A potentially serious respiratory disease of dogs may not have made it to Akron and Summit County, but it has been reported in multiple states and officials are advising pet owners to keep up with their animals’ immunizations.
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Because the infectious disease spreads from animal to animal, the Downtown Cuyahoga Falls Partnership decided to cancel this year’s Jingle Dog Parade, which traditionally features dog- and family-friendly activities, including pictures with Santa.
“We had no way of seeing this coming and we feel this is the right thing to do for the safety of your dog(s),” the partnership has announced. “…We decided that the risk isn’t worth the potential harm as your pups are family.”
What is the mystery dog disease that’s going around?
The illness is being called atypical canine infectious respiratory disease, with cases reported in California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Georgia, Oregon, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Cases in New Hampshire were reported in the summer of 2022, and the Oregon Department of Agriculture has recorded more than 200 cases in the Portland Metro and Willamette Valley areas since before August.
Oregon officials advise pet owners not to be overly concerned, noting the number of sick animals are a small percentage of the total population. Periodic outbreaks of canine infectious respiratory disease complex can occur, caused by at least nine different known bacteria and viruses transmitted by respiratory droplets.
Are there any cases of the new dog illness in Ohio?
In Ohio, one veterinary practice has seen two or three otherwise healthy dogs with non-stop coughing that did not survive the rapid-onset symptoms.
Locally, the Summit County Animal Control Facility has not seen any cases of the new disease.
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“We have always had kennel cough, I think every facility does when you have 90-plus dogs,” said Christine Fatheree, Summit County Animal Control manager. “We treat for kennel cough and we haven’t had any issues or any deaths related to respiratory disease here. They respond to the antibiotics that we give them.”
Likewise, the Summit County Humane Society, with about 150 dogs, has only the occasional case of kennel cough.
“We have no confirmation of any incidents,” said Humane Society President Diane Johnson-Owens. “We are definitely monitoring the population for any concerns.”
New disease or media spotlight?
Scott Weese, director of the Centre for Public Health and Zoonoses at the Ontario Veterinary College in Canada, said he has looked into the reports from the United States and isn’t quite sure whether there is a new disease, or just a case of heightened awareness of typical cases, fueled by unusual mass media attention.
“I think we’re definitely seeing more disease in some areas, something that happens regularly,” Weese said. “Whether it’s more overall or more hype, I don’t know. Looking at a few different dataset, it supports the notion that there is more disease in some areas at some time, but not necessarily a big overall issue.
“Time will tell, to some degree, but it’s still most likely this is a increase in ‘normal’ disease driven by dog factors (e.g. changes in vaccination, reduced immunity from previous exposures …) than a new pathogen.”
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Initial disease symptoms similar to ‘kennel cough’
In the United States, the cause of the disease has not been identified, though Oregon officials have described its symptoms:
- 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.
Experts advise pet owners to report suspected cases to a veterinarian, and take precautions, including making sure dogs have updated vaccines and avoid “nose-to-nose” contact with other dogs when boarding or at dog parks.
Most dog-gathering venues such as dog shows, training centers and boarding facilities already require that dogs have certain vaccines.
- Dogs can be contagious and still look perfectly healthy.
- Keep your dog away from toys, food and water bowls used by dogs outside your household.
- Ask your veterinarian or check news or internet sources about where respiratory infections like canine influenza have been reported.
- Delay or avoid travel with your dog to places where outbreaks are occurring.
Dean Narciso of the Columbus Dispatch contributed to this story. Eric Marotta can be reached at [email protected].