As cases of serious respiratory illnesses in dogs continue to rise across the country, one family shares how an antibiotic helped their dog survive.
Becky Oliver of California told “Good Morning America” that her family’s 5-year-old golden retriever, Ike, quickly developed an alarming fever in September while traveling to dog shows.
“He really didn’t have any symptoms at first, maybe a cough here or there,” she told “GMA.” “When they took his temperature at the emergency veterinary hospital in Arizona, they said his fever was 105.3. His color was not good.”
To date, the unknown disease affecting dogs like Ike has been reported in several states, including Oregon, California and Colorado.
While research is ongoing, veterinarians say this mysterious disease is highly contagious and can be fatal in severe cases. The symptoms reported so far are also typical of kennel cough: they include coughing, sneezing, runny nose and/or eyes, and lethargy.
Becky Oliver said Ike’s condition later progressed to pneumonia, forcing him to spend several days in a veterinary hospital.
At one point, Becky Oliver said the medical team told her family they didn’t think Ike would survive the illness.
She said she saw a glimmer of hope after discovering an antibiotic called chloramphenicol, which could be a potential treatment for the unknown disease.
“At first the vet said to me, ‘Oh, no, no, it’s an extremely powerful antibiotic, kind of a last resort antibiotic,’” she recalls. “And then the internal medicine vet came and said, ‘No, let’s try.'”
According to Becky Oliver, 12 hours after Ike received the first dose of the drug, he was weaned off oxygen and was able to go home later that week.
Becky Oliver’s husband, John Oliver, told “GMA” that their family’s beloved dog is now back to his normal self.
“He looks great…He jumps around,” John Oliver said. “We still can’t believe he’s still here.”
Dr. Lindsey Ganzer, veterinarian and owner of North Springs Veterinary Referral Center, described chloramphenicol as an “incredibly powerful antibiotic.”
Ganzer, who has not treated Ike, confirmed that the drug is most often used as a “last resort” option.
“This particular antibiotic is usually used as a last resort,” Ganzer told “GMA.” “It’s a case where, you know, if we give it to an owner to give it to a dog, they have to handle it with gloves because people can’t really touch it.”
Ganzer said she recommends dog owners not board or bring their dog into an environment with other dogs, at least temporarily.
“(The) most important thing is to avoid areas where there are a lot of dogs in that space. So, avoid boarding them. Avoid doggy daycares, going to the groomer, going to dog parks. dogs,” Ganzer said.
Ganzer added that if owners see their pets showing symptoms of the mystery illness, they should isolate the dog and then seek medical attention.
“We don’t know how it spreads, whether it’s direct contact or through the air. If your dog has symptoms, see a veterinarian as soon as possible,” Ganzer said. “The earlier treatment begins, the greater the chance that they will not progress and turn into pneumonia.”