Mysterious Respiratory Illness is Sickening Dogs


A mysterious and potentially fatal respiratory illness in dogs has been reported in many states across the country. Thus far, veterinarians have yet to specifically identify the illness or even to know exactly how to treat it.

The mysterious respiratory illness appears to begin with a fever, cough and lack of appetite and can worsen quickly – even if treated, as antibiotics don’t appear to typically work. Often, the illness transforms into a severe pneumonia which dogs have succumbed.

No one – to date – knows if antibiotics are to a great extent ineffective because the illness is viral (and not bacterial) or if it is antibiotic resistant. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the illness can last up to six to eight weeks.

Whatever the illness might be – its quickly spreading east across the country, though Oregon appears to be particularly hard-hit by the illness. Many experts suggest the spread will worsen as a result of holiday travel as dogs themselves move across the country. Some state veterinary associations are warning against boarding or kenneling dogs over the holidays (which is, of course, easier said than done) and even cautioning against visiting dog parks. Most certainly, all suggest an urgency to being up to date on vaccines for respiratory illnesses.

Since mid-August, the Oregon Department of Agriculture has received reports of over 200 cases of the illness from veterinarians in the state. It’s not known how many dogs have died.

In its press release, the Oregon Department of Agriculture noted that the illness can progress in three ways: a mild to moderate cough for six to eight weeks or longer that either doesn’t respond to antibiotics or only responds a little; chronic pneumonia that doesn’t respond to antibiotics; or severe pneumonia that “often leads to poor outcomes in as little as 24 to 36 hours.”