There’s something alarming you should know about if you have a dog you love. Hundreds of dogs are falling seriously ill around the country and veterinarians can’t figure out why.

Labrador retriever is laying near a big empty dogfood bowl.

It’s something they haven’t seen before, so they’re not even sure how it’s spreading. With so many people traveling for holidays and visiting family around the country, often with their dogs, you should know about this even though it hasn’t arrived in New Jersey yet.


This mystery illness, whatever it is, is causing dogs to have lethargy, sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge, eye discharge, and pneumonia. Scariest thing is it doesn’t respond to antibiotics. Veterinary experts have no clue yet what is causing it.

Some of these cases are ending in fatalities.

Janie Airey

Where it’s hitting

States hit hardest with this are New Hampshire, Oregon, Illinois, Colorado and Washington. In Oregon alone over 200 cases have been reported. It’s interesting that many of these hardest hit states don’t border each other.

What to do

New Jersey-based veterinarian Kirsten White says not to panic. The fact that this isn’t responding to antibiotics could simply mean it’s viral, but they just haven’t figured out if it’s a new virus or how easily it spreads.

“If an owner is concerned, or they have a dog that has a compromised immune system — something like a cancer patient — they can consider avoiding exposure to other dogs in places like dog parks, doggy daycare, boarding kennels, or grooming facilities,” White said. 

Again, even if people aren’t traveling with their dog for the holidays, there’s a chance they may be boarding it somewhere. So this has people concerned even in places like New Jersey where we are waiting to see if or when it hits here.

David Hernandez

Experts say if your dog starts showing any signs of respiratory illness to get it medical attention and to also keep its exposure to healthy dogs limited. No dog parks, no doggy daycare, etc..

While the canine medical mystery continues, veterinarians remind us that some things dogs get can be passed to the human population too, so if your dog falls ill practice thorough hand washing.

LOOK: Here Are 30 Foods That Are Poisonous to Dogs

To prepare yourself for a potential incident, always keep your vet's phone number handy, along with an after-hours clinic you can call in an emergency. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center also has a hotline you can call at (888) 426-4435 for advice.

Even with all of these resources, however, the best cure for food poisoning is preventing it in the first place. To give you an idea of what human foods can be dangerous, Stacker has put together a slideshow of 30 common foods to avoid. Take a look to see if there are any that surprise you.

Gallery Credit: Rachel Cavanaugh

Check out these 50 fascinating facts about dogs:

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