Veterinarians across the country are sounding the alarm over a mysterious and potentially fatal respiratory illness that's sickened hundreds of dogs across the country. Has it spread to New York?

Cause for Alarm

As a dog owner, I have been watching the news like a hawk ever since I learned of a deadly illness that's killing dogs across the country. The reason why I'm so concerned is that this illness is not only unidentified, it also doesn't respond to antibiotics.

My dog battled kennel cough in 2018 and that was scary enough. He recovered because there was a treatment to combat the respiratory illness.

Courtesy Megan
Courtesy Megan/WIBX

But now something scarier than kennel cough is infecting dogs across the country. Over a dozen states have reported cases of this unusual new disease, including nearby New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Rhode Island.

According to veterinarians, the first symptom of this condition is a "pervasive" cough like kennel cough, but it lingers for weeks and doesn't respond to traditional antibiotic treatments. Infected dogs can manage symptoms with treatments like nebulizers, fluids and other support.

Veterinarians say the illness, almost out of the blue, will become more alarming and the condition of the animal rapidly deteriorates. In some cases, the illness has proven fatal.

Dogs can quickly develop a wet cough, fever, nasal or eye discharge, blue or purple gums from oxygen deprivation, lethargy, loss of appetite, trouble breathing, and sneezing. Dogs can become extremely ill within a span of 24 to 36 hours and develop pneumonia.

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Sadly, many dogs have died to this illness because of how quickly it can advance. Several of these animals were humanely euthanized because of how sick they became. The American Veterinary Medical Association is taking this threat seriously and is closely monitoring all cases of this puzzling condition.

The current theory is that this is a new kind of infectious virus, but the data is too preliminary to draw any concrete conclusions at this time.

Veterinarians say this sickness isn't kennel cough, but are classifying it as a canine infectious respiratory illness - which means it is contagious.

Protecting Your Pet

People are advised to take precautions to protect their pooch from contracting this mysterious illness. Pet owners are strongly encouraged to ensure their pets' vaccinations are up to date.

Iko Lee
Iko Lee

In addition, veterinarians say it's best to not take your dogs to daycare, kennels, groomers or dog parks until this illness is under control. In short, pet owners should work on decreasing their pooch's contact with other dogs.

Medical experts say if your dog comes into contact with an infected pet, they could contract the potentially deadly illness and help it spread.

Additionally, if your dog begins exhibiting any of these symptoms, you are to contact your veterinarian immediately.

Is This Illness In New York?

At the moment, there has been no confirmation that this disease has spread to the Empire State, but considering several nearby states have reported cases, it may only be a matter of time before the first case is reported here.

Abused abandoned dog in exile looking sad

The 14 states that have already confirmed cases are California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

I am not writing this to cause panic. It is reasonable to expect the illness to spread to more states, including ours. COVID-19 was a respiratory illness and look how quickly that spread back in 2020. The good thing is, we can protect our pets by keeping them at home until this new nightmare is over.

It is especially important to keep dogs with weakened immune systems or underlying health issues at home.

The issue is that since the illness remains unidentified, there is no way to test for it in animals - so it's hard to put a number on just how many cases have cropped up across the country. Additionally, it's hard to tell just how many dogs have died from it.

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Medical experts are urging residents not to panic - but to be cautious and proactive. Pet owners that take their dogs everywhere should change their habit immediately.

In the meantime, labs across the country are sharing data to pinpoint what is making these animals sick and learn how to combat this disease.

Keep your fur babies safe and at home until health officials figure out what's going on. And, if you must take your dog somewhere, consult your veterinarian first.

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