Outbreak of potentially fatal virus in dogs has reached the Quad Cities

Outbreak of potentially fatal virus in dogs has reached the Quad Cities
Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 11:37 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 20, 2023 at 11:42 PM CST
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BETTENDORF, Iowa (KWQC) - Similar to the common cold for humans, this kennel cough-like illness is a respiratory virus in dogs. It has been spreading across the country for the past year and is currently affecting dogs in the Quad Cities.

According to Bettendorf veterinarian, Dr. Matt Nelson, he typically sees about one to two cases per week. However, recently, he is seeing four to five cases per day.

To make matters worse, the usual treatment for kennel cough appears to not be working, leading to infection in the lungs and sometimes death.

Chris Comes, of Bettendorf, is the owner of two dogs: Ollie, 2, and Tucker, 11.

Back in early October, both Ollie and Tucker started to have a persistent dry cough, but nothing serious. Then one day, Tucker’s condition began to deteriorate.

“Tucker did not want to get up and go out to the restroom outside at all,” said Comes. “He was just very lethargic.”

This was very unusual, so Chris took him into emergency care, where he received treatment and went home. The following morning, Tucker’s condition didn’t improve. It got worse. And they went to see Dr. Nelson for care.

“They immediately gave him great attention and identified that he did have pneumonia, and it was quite serious at the time,” said Comes.

Dr. Nelson, with the Maplewood Veterinary Center in Bettendorf, says this has become a common occurrence.

Dogs initially receive treatment for kennel cough, but then quickly return for additional care.

“We’ve seen so many respiratory cases present as typical kennel cough,” said Nelson. “And a few have turned into pneumonia with some bad results. So we’re changing our tune a little bit to where when they first come in, we’re recommending x-rays and some bloodwork, to make sure it’s not turning into something more aggressive.”

Dr. Nelson stresses the importance of acting swiftly if your dog begins to present symptoms of kennel cough.

“The typical presenting signs are a dry hacking cough where it sounds really bad and like they want to cough something up but nothing ever comes up,” said Nelson.

Both, Dr. Nelson and Comes, urge dog owners to be vigilant heading into the holiday season and beyond. They say to not hesitate to bring your dog into the veterinarian’s office. It could save their life.

“You’ve got to be a health advocate,” said Comes. “Just like you’re a health advocate for other family members in your life. You got to be a health advocate for your dog.”

Dr. Nelson said the spread of the illness is not limited to any particular location or location. He says it is everywhere, especially when interacting with other dogs, as it appears to be highly contagious.

He also recommends avoiding dog parks and boarding facilities, as well as contacting your trusted veterinarian, to ensure your dog is up to date on all of their vaccines and shots.