What veterinarians are describing as a "mysterious illness affecting dogs" is concerning pet owners around the country when some cases of this highly contagious respiratory issue have been fatal.

Here are Some Symptoms of the Mysterious Dog Illness

According to ABC 7, the unknown respiratory illness has stricken hundreds of dogs across the United States, with the first reported case being back in August (2023) in the state of Oregon.

The illness is described as being similar to kennel cough with "coughing, sneezing, nasal and/or eye discharge, and lethargy" as the most commonly reported symptoms.

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During the middle of October in Colorado, a section head of a Veterinary Teaching Hospital reported "far more coughing dogs coming into the emergency room than in years past" and what normally would be a dry cough was now "this wet cough where the dog felt sick," according to the report from ABC 7.

When Should You Take Your Dog to Get Checked for This Illness?

Experts are saying to have your dog checked if they show any sign of a consistent cough.

Here are a few things you can do if your dog will be in situations or at events where other dogs are present, according to the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association:

  • Make sure all dogs are up-to-date on all their vaccines including canine influenza, Bordetella and parainfluenza.
  • For event organizers: Dogs should have a health check 12-24 hours before the event. Have a DVM onsite checking dogs for health issues (mild nasal discharge, cough, elevated temperature, being off food).
  • Please consult with your veterinarian for dog-specific advice before attending any events where dogs are congregated.

A few other things you can do to help keep your dog safe from this mysterious illness, courtesy of OVMA:

  • Reducing contact with sick dogs. This can be harder to determine but if a dog looks sick (coughing, runny nose, runny eyes), keep your dog away from it.
  • Keep sick dogs at home and seek veterinary care.
  • Avoid communal water bowls shared by multiple dogs.

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To prepare yourself for a potential incident, always keep your vet's phone number handy, along with an after-hours clinic you can call in an emergency. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center also has a hotline you can call at (888) 426-4435 for advice.

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