Pet parents on high alert for mysterious respiratory illness

Illness Attacking Dogs

The News10NBC Team details breaking News, Traffic and Weather.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Pet parents are on high alert as a mysterious respiratory illness in dogs has spread across the nation. 

Local veterinarians are seeing an increase in visits and calls from worried owners. The surge in illness comes at a terrible time locally as the only 24/7 animal hospital closed last week. 

Sue Castle of Gates has three dogs. Right now, all of them are struggling to breathe.

“It’s so scary. The sounds they make, it’s horrific,” she said. “It really sounds almost like they’re choking.”

Boxer mixes Ruby and Sinner have gotten a bit better over the last week but nothing seems to be helping Lillith, a chihuahua mix.

“She got really bad and they think she’s got a respiratory virus, she has some inflammation, so I had to take her back a second time for X-rays to make sure because some of these dogs that are getting this virus, it’s turning into or becoming pneumonia and a couple of dogs have passed away,” Castle said.

Her dogs go to a local doggy daycare and other dogs there are sick, too. Initially, they thought there was an outbreak of kennel cough but now, they don’t know.

“Nothing against the daycare, I think it’s great socialization for the dogs, but it’s just until things get situated, especially with this new virus, I’m not going to bring them back because it’s scary,” she said.

The virus has now been reported in at least a dozen states. It does not respond to medication and symptoms typically last longer than the normal 7-10 days that come with kennel cough. 

At a time when the only 24/7 veterinary hospital just closed, local urgent cares say they’re ready to help if pet parents need it.

“We’ve seen quite a few increases since we’ve opened that weren’t able to get into the emergency clinic but we foresee more and more coming throughout the next couple of days,” said Taylor Mendick, the hospital manager at Stoney Pointe Pet Hospital in Ogden.

Affected dogs may be lethargic, have a fever, decreased appetite, cough or show signs of respiratory distress. The sooner you can get your pets checked out, the better.

“We are having more staff available, we are opening up more appointments – as much as we can to get as many patients through as we can help,” said Mendick.

The less contact your dog has with other, unknown dogs right now, the better. Also, they should avoid shared water bowls.