Respiratory Illness Letter

Dear Waukee-Clive Veterinary Clinic pet parents,

Veterinarians and news outlets in multiple states are reporting canine patients with respiratory disease that are non-responsive to standard medical treatment and at times more serious than expected. We are seeing cases in our community as well.

Below are some Frequently Asked Questions with answers to help address any concerns you have and provide you with our plan to help keep your pet safe in our hospital and in the community.

What are veterinarians seeing?

Veterinarians report seeing patients with:

Mild to moderate bronchitis

Chronic pneumonia

Acute, severe pneumonia

What is causing this?

The underlying cause is currently unknown. Some experts think it is viral since these cases are not responding to commonly used antibiotics. Respiratory testing has resulted in variable results, often with entirely negative panels. 

What are some symptoms?

Initial symptoms include coughing, sneezing, nasal and/or eye discharge, fever, decreased appetite and lethargy. Patients with pre-existing health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, thyroid issues, and chronic respiratory issues such as asthma and collapsing trachea are at risk to potentially be more affected.

What to expect if your pet needs to be seen for this illness:

If your pet becomes ill with these symptoms, please call us as soon as possible to schedule an exam. We will do our absolute best to accommodate as many same day appointments as possible.

When you arrive for your appointment PLEASE CALL WHEN YOU ARRIVE AND DO NOT ENTER THE BUILDING WITH YOUR PET. Your pet’s care team will call you when a dedicated room is available. 

Due to the severity and lack of response to traditional treatment, experts are recommending more thorough diagnostics and treatment at the initial onset of symptoms. At first signs of illness, we will be recommending chest X-rays as well as a complete blood count to evaluate for evidence of pneumonia. We will also discuss the submission of respiratory PCR testing to try and identify any potentially complicated viral or bacterial components. 

How do we treat it?

For cases that are presenting with mild clinical signs and no evidence of pneumonia, symptomatic treatment like subcutaneous fluids, high moisture diet, cough suppressants, etc. and close monitoring may be all that is prescribed. 

For cases that have documented (or highly suspected) pneumonia but are stable, we will begin antibiotics and continue outpatient symptomatic treatment. 

In cases that have documented pneumonia and are clinically unstable (requiring oxygen supplementation, etc.), hospitalization with aggressive supportive care at a referral center may be recommended.

It is important to note that a cough may persist for 3-5 weeks after the infection, but as long as there is no ongoing evidence of pneumonia and the patient is not worsening, additional treatments may not be necessary. 

How can we prevent it?

Make sure that your pets are up to date on their vaccinations. We have always actively encouraged the Distemper/ Parvo/ Adenovirus 2/ Parainfluenza vaccine and the Bordetella vaccine. 

If your pet is showing clinical signs, please keep them at home and away from other dogs. If your pet is socializing with other dogs, make sure that the other pets are also up to date on vaccinations. If possible, limit communal food and water bowls when your pets are socializing. 

We recommend checking in with your boarding/ training/ daycare facility to see if they have any further recommendations or requirements.

If you are concerned that your dog may be ill, please seek care as soon as possible.

What about cats? 

At this time, there is no evidence that this respiratory illness is affecting or able to spread to cats. 

At Waukee-Clive Veterinary Clinic we know how much you love and care for your furry babies. We appreciate the opportunity to serve you all during this stressful time.

Dr Angie Gearhart 

Medical Director 

Waukee-Clive Veterinary Clinic