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The Peddie News

The student news site of Peddie School

The Peddie News

The student news site of Peddie School

The Peddie News

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Veterinarians Warn About “Mysterious” Dog Illness Spreading Across the U.S.

Veterinarian Checking in on Dog – New York Post

Health officials in over fourteen states across the United States have reported a “mysterious respiratory illness” spreading in dogs.


Although this illness doesn’t yet have a name, it has been sickening dogs and is concerning veterinarians because of its difficulty to track. The exact number of dogs affected is unknown, and there is no national data tracking for canine illnesses. In a December 6 statement, the American Veterinary Medical Association confirmed that cases have been seen in multiple states, with New Hampshire leading the way in lab research and tests. 

Dr. Gina Kettig, a veterinarian at the VCA Alameda East Veterinary Hospital in Denver, Colorado, said in a November 20 TODAY segment she’s seen over thirty dogs with this mystifying ailment.


What are the symptoms of this mystery illness?

The illness usually starts out as a cough and can last for weeks to months. Dogs won’t respond to typical treatments, such as antibiotics or medications. In the worst cases, the cough progresses to pneumonia, which can then turn into breathing difficulties and a deficiency of oxygen. Dr. Michael Lappin, director of animal studies at Colorado State University, reported that between September and November 2023, the number of pneumonia cases in canines has risen by 50%, in comparison to 2022. In most scenarios, though, the common symptoms are sneezing, labored breathing, lethargy and a decreased appetite. 

Similar to the common cold, this illness can be spread from dog to dog through close contact in places like daycare, dog parks, boarding kennels or the groomers. Dr. Amanda Cavanagh, head of urgent care services at Colorado State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital, noted to TODAY that cases of the bizarre disease typically decrease in the fall as fewer dogs gather at the park or doggy daycares.


What’s the cause behind this terrible and sometimes deadly disease?

NBC News reported on November 21 that researchers in New Hampshire have identified a pathogen that could be the cause of the illness. 

After sequencing genetic samples from over seventy gods, scientists at the University of New Hampshire’s Veterinary Diagnosis Laboratory and the HUbbard Center for Genome Studies described the pathogen as “a funky bacterium” that can overtake and defeat canine immune systems. 

Dr. Jason Stull, an assistant professor of veterinary medicine at Ohio State University, claimed that even though the virus or certain pathogen is found in the sick dog, it might not be the sole reason or cause of the disease.


Why is this illness so bizarre and scary?

Other than the fact that researchers aren’t 100% certain of the actual cause of the disease, one of the biggest challenges is determining what cases fall under the category of this illness and which are normal sickness cases. 

Dr. Scott Weese, a pathobiology professor at the University of Guelph Ontario Veterinary College, believes that cases of this illness have probably occurred before but have not been identified, and “The current disease patterns don’t really fit with emergence of a new highly transmissible pathogen…”. 

Also, many doctors are concerned that canines may be getting infected with multiple viruses at a time, which can lower their immunity and make them susceptible to other fatal infections.

If your dog has been diagnosed with this mystery coughing illness or presents with the symptoms listed above, contact your veterinarian or 911 immediately, if necessary.


Which states have reported cases in the mystery dog illnesses?

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington
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