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At least a dozen states, including Indiana, have reported cases of an unusual respiratory disease in dogs

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Indianapolis, Indiana – If you own a dog, consider carefully before introducing your pet to large groups of people.

At least a dozen states, including Indiana, are seeing an increase in strange respiratory ailments, according to veterinarians.

You’ve likely heard of kennel cough, a frequent but rarely fatal dog ailment.

“I took her to the vet to get some other vaccines, and I left her in the car and said, ‘My dog’s doing this coughing. Is it okay if I bring her in?’ No, no, no,” dog owner Julian Kroin recalled from a recent vet visit.

Veterinarians are keeping an eye out for what the Indiana Board of Animal Health described as a potentially “more complicated” form of kennel cough, which occasionally persists longer and is resistant to medical intervention.

“And in very rare cases, we see dogs that become significantly more ill than what we expected or what we’ve seen in the past, even some cases where they develop pneumonia and require hospitalization,” Veterinarian and BOAH Director of Small Animal Health Programs Melissa Justice explained.

The number of sick dogs is unclear because the sickness is not reported in Indiana. Veterinarians have been testing for bacteria commonly associated with kennel cough for the previous few months, but according to Justice, the results are negative.

“We don’t know if we’re just not testing at the right time in the infection process to identify those commonly seen infections that we’re used to or if we have a new pathogen,” Justice said.

According to Justice, even if there is still much we don’t know about this new illness, dog owners shouldn’t fear.

“I don’t want people to be fearful, and we certainly don’t want people to significantly alter their plans to the point where they’re not traveling or things like that,” Justice said. “I’m also recommending that people make conscientious decisions. If your pet doesn’t need to go to the puppy daycare or if it doesn’t need to go to the dog park in order to maintain normal, happy, healthy behavior, then maybe choose not to go at this point.”

Some of the regulars at the dog park, including Larry Jones and his golden retriever, Dory, said they thought they had the sickness already.

“We tried antibiotics, and it didn’t really seem to do anything, but it went away, and everything’s fine now,” Jones recalled.

Now that all of their dogs are well, everything at the park is going smoothly.

“There’s some things you can’t do anything about,” Kroin said. “I didn’t want to change my whole lifestyle. I didn’t think it was going to be that big of a deal.”

Thankfully, Justice said, advanced experiments are underway in laboratories, and in a few months, we may have some answers. She suggests making sure your pets have had all required vaccinations and getting in touch with the clinic if they start displaying any symptoms related to their respiratory system.

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