Vet sees more than 170 cases of mysterious dog illness in one month

RALEIGH, North Carolina -- Veterinarians in North Carolina have seen a surge in a mysterious coughing illness in dogs and they're warning owners to keep an eye out for the signs.

Dr. Page Wages has seen an astounding 178 cases in the past month at Care First Animal Hospital.

"I am a little bit worried about this new cough we're seeing in dogs," Wages said.

And it's not just one type of cough -- there are multiple.

"Some (coughs) are quiet. Some are really loud, they sound like a goose, which we usually attribute to kennel cough," Wages said. "Some coughs are wet, so some dogs are ending up with bronchitis, some with bronchopneumonia, some with full pneumonia."

A lot of dogs have high fevers and have to be hospitalized. Some have been placed on oxygen.

Cases started popping up in late July and early August in dogs who are highly social like those who frequently go to dog parks, day camps and social spots. The highly contagious illness is spread from dog to dog, not to or from humans. Dogs only have to be 10 to 12 centimeters apart to spread it.

Dogs tested have shown everything from a common lung infection to bordetella (also known as kennel cough), even in dogs who've been given the bordetella vaccine. Some dogs have gotten more severe cases, called pseudomonas.

"Pseudomonas", Dr. Wages said, "is really, really, really hard to kill."

The severe cases of pseudomonas require a treatment of multiple antibiotics for four to six weeks.

No dogs have died of this mysterious illness yet, but Wages says it's possible, especially since some dogs had to be placed on oxygen.

Animal experts are calling this "Canine Upper Respiratory Infectious Disease."

"Nobody really knows," Wages says.

Dogs who've been given bordetella and influenza vaccines don't have as severe of symptoms, but Dr. Wages is begging dog owners in Raleigh not to take their dogs to dog parks or day camps or social spots for a few weeks until the cycle can be broken.

If your dog has an unusual cough Dr. Wages urges you to call your veterinarian.
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