Updated September 16, 2022
Hello Cedar Ridge Family,
We wanted to make sure that you are aware of a surge in the number of upper respiratory illness cases we have been seeing in dogs recently. The number of dogs showing upper respiratory symptoms such as coughing, discharge from eyes or nose, repetitive sneezing and lethargy is approaching an epidemic level. Some of these pets have also presented with fever and some have had pneumonia seen on x-rays of the lungs.
Why are we concerned?
We are seeing these signs in dogs fully vaccinated for the most common upper respiratory infections. Many of these dogs are young and otherwise healthy. Some will go on to develop more serious illnesses including pneumonia. Airway testing in these pets have almost always come back negative, indicating that these vaccines seem protective and suggesting another infection is causing the symptoms.
Who is at risk?
We typically see more upper respiratory infections in pets that have been boarded, but many of the pets showing the respiratory illness have not been boarded or groomed recently. These pets may play with dogs in groups, daycare, dog parks, or other play time with friend or neighbor owned dogs. Some have only come into contact with other dogs while on walks. This leads to a concern that dogs are being exposed doing normal dog activities around other dogs that are shedding the disease without any physical signs or symptoms.
What can I expect if I need my pet evaluated for respiratory symptoms?
Please be understanding with our staff as we evaluate these patients with respiratory symptoms. We will be examining these pets outside of the hospital when at all possible to help us minimize spread to other dogs. You will be asked to wait in your car for the duration of the visit or at least until we can safely escort you and your dog directly to an exam room. Our staff may be in protective clothing (gowns, masks, gloves) to minimize transmission by our staff to other pets. Do not allow your pet to have any contact with other pets or pet parents in the parking lot. If your pet needs a potty break then walk them far away from other animals. The strip of grass between our clinic and the Dunkin Donuts store is a good location. Please remember that we are on a busy road and you should have your dog on a leash at all times when out of the car. We will not be able to accommodate a drop off appointment for these sick visits so please plan appropriately and be patient as it may take longer to work in your pet if the schedule is full.
What if I need to board my dog?
If you are planning to board your pet, we encourage you to consider other options such as an in-home pet sitter or a friend or family member to look after your pet and thus minimize their risk and exposure. If boarding cannot be avoided, please make sure your pet is up to date on all of their vaccines and that your boarding facility has a plan in place to separate any sick dogs.
What if I notice symptoms in my pet?
Call us and let us know. We will try and see your pet as soon as our schedule allows. Begin a quarantine of your pet until we can evaluate them. Take some video of the symptoms – especially coughing as we can assess some things that way. If your pet is not eating it may indicate a fever and would be important to address. Some of these cases are quite severe and we have developed a minimum database in order to assess how severe the symptoms are. This minimum database includes an exam and often bloodwork and x-rays of the lungs. Airway testing may also be recommended. Our goal is to address pneumonia early and quickly since this is the main thing that can cause death in your pet.
If I have started treatment of my pet, what should I monitor at home?
Pets should get better with treatment and we will need regular feedback from you as to how that is going. Your pet should be quarantined from other dogs until at least 1 week after symptoms have 100% resolved. This includes dog parks, grooming and visits with any furry canine family members. If your pet seems worse at any point or has not improved in 10-14 days then please let us know so we can schedule a recheck visit.
To review, there may be a resistant viral or bacterial disease or a newly emerging upper respiratory infectious agent causing the increase in respiratory symptoms being seen in our area and elsewhere across the United States. If symptoms are noticed, please call for an appointment. Begin isolating your pet immediately.
The Doctors of Cedar Ridge Animal Hospital