Local Vet Discusses Mysterious Respiratory Illness Found in Dogs

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – This Thanksgiving week, health officials still don’t know the cause of the mysterious illness that attacks dogs’ respiratory systems. With travel in high gear, veterinarians hope to provide dog owners with knowledge before traveling to one of the states that has seen an explosion of cases.

Illinois and Indiana are two states where cases of this mysterious illness are increasing. In some cases, dogs have died from it, so veterinarians want to make sure families gathering in affected areas are doing so safely for their beloved pets.

Bruiser’s, a ten-year-old English bulldog, was in a bit of trouble as he was at the veterinary clinic. Fortunately, his condition has nothing to do with the mysterious respiratory illness that had owners and veterinarians concerned this Thanksgiving weekend.

“We know that this is a very infectious disease and it spreads very easily, the same way many respiratory illnesses do,” said Dr. Drew Linklater, an emergency critical care specialist at Blue Pearl Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Hospital in Glendale.

The highest concentration of cases so far has been in eleven states, including Illinois and Indiana, but it appears to be spreading. Dr. Linklater said even Wisconsin has a few.

“A few cases have been reported. It appears to be a little more widespread in other states,” Dr. Linklater said.

A good note: no dogs in Wisconsin have died from this mysterious disease, and we’re told cats are not affected. It’s a topic of conversation at Warnimont Dog Park in Cudahy the day before Thanksgiving.

“Lucy loves the dog park. She’s been coming here since she was a puppy. She loves to play,” said Janet Wunrow, Lucy’s owner.

Janet Wunrow is worried about her poodle because her windpipe collapsed. Wunrow chooses not to use the shared water bowls at this time.

“Open the cap, it serves as a bowl. Even though we have very vigilant volunteers here who bring fresh water every day, the fact remains that these bowls are not sanitized and things like that,” Wunrow said.

If you plan to bring your puppy with other dogs for the holidays, veterinarians advise you to stay away from any dog ​​exhibiting symptoms such as coughing, runny eyes or nose, lethargy and fever.

How is this disease different from kennel cough?

“Very often, kennel cough starts with something very simple: a cough with a bit of lethargy that usually goes away within a week. It seems to have two different things that are atypical. The first is that the symptoms are “It’s quite serious. We see dogs developing pneumonia from this disease and sometimes having to be hospitalized on oxygen and being very sick from it,” Dr. Linklater said.

Second, the cough may improve, then return even worse days or even months later.

“Check with the facility you’re boarding them at to make sure there isn’t an outbreak. We’re always a little more concerned about it where there are areas of groups of dogs going congregate like dog parks, groomers, boarding facilities, that sort of thing,” Dr. Linklater said.

Currently, veterinarians can perform routine tests, such as a throat or nose swab for kennel cough, Bordetella, and even the flu, but so far these tests are coming back negative.

Institutions are trying to understand the cause of this mysterious cough. Sometimes antibiotics seem to help, and sometimes they don’t.


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