anxiety among pet owners and experts. Idaho resident Wendy Brown witnessed this firsthand with her three golden retrievers—Bridge, Dooley, and Lulu.
In early November, Brown observed troubling signs in her pets. “Dooley started doing kind of this huffing and also seemed to feel quite lethargic,” Brown shared with Good Morning America. Bridge and Lulu, soon after displayed similar symptoms. Initially considering it to be a typical kennel cough, the persistence and severity of their conditions hinted at a more troubling issue.
Kennel cough typically resolves in seven to 10 days and clears up on its own. A veterinarian might prescribe antibiotics like doxycycline. This is generally the case, if there’s a risk of a secondary bacterial infection, according to Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.
Experts weigh in on mystery dog illness.
Veterinary experts, including Amanda Cavanagh from Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, affirmed that this mysterious illness is highly contagious and potentially fatal. Symptoms mimic those of kennel cough, such as coughing, sneezing, nasal and eye discharge, and lethargy. Cavanagh noted on GMA that a transition from a dry to a wet cough indicates a more serious condition, possibly pneumonia.
The Department of Agriculture in Oregon has officially documented 200 cases of a concerning canine disease. According to veterinarians in the state, the illness acts swiftly, with some affected dogs experiencing pneumonia-related fatalities in less than a week.
Meanwhile, The Animal Foundation in Las Vegas has designated the unidentified illness as “strep zoo,” a term derived from Streptococcus zooepidemicus.
Due to the contagious nature of the illness, Cavanagh recommends pet owners seek veterinary care for dogs with persistent coughing. Advanced diagnostics like lung ultrasounds can help identify whether the cause is pneumonia or the circulating contagious strain. She also advises isolating coughing dogs from others. Continuing this isolation for two weeks after symptoms subside, prevents the spread of this mysterious illness.