A PSA for fellow dog parents out there: there is a mysterious respiratory illness sweeping the canine community. Cases in Colorado, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Rhode Island have led to a multi-state outreach among veterinarians to set up studies and share research. The as-yet-unnamed disease can have symptoms including but not limited to coughing, sneezing, nasal or eye discharge, and lethargy. Some cases are resistant to antibiotics, and there is also no standard for testing yet. Vets and researchers recommend keeping your pup up-to-date on all vaccines, and limiting contact with other dogs. More from AP News:

Veterinary laboratories in several states are investigating an unusual respiratory illness in dogs, and encouraging people to take basic precautions to keep their pets healthy as veterinarians try to pin down what’s making the animals sick.

Oregon, Colorado and New Hampshire are among the states that have seen cases of the illness, which has caused lasting respiratory disease and pneumonia and does not respond to antibiotics. Symptoms of respiratory illness in dogs include coughing, sneezing, nasal or eye discharge and lethargy. Some cases of the pneumonia progress quickly, making dogs very sick within 24 to 36 hours.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture has documented more than 200 cases of the disease since mid-August. It has encouraged pet owners to contact their vet if their dog is sick and told state veterinarians to report cases as soon as possible. The agency is working with state researchers and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory to find out what is causing the illnesses.

Dogs have died, said Kurt Williams, director of the Oregon Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Oregon State University. But without a clear way to define the disease or test for it, he said it’s hard to put a number on how many died from a severe form of the infection.

Williams had a simple message for dog owners: “Don’t panic.” He also said dog owners should make sure that their pets are up to date on vaccines, including those that protect against various respiratory illnesses.

Labs across the country have been sharing their findings as they try to pinpoint the culprit.

David Needle, senior veterinary pathologist at the University of New Hampshire’s New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, has been investigating the mysterious disease for almost a year.

His lab and colleagues at the university’s Hubbard Center for Genome Research have looked at samples from dogs in Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Massachusetts and more will be coming from Oregon, Colorado and possibly other states.

He said his team has not seen a large increase in dogs dying from the illness but still encourage pet owners to “decrease contact with other dogs.”

[From AP News]

So. It’s a mysterious illness. Vets don’t know yet what causes it, what treats it, or what its long-term effects are (aside from the worst outcome, death). And what does expert Kurt Williams have to say? “Dogs have died” and “don’t panic.” Not helping, Mr. Williams! CB says she had to stop taking her pooch to the dog park altogether because he was getting sick so often. Lucky for me (I guess) that My Girl, who’s eleven and three-quarters now, greets every young pup on the street who wants to play, with the same disaffected attitude of “What the f— am I supposed to do with this idiot?” Needless to say, we haven’t been to a dog park in a long, long time. But we have been to the vet and are up-to-date on all our vaccines. Science and isolation — My Girl and I can handle those directives.

Photos credit: Dominika Roseclay on Pexels, JC Gellidon, Matthew Henry and Bruno Cervera Azsk on Unsplash