RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Triangle veterinarians are seeing an outbreak of respiratory illness in dogs, and some cases are turning serious — even life-threatening. 

Dr. Jared Conley, with Complete Pet Care Animal Hospital in Raleigh, said, at this point, the illnesses can’t all be traced to any one known cause. The dogs are not all coming from the same area, and similar illnesses have been seen in other parts of the country.

“We are seeing a lot of dogs starting off with very similar symptoms. Mild things in the beginning, a little bit of cough, a little bit of congestion,” Conley said. “What’s been really concerning is some of these dogs have gone from minimal symptoms, not sick, to really sick in a pretty short period of time.”

Conley said some dogs recover without antibiotics, but those sick enough to need them may need more than one kind.

“A lot of these dogs aren’t responding immediately to the first choice of antibiotics. Multiple doctors will pick different ones; none of the first rounds have been 100 percent effective,” he said. “Young, healthy dogs, two to seven years of age, have progressed into pneumonia requiring hospitalization, and some of the illnesses have been life-threatening.”

If your dog has a runny nose, congestion, or cough, Dr. Conley said it’s important to get to the vet and keep your dog away from other dogs. 

At Complete Pet Care, dogs with respiratory symptoms remain in the car for their appointments, so they don’t spread the illness inside the office. If they need care that requires being inside a vet’s office, they can be isolated, away from other dogs. 

Michael Ferguson, who walks his dog, Pearl, in Raleigh, hadn’t heard about any illnesses going around, but he said he’ll keep an eye out for anything unusual.

“Until you sort of know what it is, you want to be a little careful,” Ferguson said. “I don’t even know if they’re recommending not taking them to the dog park or things like that.”

Dr. Conley advises knowing where your dog is at all times and what he or she gets into.

“I do think it’s a good idea just to be aware of where your dog is going,” Dr. Conley said. “If you can avoid some of the social situations, try to do so.”