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How to protect your dog from a new respiratory illness

Posted at 6:43 PM, Nov 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-26 21:45:49-05

NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. — A new respiratory illness in dogs has veterinarians and dog owners concerned, but there are things pet owners can do to prevent this virus.

“Right now, the diagnostic labs who've been getting samples from veterinarians don't really know what it is other than they know it's a virus, but they haven't been able to identify the organism yet," said Dr. Nicole Ferguson, veterinarian at North Shore Animal Hospital in North Fort Myers.

However, she says we do have signs to look out for to protect our pups. Dr. Ferguson says coughing, sneezing and lethargy are signs of the virus. She notes it is best to get your pet to a veterinarian as soon as possible if they are showing these signs.

"Most of the dogs from what I can gather, that are affected by this specific respiratory pathogen, are not responding to the traditional antibiotics, and the course of the disease is longer than expected,” said Dr. Ferguson.

Dr. Ferguson says there are things dog owners can do to prevent the spread of the potentially deadly illness. She says staying away from groomers, boarding places, and dog parks is the best solution.

"Preventive vaccinations for the current diseases that can present similarly so Bordetella, Parainfluenza, Influenza, are going to be the more common ones," said Dr Ferguson. "There are, as I said, a number of diseases for which there are no vaccines.

She says to keep an eye on your dog after they get groomed, come back from boarding or the dog park.

Dr. Ferguson says do not hesitate to take your dog to the vet right away if they start showing signs.

"Get some diagnostics done because the more diagnostics done may help the researchers identify what virus is causing this," she explained.

With the holiday season here, it can be difficult to avoid interactions.

“Until recently, it was really restricted to certain states," said Dr. Ferguson. "Certainly with travel, even global travel, pathogens can go from one area to another a lot quicker.”

Dog owners tell Fox 4 they are staying alert as we learn more about this virus.

“I have them updated on their shots, I get Bordetella shot every 6 months," said Nicole Holleran a Southwest Florida dog owner. "So I’m just continuing that and paying attention to the news."

Dr. Ferguson says they have yet to see a case at their animal hospital, but she says it is only a matter of time as it continues to spread.

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