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  • Writer's pictureTiffany Tillema

Mysterious Dog Virus May Already Be in Texas

Dog owner worried about the Mysterious virus
Mysterious Dog Virus may already be in Texas

Veterinarians across the country have been warning dog owners about a mysterious Canine virus that has been plaguing at least 14 states and may have already reached Texas. The respiratory disease is highly contagious, was first detected only a few months ago, and has rapidly been spreading. The illness is an upper respiratory disease similar to the Canine Flu. It is Contagious and can be fatal. In Texas, canine respiratory illnesses are not reportable, so it is unclear how many cases are here, although experts agree it probably is or will be soon. Texas veterinarians are urged to report any mysterious upper respiratory illnesses that come into their care.

What Is The Virus?

The illness has no official name, as experts have not fully understood the virus and its cause. However, it is being described as an “atypical infectious respiratory disease.”

Here are some of the symptoms to look out for:

  • A chronic cough lasting more than two weeks

  • sneezing

  • lethargy (lack of energy)

  • Runny eyes and/or nose

  • difficulty breathing

  • wheezing

  • fever

  • loss of appetite

  • dehydration

The disease causes sudden bronchitis that is nonresponsive or slow to respond to treatment and can last for weeks. If the illness turns into pneumonia, it will do so quickly usually in 24 to 36 hours, and is nonresponsive to antibiotic treatment.

Although experts are not completely sure how the disease is transmitted, it is most likely spread through close contact with an infected animal.

At this time, there is no treatment that can kill the virus as it has not been fully identified, so any treatment will be supportive and treat the symptoms directly.

The virus is canine-specific and will not spread to humans or other non-canine animals.

What Can Dog Parents Do?

First of all, do not panic. The risk to your dog is much less than you think. The highest-risk dogs are those in settings such as doggie daycare, shelters, and boarding facilities.

Be vigilant and watch your dog for unusual behavior, particularly for a cough that lasts more than two weeks. Have your dog seen by your vet anytime you are concerned for their health.

Keep up with all of your pet's vaccines. Although there is no vaccine for the new virus, the stress your pet's body is under when ill can make him more susceptible to other illnesses.

Limit exposure to other dogs. For the time being, until the disease is understood better, avoid places such as dog daycare, dog parks, boarding facilities, or stores that allow dogs whenever possible.

If traveling, consider using an in-home pet sitter. Besides the fact that it limits exposure, petsitters are considered less stressful on your animals altogether. A less stressed dog is a healthy dog.

Talk to your vet. If you have concerns or if your dog has an immunodeficiency, talk to your vet about extra precautions you may take or additional guidance.

Bottom line

Don't panic. It's always scary when new illnesses are discovered, especially those without effective treatments or vaccines. This recent illness is no exception. However, vigilant dog parents have no reason to panic. It is not likely that your dog will acquire this illness here in Texas, at least not yet, and the experts are diligently studying the genome of the disease, so they will soon be able to find treatments and preventatives. Anytime you are concerned about your pet's health, consult your veterinarian. They are your first line of defense for your pet's health.

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