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Unknown virus affecting dogs discovered in Indiana

dog at veterinarian
Posted at 6:21 PM, Nov 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-28 18:36:28-05

If your dog starts coughing, pay close attention to it. An undetectable respiratory virus has now sickened dogs in more than a dozen states, including in Indiana.

"This is COVID-19 for veterinary medicine," said Dr. Rick Arnold, a veterinarian at Windermere Animal Hospital in Fishers with forty years of veterinary experience. "All of the tests we're doing now are coming back negative, but we know the dogs are sick."

Arnold has not come across a case personally, but said colleagues in Indianapolis, Evansville, Fort Wayne, and Bloomington have all reported cases of the unknown virus.

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"The situation with this undiagnosed respiratory issue is it's likely if symptoms progress for longer than two weeks," Arnold said. "If there's a cough, if the dog's lethargic, and if they don't feel well."

While the virus is not known to veterinarians, Arnold said they have past precedent on how to manage it with illnesses such as kennel cough. He recommends dog owners vaccinate their pets for the illnesses they do know about for protection.

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"That's your bordetella vaccine, your influenza vaccine, and your distemper-parvo vaccine, Arnold said. "We don't know if it's a mutated virus of an existing virus or if it's a new virus. That's part of the process."

Some dog owners aware of the unknown virus feel comfortable placing their dogs in social situations because of their vaccinations.

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"They get the kennel cough vaccine, which is important to me," said Erika Bardiano, who regularly takes her dogs Bear and Bella to the Broad Ripple Dog Park. "It's still the same. I'm still taking Bella to the doggy day care, although I am considering not doing it as much."

Arnold believes veterinary medicine is advanced enough for doctors to identify this virus and find a cure before long.

"The ability to identify, follow up, and do everything now is just phenomenal," Arnold said. "The medicine and the information is so amazing and so increased than when I started."