No official cases of canine illness reported in Utah, but symptoms showing up in sick dogs

Nov 27, 2023, 6:16 PM | Updated: 7:16 pm

WEST JORDAN — Bryant Cunningham has watched his four-footed friend, a charcoal Labrador named Dakota, suffer from an illness for weeks.

“We went on a bunch of backpacking trips this summer up in the mountains and do a lot of hikes together, Cunningham said. “He can go the full 10, 20 miles without any problems. He’s a very healthy dog.”

One morning at the beginning of October, Dakota woke up with a long, deep cough. Cunningham believes it was the beginning of his friend’s battle with an unnamed and unusual canine respiratory illness that is infecting dogs in several states. After several days of Dakota being sick, he visited the veterinarian.

“They didn’t know what it was. They thought maybe something as severe as a collapsed lung was occurring.”

Treatment started with antibiotics and steroids. Cunningham started hearing about the mystery illness hitting dogs. There were severe coughing fits and things got worse, prompting another emergency visit to a vet.

“He (Dakota) started getting all the symptoms. Runny nose … There’s a lot of mucus, discharge, coughing. He would have some white phlegm that would get coughed out all the time; he was fevering.”

Colorado, New Hampshire and Oregon are among the 14 states that have seen cases of the illness that doesn’t seem to respond to antibiotics. That matches Dakota’s experience.

Deadly dog illness has Utah pet parents and businesses taking extra precautions

“You give the medicines to them day and night nothing seems to change,” Cunningham said. “He just gave a strong antibiotic which didn’t seem to do much. What we’ve been told is that only the steroid is actually helping the dogs with the disease right now.”

Oregon had 200 confirmed cases of the dog disease documented a week ago, working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory to discover what is causing it. Cunningham feels it’s like COVID-19 for dogs and has kept Dakota isolated the past few weeks.

He said multiple vets told him they believe his dog did contract the illness. Utah’s state veterinarian, Dr. Daniel Christensen told KSL he has not received any reports of the disease from veterinarians around the state.

“It just seems odd to me that there are zero reported cases and I don’t know how they’re testing dogs or how they’re reporting on them,” Cunningham said.

He is hopeful that Dakota continues to improve and that researchers can understand more about the illness so other pets don’t suffer.

“Hopefully we’re in the clear and things can improve.”


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No official cases of canine illness reported in Utah, but symptoms showing up in sick dogs