Veterinary specialists work to identify respiratory diseases in dogs

Veterinary specialists work to identify respiratory diseases in dogs

Close-up of a Labrador dog in a veterinary clinic with his owner petting him (Getty Image)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — An unusual respiratory illness has sickened dogs in several states, and veterinarians are trying to determine why the animals became ill while encouraging owners to take basic precautions.

Oregon, Colorado and New Hampshire are among the states that have seen cases of the disease, which causes permanent respiratory illness and pneumonia and does not respond to antibiotics.


Symptoms of respiratory disease in dogs include coughing, sneezing, nasal or eye discharge, and lethargy. Some cases of pneumonia can progress quickly, making dogs very sick within 24 to 36 hours.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture has documented more than 200 cases of the disease since mid-August. It has encouraged pet owners to contact their veterinarian if their dog is sick and has asked state veterinarians to report cases as soon as possible.

According to the department, reported cases fall into three categories: chronic tracheobronchitis that lasts for at least six weeks and is not easily treated with antibiotics; Chronic pneumonia that does not respond well to antibiotics. And acute pneumonia Which can severely affect canines in less than 24 hours.

The agency is working with government researchers and the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory to find out the causes of the diseases.

“We’ve done a series of tests looking mostly for common types of predicted bacterial and viral pathogens, but we’re also doing some testing for potentially new agents as well — new viruses in particular,” said Curt Williams, the center’s director. Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

Williams said the dogs have died, but without a clear way to identify or test for the disease, he said it’s difficult to determine how many people have died from a severe form of the infection.

As pathologists and virologists continue their research, Williams encourages dog owners to trust the process and take precautions.

“I think it’s very important to make sure that the animals have been properly vaccinated or that they have a great diet, you know, all the things that we have to do for ourselves in terms of maintaining and preventing disease: proper diet, proper exercise. Proper vaccination. He said: Visit your veterinarian regularly if you have concerns.

Laboratories across the country have shared their results in an attempt to identify the culprit.

David Needle, a senior veterinary pathologist at the New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire, has been investigating the mysterious disease for about a year.

His lab and colleagues at the university’s Hubbard Center for Genomic Research have examined samples from dogs in Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and more are coming from Oregon, Colorado and perhaps other states.

He said his team has not seen a significant increase in dogs dying from the disease, but he still encourages pet owners to “minimize contact with other dogs.”

The Associated Press’ Devi Shastri contributed to this story.

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