PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- There's a new warning for pet owners about a mysterious illness that's sickened hundreds of dogs nationwide.
Experts say the symptoms are similar to kennel cough only this illness is considered highly contagious and in some cases fatal.
"Unfortunately, right now, nobody knows what it is," said Cranberry veterinarian Dr. Mike Hutchinson.
It doesn't even have a name yet. That's just how fast this illness sickening hundreds of dogs across the country showed up on the scene. What we do know is the pneumonia-like illness starts as a cough and gradually worsens. In addition to coughing, sneezing, discharge from the eyes and nose, trouble breathing and fatigue have also been reported.
"When that happens, you should see your veterinarian because we're going to treat those symptoms. And for viruses, there's really no good anti-viral on the market, however, we can support the symptoms sometimes by nebulizing them or giving them some support, fluids, things that they need," said Hutchinson.
Hutchinson says he hasn't seen any cases in his practice but encourages pet owners to keep their furry friends away from other dogs if possible.
Hutchinson says dogs are most likely to contract the mysterious illness by coming into contact with other dogs in places like kennels, dog parks and groomers.
"Most of the day cares, at least around us, they require that all of the vaccines are up to date, that they have a health certificate from their veterinarian. So most of the time you're putting healthy dogs into that area but you get one dog that's sick, it's like the schoolyard cold, then the rest of them can get that cold," Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson says the holiday season approaching is worrisome for vets and researchers alike. A lot of folks travel and have to board their dogs. He says if at all possible, owners should try to find someone to stay at home with the dogs at least until more is known about the illness.
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