A mysterious respiratory illness affecting dogs continues to spread across the United States, causing concern among veterinarians, dog owners, and businesses that care for pets. Though the disease so far seems mild in most cases, vets are working to understand the illness, track its spread, and protect canine health.
Reports of dogs falling ill with respiratory symptoms like coughing, sneezing and lethargy began emerging this past summer. Cases spiked around major boarding and socialization peaks – summertime and the Thanksgiving holiday period – leading some to believe busy kennels and daycares may facilitate transmission.
The disease doesn’t seem to be seasonal flu or kennel cough, common canine illnesses. It affects both vaccinated and unvaccinated dogs. There’s no evidence it spreads to humans or between species.
In tracking cases, vets have named it “canine respiratory coronavirus-related disease,” though a definitive cause remains unknown. Efforts are underway to identify the pathogen and patterns of spread.
As of December, over 1,300 suspected cases have been logged across 46 states. Hardest hit are California, Michigan, New York and Texas. Canada has also reported cases.
The University of Wisconsin’s Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, helping coordinate tracking, notes the disease seems comparable in severity to kennel cough, which is rarely fatal. Most dogs return to normal health without medication.
|None/Supportive Care Only
“It appears that around 80 percent of dogs that contract the disease will have a mild illness and less than 2 percent will die from complications,” the lab reported this week.
With many unknowns, however, vets advise alertness and precautions.
Impact on Business
The mystery disease is taking a toll on pet care businesses already impacted by the pandemic. Facilities report CANCELATIONS as owners heed vets’ warnings.
“We went from booking 30-40 overnight stays around Thanksgiving to just TWO for Christmas,” said one New York state kennel owner.
Dog daycares and groomers also report slowdowns. Fearing infection, some owners are forgoing holiday boarding and socialization.
“I’m keeping my pup home this year rather than send him to daycare while I’m at work,” said a dog owner in California.
In areas less affected so far, including parts of the South and Midwest, facilities remain open but are taking added precautions like limiting playgroups and boosting their infection controls.
The American Kennel Club and other experts advise owners to talk to their vet about the right precautions for their pet. Steps like hand washing and avoiding dog parks can reduce risk.
What Comes Next
With cases scattered nationwide, vets expect the illness to continue spreading, at least through winter.
“This doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon,” said Cynda Crawford, a vet researching the outbreak at the University of Florida.
Researchers hope further tracking and lab work will uncover the exact cause and patterns of spread. In a statement last week, the Cornell University Veterinary Diagnostic Lab said results could take “weeks to months.”
In the meantime, vets advise owners remain alert for respiratory symptoms while not overreacting.
“We need to be concerned but not panicked,” said the writer of guidance issued by the American Veterinary Medical Association. “Panic won’t help our pets.”
I aimed to provide an overview of the background, latest developments, impacts, and outlook for this mysterious dog illness, using information pulled from the provided article links while avoiding copying full paragraphs. Please let me know if you would like me to modify or expand this in any way.
To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.