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Veterinarians concerned as “unusual” respiratory illness spreads amongst dogs in Colorado Springs

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) - A highly contagious, and potentially deadly dog illness is spreading in Colorado Springs, and veterinary clinics are now warning dog owners as the number of cases is growing.

The Pine Creek Veterinary Hospital says they've seen five cases this past month that match the symptoms of the new illness, but add that local emergency hospitals they've been in contact with have reported nine cases in just the last week. Some of those cases proved deadly.

"There is no known treatment because we don't know what we're up against," explains Cristy Fisher, co-owner of Pine Creek Vet Hospital.

Typically, respiratory issues in dogs are tested for and traced back to 'kennel cough' or canine influenza, which saw an outbreak in Chicago and then in Colorado Springs years ago. However, Fisher says this new illness is unlike those typical diagnoses.

"But what sort of stood out was usually kennel cough patients resolve on their own, ironically; and this the patients that had this, they didn't seem to resolve, and if they did, it came back, which was unusual.

If a dog comes down with the virus, Fisher says it will develop an extreme cough, which will produce lots of mucus and phlegm.

Fisher now recommends doing your best to steer your dog clear of populated areas, especially ahead of the holiday season.

"Don't take them to a boarding facility, avoid dog parks, doggie daycare, grooming facilities," said Fisher.

Katherine Lull, a frequent user of the Bear Creek Dog Park in Colorado Springs with her four-year-old dog says when she heard about the illness, she took precautions.

"I made a vet appointment and got her thoroughly checked out and vaccinated," explained Lull.

But, she says she doesn't plan on limiting her outdoor time with her best friend.

"I'm not going to live in fear. I'm going to keep an eye on her and if she shows any signs of respiratory distress or coughing or whatever,  I'll take care of it," said Lull.

Fisher explained to KRDO13 that there are limited options for treatment, and all clinics are taking in as much data as they can as more dogs are being tested to pinpoint a proper way to attack the new virus.

"Hopefully it's not going to last long. But it looks to be here to stay," said Fisher.

If your dog is showing symptoms of extra mucus, or abnormal coughing, you're encouraged to visit your veterinarian or animal care provider.

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Tyler Cunnington

Tyler is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about him here.


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