Mysterious Respiratory Disease in Dogs
There has been coverage in the news media regarding a "mystery" respiratory illness affecting dogs out west, and serious concerns about the health of dogs in our area. We feel a need to address these concerns for our dog community as a whole and for individual pets and their owners.
In preparing for and dealing with the likely possibility of the illness spreading east to us here in Greenpoint, as your healthcare professionals, we want to provide the best guidance we can.
Firstly, what are the knowns about the mystery illness?:
- Reported to date in the following geographical areas: Oregon, Colorado, New Hampshire and possibly Chicago.
- It affects dogs of all ages and causes common "cold" signs such as cough, eye and nasal discharge, and feeling mildly unwell.
- We also know the disease is not responding well to antibiotics, and, in a minority of cases, can progress to pneumonia and death.
- The illness spreads through direct contact, possibly through aerosolized respiratory droplets, that come in contact with dog mucous membranes (nose, eyes, mouth).
Secondly, what are the unknowns?:
- The rate of spread is unknown, although it does not seem rapid per se.
- We do not know the causative nature of the illness, which might include one, or most likely a combination, of organisms including bacteria, viruses and potentially an immune-mediated inflammatory response.
Thirdly, what can we do?
We want to continue living our lives, and have our dogs live their lives normally and unencumbered, however, there are some considerations we should take:
1) Ensure our dogs are up-to-date with vaccinations against respiratory illnesses including Bordetella, Parainfluenza (included in the DHPP vaccine, otherwise known as Distemper/Parvo) and influenza. Although we don't know if any of these pathogens are involved in the new respiratory illness, reducing the additive effects that can happen when they are involved should help reduce the severity of illness.
2) Avoid exposure if possible. This means limiting time where dogs are housed or socialized in closed areas, namely daycare, boarding and grooming facilities. If these places are a necessity in the dog's normal life, try to find outdoor social facilities. Dog parks and runs that are outside have a lower chance of being a source of infection, but there are still risks, especially if there are large numbers of dogs present at one time.
3) If our dogs start showing signs of sickness, keep them home and call us.
Together, our goal is to provide safe, healthy and meaningful lives to our doggy friends, not only at the clinic but starting at home in our beautiful City of New York!