RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- As pet owners travel with, or board their pets for the holidays, veterinarians are sounding the alarm after a mysterious respiratory illness is circulating among dogs nationwide.
"There are a lot of things that we don't know," Dr. Sara Waltz said.
Waltz is the medical director at Truss Vet in Cary. She said in just 24 hours, they have had eight cases of coughing dogs, including some that developed pneumonia.
"It doesn't mean that all of these dogs are the ones that have this mysterious disease, but in these ones that are progressing, we are being more aggressive about how we're treating them," Waltz said.
Researchers don't know yet what's causing the disease, but the disease symptoms closely resemble those seen in kennel cough, such as sneezing, coughing, nasal and ocular discharge.
However, the disease can drag on for weeks and seems unresponsive to normal treatments, unlike kennel cough, according to Truss Vet.
"With these cases, rather than being inclined to kind of watch, we really are encouraging owners to get their pet checked out because this is something that's been progressive quickly," Waltz said. "While their pet may look fine, what's happening is they're developing pneumonia very quickly. The sooner that we can intervene in those cases, the better the outcome can potentially be."
Tonja Poinsette said her dog Norea had symptoms like what's spreading in neighboring states before she made a full recovery.
"It sounded like she was clearing her throat all the time, coughing, like she was trying to hack up something and extremely lethargic," Poinsette said.
While most cases have not been life-threatening, some dogs can become sick with life-threatening pneumonia and in some cases, die.
Waltz said boarding is safe during the holidays but make sure to keep your pet up to date on vaccines and look out for symptoms.
"Make sure that you're talking to the boarding facility to make sure they've not had any recent outbreaks ... and see what they're doing to decontaminate and to protect patients from one another," Waltz said.