Respiratory Illness Affecting Dogs: information and advice from HomeVets

As many of you have heard, a new respiratory illness has been identified in dogs across the United States. Symptoms begin with a persistent cough that then progress to more severe respiratory symptoms including pneumonia. Other symptoms include lethargy, loss of appetite, and discharge of the nose and eyes. HomeVets is aware of the situation and our doctors are monitoring updates as they become available. In the meantime, we urge you not to panic, but to take reasonable precautions to protect the health of your dog, and to know what signs indicate that it is time to call your veterinarian or take your dog to the nearest emergency hospital.

Thus far, the illness has not been responsive to antibiotics and is being managed primarily with supportive care, so prevention is key. According to news reports, this illness is being seen mostly in dogs that have been in high-density areas such as doggie daycares and boarding facilities. Dr. Budge is recommending that pet owners avoid bringing their dogs to boarding facilities, groomers, doggie day cares, dog parks, and keep them away from shared facilities such as publicly accessible water dishes. It is also important to make sure your pets are up to date on their vaccinations, particularly those that protect against other respiratory illnesses. With holiday travel upon us, many dog owners may be planning to board their dogs. If doing so is unavoidable, please check with your boarding facility to make sure they are taking precautions to prevent the spread of disease.

In the event that your pet does become ill, it is good to know when symptoms warrant a call to your veterinarian, and when you should skip your pet’s general practitioner and go straight to the emergency hospital. Dr. Wolfe says to call your GP veterinarian if your dog is showing signs of, coughing, sneezing, lethargy, or discharge of the eyes or nose. This is particularly true if your dog has been exposed to other dogs where the illness may have been contracted. Pet owners should go directly to the emergency hospital if their dog is having difficulty breathing or coughing blood, or if you are seeing concerning symptoms and your general practitioner’s office is not open.

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