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What Is The Mysterious Illness Sweeping Through America’s Dog Population?

Across the nation, anxieties are escalating as reports pour in about a potential outbreak of a canine infectious respiratory disease, exhibiting symptoms similar to kennel cough. The concern is particularly evident with the holiday season in full swing, as many embark on travel journeys and entrust their pets to boarding facilities. The fear that this mysterious illness could rapidly spread has cast a shadow over the festive atmosphere, prompting a collective call for awareness and precaution among dog owners.

Researchers and veterinarians are still figuring out this mysterious illness, and they now think it’s caused by a new germ. Dr. David Needle, who works at the University of New Hampshire, describes it as a “funky bacterium,” meaning it’s tricky to find and study because of its unique and challenging nature.

Reported Symptoms

Reported symptoms include a cough, along with discharge from the eyes or nose, fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite. In certain instances, the illness has advanced to pneumonia and resulted in deaths.

If dog owners observe any of these symptoms in their pup, it’s crucial to seek veterinary attention immediately. And, as always, vets have advised that your dogs stay up to date on all vaccinations.

Photo By: 6ABC

Last week, Mike Stepien, spokesperson for the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), stated that the agency is collaborating with various state animal health officials and diagnostic labs to investigate the respiratory illness in dogs. In rare instances, the illness has swiftly advanced to fatal outcomes.

Stepien emphasized that the cause of the illness has not been definitively identified, and there are currently no reports of associated human illness.

States With Reported Cases

The cases of dog respiratory infections have been reported in only a handful of states, including New Hampshire. Several other states have reported possible cases as well:

Reported Dog Illness Photo By: 6ABC
  • Oregon
  • Colorado
  • New Hampshire
  • California
  • Indiana
  • Illinois
  • Washington
  • Idaho
  • Georgia
  • Florida

This list is probably much longer with new cases appearing daily. As Animal Humane Society’s Director of Veterinarian Medicine Dr. Graham Brayshaw said, “if there’s a disease moving around in multiple states, if it’s not here, it’s probably passed through here or its going to come here at some point.”

How To Keep Your Pup Safe

As holiday travel picks up and people prepare to hit the road or take to the skies, a notable caution is being sounded by experts: boarding pets at facilities is strongly discouraged. In light of the ongoing mystery illness affecting dogs, professionals advise steering clear of boarding facilities, daycares, groomers, dog parks, or any location where a multitude of dogs might be confined in close quarters.

Taking these precautions is considered a prudent measure to safeguard the health and well-being of our furry companions during this uncertain time.

For those gearing up for holiday travel, it’s recommended to consult with your veterinarian and pet relocation experts to put together a plan, ensuring the safety of your furry companions.


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