New Mexico veterinarian warns dog owners about mysterious illness spreading nationwide
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A mysterious and potentially deadly illness continues to infect dogs nationwide, so New Mexico’s top veterinarian is warning dog owners what to look out for.
The disease reportedly starts with a persistent cough that could last for weeks. Then, the dog gets lethargic and refuses to eat.
Those are just the first symptoms.
“There are a lot of different forms of respiratory disease in dogs, most of which are treatable or preventable with vaccines,” said Dr. Samantha Uhrig, state veterinarian with the New Mexico Livestock Board. “And this one, for whatever reason, is not responding well to treatment.”
Since antibiotics are not working, vets and researchers at Colorado State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences believe it’s a virus.
Still, very little is known now.
“There’s testing underway right now trying to determine what the cause is, but we, at this time, we don’t know the cause,” Uhrig said.
The disease has been reported in 14 U.S. states, including Colorado. With it hitting so close to home, Uhrig says it’s only a matter of time before it is found in New Mexico.
“Certainly with neighboring states experiencing this, it does put New Mexico at risk,” Uhrig said. “At this time, we have no confirmed cases, and we do rely on our veterinarians in private practice to report those cases to us.”
Because so much is unknown, it’s determined dogs have the virus when tests for other known respiratory illnesses are negative.
With many people planning to travel for the holidays, the illness could find new ways to spread from dog to dog.
“It’s really important if you’re going to be boarding your dog or taking it someplace, you want those vaccines in place at least two weeks before your dog is potentially exposed to other dogs,” Uhrig said.
Again, no cases have been reported in New Mexico yet. Dog owners should keep a close eye on their pets. If your dog has a cough that won’t go away, bring them to a vet to get checked out.