The Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (ADDL) at the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine is investigating the mysterious respiratory illness recently reported in dogs across the country.
Animal health officials are still trying to determine what is causing this illness and how to successfully treat it. In some cases, the illness has lead to pneumonia and even death.
No pathogen has been identified yet as causing the symptoms in affected dogs, said Kenitra Hendrix, director of the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (ADDL) and a clinical associate professor at the Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine. The lab’s investigation comes as part of a national effort to address this problem.
The Indiana Board of Animal Health (BOAH) has been monitoring the situation but has limited information on how much of a risk dogs here may face.
“BOAH has had calls from veterinarians across the state—Fort Wayne, Indy, Bloomington, Evansville, to name a few,” Denise Derrer, BOAH public information director said. “The disease is not reportable, so we do not have any idea how many cases are out there.”In an effort to learn more, the Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory is asking veterinarians to submit samples from dogs they suspect have the disease. The lab, which serves as the official diagnostic lab for the state of Indiana, is one of many labs across the country participating in the United States Department of Agriculture’s investigation into the outbreak.
Symptoms to watch for in your dog
- Coughing and sneezing
- Difficulty breathing
- Rapid breathing
- Wheezing or nasal whistling
- Difficulty exercising
- Nasal or eye discharge
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
If your dog is open mouth breathing and/or struggling to hop up onto furniture, that is a good indicator that the illness is moving into their lungs, and it is time to go to the vet, veterinary experts on a Q&A panel about the illness said.
Pet parents will notice different symptoms if the infection is in the upper respiratory tract or in the lungs, said Scott Weese, chief of infection control at University of Guelph’s Ontario Veterinary College.
“Once you start seeing things in the lungs, so they’re breathing harder or they’re breathing faster, they’re really flat out sick, that’s when we want to get them in soon,” Weese said.
Some pet insurance claims for dogs with this illness have been $15,000 to $17,000 for treatment including oxygen supplementation, IV fluids, antibiotics and hospitalization, said Steve Weinrauch, Trupanion’s Chief Veterinary and Product Officer, host of the panel.
Touching base with your vet when you notice minor symptoms is important, but it is crucial if you notice the more severe lung-related symptoms to get them to the vet urgently to avoid the expensive vet bills.
For now, Purdue experts at the College of Veterinary Medicine say dog owners in Indiana have no reason to panic.
“At this time we recommend that dog owners not worry, but exercise appropriate caution,” a notice on the college’s website says.
More:Mysterious and fatal dog respiratory illness now reported in 14 states: See the map.
What dog owners can do
The Board of Animal Health has issued the following tips for dog owners:
- Be vigilant in monitoring dogs for signs of illness after boarding, holiday travel, or other activities where pets may have commingled with others. If a dog develops a cough or lethargy, a veterinary visit is recommended.
- Make sure all dogs are up-to-date on all of their recommended vaccines including distemper combination (distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza and parvo), Bordetella, and canine influenza.
- Reduce contact with large numbers of unknown dogs when possible. Just like with other respiratory diseases, dogs that are commingled may be at greater risk for developing the illness.
- When possible, reduce contact with other animals.
- Keep sick dogs at home whenever possible (unless taking them to the veterinarian for examination or treatment). Social settings carry inherent risks of disease spread.
- Avoid communal water bowls shared by multiple dogs.
If your dog is showing symptoms of this atypical canine respiratory illness, you can work with your vet to submit a sample to the ADDL to further aid in the disease investigation. More information can be found at vet.purdue.edu/addl/news/231122-dog-illness.php
Contact IndyStar reporter Katie Wiseman at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @itskatiewiseman.