Illness known as canine infectious respiratory disease complex
LOS ANGELES -- A Southern California family is speaking out about how their beloved pet was diagnosed with a mysterious illness affecting dogs across the country -- and the "last-resort antibiotic" that "saved him."
The Oliver family said their golden retriever, Ike, quickly came down with a strange illness while on the road in September competing in dog shows.
Veterinarians initially didn't know what it was, and they were losing hope.
"They had given up, and (Ike) was starting to give up," Becky Oliver said.
They were able to transfer Ike to a hospital closer to their home in Fallbrook, California.
"When he got to Murrieta, at the vet there, they isolated him in a quarantine, behind glass," said John Oliver about Ike. "He couldn't go in the room with them; no other dogs were in there with him, so that's how contagious this is."
After multiple tests, they said Ike was infected with the mysterious dog respiratory illness known as canine infectious respiratory disease complex.
Dogs that catch it show symptoms like a cough, runny nose, sneezing and lack of energy.
The Los Angeles County Public Health Department said it's already learned of 10 cases in less than a week - and those are just cases that have been reported.
"Just in one clinic that I was at last week, we had three separate cases of young dogs getting very sick, progressively worse, and they ended up having to be euthanized, unfortunately," veterinarian Dr. Ross Bernstein said.
But in Ike's case, they found a solution.
After posting about what happened online, a stranger told them to try chloramphenicol.
Within hours, Ike was breathing better, and just a few days later, the 5-year-old golden retriever was able to go home.
"It's a very, very strong last-resort antibiotic, but it's what saved him," Oliver said. "Otherwise he would not be here."
As the illness spreads this holiday season, vets have this advice to keep pets safe: "Avoid places where there's lots of dogs that you don't know if they're vaccinated or not, whether they're healthy or not," Bernstein said. "So places like dog parks, boarding facilities, groomers, just places where you don't know the other dogs that your dog is going to be interacting with."