Concerns rise following uptick in ‘mystery respiratory virus’ affecting dogs

A warning for pet owners, as many dogs across the country are coming down with a respiratory virus, with no known cause.
Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 4:58 PM EST
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WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB/WSHM) - A warning for pet owners, as many dogs across the country are coming down with a respiratory virus, with no known cause.

It first popped up late this summer in Oregon and now similar cases are being reported in several states including here in New England.

‘Tis the season of sniffling, sneezing and coughing. And it’s not just in humans. “Fido” is getting sick too and doctors are baffled as to what’s causing it.

“We know it’s out there,” said K.C. Schreiber. “And we’re working within the field to find out what it is.”

Local veterinarians have seen an uptick of these severe cases but are unsure how many are related to this “mystery disease.”

“These dogs are not responding to the treatments that are normal for an uncomplicated upper respiratory illness,” explained Schreiber. “We’re seeing these guys come back in and require hospitalization, and pretty intense hospitalization multiple times.”

Associate veterinarian K.C. Schreiber told Western Mass News, this surge of cases reminds her of the canine influenza outbreak from a few years back, where dogs were impacted in group settings.

“Dogs going to dog parks, grooming facilities, doggie daycare or boarding facilities,” noted Schreiber. “Basically, where they’re exposed to other animals, they’re exposed to whatever this is.

The symptoms are all very similar to kennel cough. Schreiber said symptoms to look out for include: Lethargy, decrease in appetite, cough, and nasal discharge.

“Get that first, hey this is what we think we’re dealing with,” added Schreiber. “But if you aren’t improving in 24-48 hours, we want to see you back because you could be getting worse.”

She said extra testing is not normally done with kennel cough, but it can be done to help detect an issue.

“Now, because this is out there, I imagine we will start pushing for that diagnostic testing earlier that we could hopefully get an answer,” explained Schreiber. “But right now, we don’t the cause of this agent of illness that’s out there.”

The good news, Schreiber said this is an illness that can typically be cured.

She said it’s also good to make sure your dogs are up to date on their kennel cough vaccines and flu vaccines.