“There’s a lot we don’t know,” said Dr. Sara Waltz.
Waltz is the medical director of Truss Vet in Cary. She said in just 24 hours they had eight cases of dogs coughing, some of whom developed pneumonia.
“That’s not to say that all of these dogs have this mysterious disease, but in those that progress, we are more aggressive in how we treat them,” Waltz said.
Researchers are not yet sure what causes the disease, but the symptoms of the disease are very similar to those seen in kennel cough, such as sneezing, coughing, and runny nose and eyes.
However, the illness can last for weeks and appears to be unresponsive to normal treatments, unlike kennel cough, according to Truss Vet.
“With these cases, rather than being inclined toward some sort of surveillance, we really encourage owners to get their pet examined because this is something that has progressed quickly,” Waltz said. “Even though their pet seems healthy, what happens is they develop pneumonia very quickly. The sooner we can intervene in these cases, the better the outcomes will be.”
Tonja Poinsette said her dog Norea showed symptoms similar to those spreading in neighboring states before making a full recovery.
“It seemed like she was clearing her throat the whole time, coughing, like she was trying to hack something and was extremely lethargic,” Poinsette said.
Although most cases are not life-threatening, some dogs can contract life-threatening pneumonia and, in some cases, die.
Waltz said boarding is safe during the holidays, but be sure to keep your pet up to date on vaccinations and watch out for symptoms.
“Make sure you talk to the boarding school to make sure there hasn’t been a recent outbreak…and see what they’re doing to decontaminate and protect patients from each other,” said Waltz.