Texas not on list of states with ‘mystery dog illness,’ but health officials urge safety with holiday travel

CIBOLO, Texas – While Texas is not on the list of states affected by a “mystery dog illness,” health officials urge dog owners to be safe with an uptick in holiday traveling.

Amber Fritz, a partner lead at CityVet – Cibolo Crossing Veterinary Clinic, said this winter season, she’s seen an increase in calls with concern over a “mystery dog illness.”

“We have not seen it in Texas,” Fritz said.

As of mid-December, 16 states reported cases of a “mystery dog illness.” The cause of the respiratory illness is currently unknown, and in some cases, it has been fatal for dogs. The closest state with reported cases is Colorado. But veterinarians caution pet owners to be careful with expected travel as the end of the year nears.

“We always see an uptick because more dogs are in and more dogs are groomed before family comes, things like that,” Fritz said. “I always recommend if you can have someone watch your pets at home or a smaller group, you’re just less risk in general.”

The reported symptoms of this dog illness are similar to many sicknesses: coughing, sneezing, trouble breathing, lethargy, eye discharge, nose drip and a loss of hunger.

Fritz said pet owners should be cautious in Texas but not overly concerned. She said practicing safety measures with your pets can be helpful overall for their health if you plan on traveling or taking them to public parks.

“If your pet’s coughing, don’t take them to the dog park or don’t take them in to get their hair done,” Fritz said. “If you go and expose the sick dog to more dogs, there’s a chance that they could get another infection and that would look longer.”

A spokesperson for Animal Care Services in San Antonio said the group has been closely monitoring the mystery illness and has yet to see anything in South Central Texas.

In a statement, the spokesperson said, “At one of the biggest shelters in Texas, we would be sure to see it if it was in the community.”

But that spokesperson also urged owners to get their pets vaccinated.

“Unfortunately, we have such a low vaccination rate,” they said.

Fritz said getting a vaccine should usually be step one for pet owners; however, she also said monitoring symptoms is important.

“If they’re not wanting to eat and drink or have labored breathing, get them into your vet right away,” Fritz said.

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