A Champaign-Urbana area veterinary clinic is expressing concerns about a recent uptick in dog respiratory illness, enough to warn patients about bringing dogs to dog parks or other “unregulated” gatherings.
On Dec. 7, SportsVet Animal Medical Center took to Facebook to warn clients and friends “to refrain from frequenting dog parks, or any other unregulated gatherings of dogs in order to reduce the risk for infection.”
“Use your best judgement when allowing your pet to interact with other dogs,” wrote Dr. Dayle Dillon of Savoy’s SportsVet Animal Medical Center in an email interview. “Unfortunately areas such as dog parks or group meeting places are not monitored 24 hours a day and so it becomes very easy for an ill pet to have access to these areas and come into contact with a large number of dogs at one time.”
The good news: this does not appear to be another outbreak of canine influenza or “dog flu” as seen in 2015 and 2016, Dillon wrote. Clinical signs of this current ailment range from a mild cough to fever, lack of appetite, and/or extreme lethargy.
SportsVet Animal Medical Center began seeing multiple pets with those signs around the time of Thanksgiving, likely due to the number of pets being boarded over that holiday. Symptoms appear to be resolving within a few days to a little over a week.
“At this point in time, we have seen cases from pets who were boarded over the Thanksgiving holiday in towns at least an hour away,” Dillon said. “The illness appears to be fairly contagious considering some of the animals we are seeing have had minimal or brief exposure to situations that would have placed them at risk.”
Treatments include trying to reduce frequency and severity of cough by prescribing a cough suppressant, to administering antibiotics for a suspected secondary bacterial infection and anti-inflammatories for any dogs presenting with a fever.
“However, if a dog becomes severely ill they could need more aggressive treatment involving hospitalization and intravenous medications so it is important that dogs with symptoms that worsen or persist for more than 10 days contact their veterinarian to discuss how to proceed,” Dillon said.
What are dog owners to do in the meantime?
1. If your pet begins displaying signs of any illness that persist for more than 24 hours, it is a good idea to contact your vet to discuss your concerns and how you should proceed.
“At this point in time we are asking all of our clients who have pets displaying any of the clinical signs mentioned above to contact our clinic to schedule an appointment,” Dillon said.
SportsVet Animal Medical Center has a separate access point to its facility for any dogs who have the signs mentioned above, so as reduce the risk of infection to any of its other patients.
2. Make sure dogs are up to date on vaccines such as Kennel Cough and Canine Influenza, if that’s appropriate for them. Those dogs seen by Dillon who have gotten sick recently had these vaccines, lessening the illness’s impact.
“Canine Influenza and Kennel Cough are “lifestyle” vaccines, and are not recommended for every dog,” Dillon said. “The vaccines are intended to protect dogs at risk for exposure to these illnesses, which includes those that participate in activities with many other dogs or housed in communal areas.”
3. It’s advisable to stay away from dog parks or other places where “unauthorized” gatherings of dogs may take place, for the foreseeable future.
But what about boarding facilities, especially with the holidays approaching? Be sure to consult with ownership about policies on vaccines and illnesses.
Cat owners should be aware that this disease does not seem to be impacting felines.