What You Need To Know About The Mystery Dog Illness

Dog owners everywhere are likely anxious with news of a mysterious illness affecting dogs. Right now is not the time for panic, but it is the time for caution and understanding. Below, we will walk you through what we know about this illness, where it’s been reported, the symptoms, and what to do if you suspect your dog has it.

What Is The Mystery Dog Illness?

The illness doesn’t have a name, but many refer to it as “atypical canine infectious respiratory disease,” or, more commonly, “mystery dog illness.” New information is still surfacing, and while its origins are unknown, currently, it’s suspected that it’s a viral illness.

Dogs can contract this illness after being in close contact with other dogs who are sick. As such, it’s important that your dog is up to date on their vaccinations and keep them home if they are sick. Vets are advising dog owners to avoid places where their dog may come into contact with many other dogs, such as:

  • Dog parks
  • Dog kennels/boarding
  • Dog daycare facilities

They also advise avoiding communal water bowls shared by multiple dogs and contact with dogs who appear to be sick.

Where Has The Mystery Dog Illness Been Reported?

The mystery dog illness has been reported in several states:

  • California (confirmed cases)
  • Colorado (confirmed cases)
  • Florida (reported, not yet confirmed)
  • Georgia (reported, not yet confirmed)
  • Idaho (reported, not yet confirmed)
  • Illinois (reported, not yet confirmed)
  • Indiana (reported, not yet confirmed)
  • Massachusetts (confirmed cases)
  • New Hampshire (confirmed cases)
  • New York (reported, not yet confirmed)
  • Oregon (confirmed cases)
  • Rhode Island (confirmed cases)
  • Washington (reported, not yet confirmed)
  • Wyoming (reported, not yet confirmed)


Symptoms Of The Mystery Dog Illness

Dogs affected show symptoms similar to a typical upper respiratory disease, such as:

  • Coughing (for more than 5-7 days)
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes/eye discharge
  • Running nose/nose discharge
  • Abnormal lethargy
  • Trouble breathing
  • Purple or blue gums

The mystery illness is typically resistant to standard treatment options. Clinically, cases reported to the Oregon Department of Agriculture cite:

  • Chronic mild to moderate inflammation of the trachea lasting six to eight weeks or longer, which is minimally or not responsive to antimicrobials.
  • Chronic pneumonia that is minimally or not responsive to antimicrobials.
  • Acute pneumonia that rapidly becomes severe and often leads to poor outcomes in as little as 24 to 36 hours. (Source: AVMA News, Oregon VMA)

What To Do If You Think Your Dog Has The Mystery Dog Illness

We urge everyone to stay calm, cautious, and up-to-date on news regarding the illness.

If you think your dog may be affected, compile the following information:

  • Has your dog been in close contact with other dogs? If so, how many, and where (dog park, groomer, kennel, etc.)?
  • What are their symptoms?
  • Are they exhibiting any other odd behaviors?

Call your vet, explain your symptoms, and provide them with any crucial information. From there, you can get your dog seen and tested for common respiratory illnesses. If those tests are negative, your local vet has no answers, and conditions do not improve, Fetch and More can help.

We have connections with veterinary research institutions all over the United States. We will provide you with a referral to an institution near you free of charge.

If you suspect your dog has this unfortunate illness, please email John Bellocchio the following:

  • Age and breed of dog
  • Any prior conditions
  • Vaccination status of your dog
  • List of symptoms
  • Information from your vet, such as diagnostic sheets, bloodwork, lab results, and anything your vet said or ruled out.
  • Your location
  • Your name
  • Your contact number

After reviewing, we will call you back and provide a free referral to a nearby university health system.

Once we make our referral, the hospital will contact you to discuss moving forward. While we can’t provide any pricing information, as it’s up to each individual university, in our experience, in situations like this, services can have little-to-no cost, or the cost will be flexible.

Again, we want to stress that we are providing these referrals free of charge to dogs who meet the criteria of having this illness.  We’re here to support you.

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