Pups infected with the disease have come down with coughs lasting weeks, leading to pneumonia as well as severe respiratory distress.
At least five states have been hotspots of cases: Colorado, Rhode Island, Oregon, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
Little is known about the disease, which in some cases has been deadly.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture began receiving reports of ‘an atypical canine infectious respiratory disease (CIRDC)’ around the Portland metro and Willamette Valley areas in August. It has since received more than 100 reports of cases.
In most instances, antibiotics have not been effective against the illness and symptoms have often worsened within 24 to 36 hours, according to the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association. The association has received more than 200 reports of possible cases.
‘Based on the epidemiology of the cases reported at this point, the cases appear to share a viral etiology,’ Oregon State Veterinarian Dr. Ryan Scholz told the American Veterinary Medical Association. ‘But common respiratory diagnostic testing has been largely negative.’
North Springs Veterinary Referral Center in Colorado has treated at least 35 dogs with the mystery illness since October 20. Four of them died from severe pneumonia.
Symptoms observed included difficulty breathing, cough, fever, sneezing, discharge from the eyes and nose and appetite loss, said veterinarian Lindsey Ganzer, who owns the center.
‘We need to be treating sooner rather than later. It’s really important,’ Ganzer told The Washington Post.
‘I’ve had cases where it’ll be two housemate dogs, and one of them will show signs, but I’ve gone ahead and started both on antibiotics. A couple days later, the other one will start to cough but is doing better than the first one.’
Ganzar is recommending that pet owners avoid leaving them at boarding facilities and day cares where the disease could spread among dogs.
‘I know it’s going to be hard with the holidays coming up,’ she said, ‘But trying to find somebody that will come to your house and take care of your dog is a better option.’
There is currently no evidence that the respiratory disease can spread to other animals or humans.
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