Montana Public Radio

Cause Of Statewide Canine Respiratory Disease Still Unknown

Aug 11, 2017

The Department of Livestock and local veterinarians are monitoring an outbreak of severe canine respiratory disease in Montana.

Veterinarians in Bozeman, Livingston, Billings, Butte, Big Timber, Roundup and Red Lodge have reported seeing dogs with coughing, difficulty breathing and fever.

Assistant State Veterinarian Tahnee Szymanski said today the symptoms are similar to kennel cough, but the vaccine for kennel cough is not protecting the dogs.

“Unfortunately we just haven’t been able to exactly pinpoint what the cause of the infection is, which is frustrating,” she says.

Dogs with more critical infections have developed pneumonia.

“A lot of these dogs have required antibiotics to get over these infections,” Szymanski says.

Canine influenza is suspected, but more testing is needed to confirm that. A small number of dogs have died and young animals seem particularly sensitive.

“Whether they’re coughing or sneezing or sharing a water bowl, um, you know, putting that out in the environment and then being in close contact with other dogs, is going to allow for the transfer of disease between animals,” Szymanski says.

In the meantime, the Department of Livestock recommends pet owners limit their dog's contact with other pets in the community.

And humans are not to worry about their health if they’re near a coughing pup – Szymanski says, there’s no evidence at this time that this particular respiratory disease is transferrable to humans.