Veterinarians warning pet owners about new, mysterious illness

Recent reports say hundreds of dogs have caught it, and it can be fatal.
Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 2:10 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - There’s a new, mysterious illness that veterinarians nationwide are warning pet owners about.

Recent reports say hundreds of dogs have caught it, and it can be fatal.

Veterinarians at Lexington’s Brighton Animal Clinic say they’ve seen several cases of the unnamed illness since February. They say pet owners shouldn’t panic, but should be cautious.

“The cases that do have this mysterious illness progress extremely rapidly,” said Hannah Delk, practice manager at Brighton Animal Clinic.

Delk says there are still a lot of questions even the experts have about the illness, like where it comes from. What they do know, she says, is that it’s highly contagious and it starts with a persistent cough.

“Then it develops into pneumonia. This can be a mild case of pneumonia, and, in some cases, it’s very severe,” said Delk.

Delk says they usually see an uptick in respiratory cases in the summer when dogs are more social, but as fall approached, they never saw cases go back down.

“It’s not been a seasonal thing. We’re seeing continued cases,” said Delk.

Delk says, along with the persistent cough, dogs may show other signs of the illness like fatigue, lethargy and lack of appetite. She says catching it early is key.

“We’re finding that they don’t respond to the antibiotics as quickly. We’re needing a longer course of antibiotics. Sometimes we need to do IV antibiotics as well as supportive care once pneumonia is developed,” said Delk.

Experts say dogs are most likely to catch the illness by coming into contact with other dogs. Delk says, if possible, avoid exposure and make sure they’re up to date on their vaccines.

“If you’re thinking about your dog being in a population where there might be other dogs, for Christmas, etc., make sure that you’re doing as much as you can with that baseline of vaccines,” said Delk,

“If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms or you have any questions about the illness, it’s best to call your veterinarian.