Upper Valley Vet Warns of Circulating Respiratory Illnesses in New Hampshire Dogs

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Wolcott dog breeder Penny Strong with two of her dogs. Courtesy picture

A veterinary hospital on the Vermont-New Hampshire border is warning dog owners about a new contagious respiratory disease detected in New England.

Veremedy Pet Hospital, which has locations in White River Junction and Woodstock, sent an email alert to customers this week about the illness, which appears to have originated from kennels in southern New Hampshire.

“It may spread to other parts of New England, including our area,” Veremedy wrote. “At this time, the causative agent has not been found, and we have had reports of affected dogs negative for all the usual canine respiratory illnesses.”

Linda Waite-Simpson, executive director of the Vermont Veterinary Medical Association, wrote in an email that she had not been notified by the state of the disease. “It may be an emerging situation and they just haven’t informed us yet,” she said.

Dr Brian Collins, a senior lecturer at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, said dogs that contract the disease “require more intense treatment than they would typically expect from some of the more common respiratory illnesses”, including including hospitalization. He likened gravity to the canine flu.

The vast majority of dogs have recovered from the disease, he said, although it has been fatal in rare cases and its overall fatality rate remains unknown.

Collins said the illness resembles kennel cough and pneumonia, with symptoms including coughing, sneezing and lethargy. While respiratory illnesses pop up from time to time, he said they’re not “usually something that serious”.

In an August 24 statement, the Manchester Veterinary Emergency Center in New Hampshire said it had seen 250 cases of the disease, 75% of which required hospitalization. While some dogs appeared to have contracted the disease at a boarding school, others appeared to have contracted it from contact with another dog in a low-density location.

According to Cheryl Catrambone, executive director of the New Hampshire Veterinary Medical Association, “If people are worried, they really shouldn’t bring their dog to public places that have other dogs.”

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