Virus is sickening dogs and cats in Cleveland County

Local pet owners are cautioned to be on the lookout for a new respiratory illness affecting dogs and cats.
Local pet owners are cautioned to be on the lookout for a new respiratory illness affecting dogs and cats.

An unnamed, highly contagious respiratory virus is sickening dogs and cats around the county.

Local dog boarding facilities have had to deal with outbreaks, and Whiskers, Nails and Puppy Dog Tails in Shelby said they had to close down for about a week to do deep cleaning after it swept through the facility.

“As far as we’re aware we are not sure exactly the name for the virus,” said Melena Hope, manager of the grooming and boarding facility. “It is a respiratory virus going around amongst dogs and cats.”

She said the virus, which is like a mix of kennel cough and influenza, first made an appearance in the county around two months ago, and there have been at least 60 cases in Shelby and over 100 cases in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

“It is highly contagious,” Hope said. “The best thing for people to do is not take their animal into a public area where animals have been, like dog parks, or taking them into pet stores, we wouldn't recommend that. If people are around other animals out in public or go to a friend’s house who has animals, change your clothes or sanitize yourself before you come into contact with your animals.”

She said it is spread through the air by coughing or barking.

The business is taking precautions to prevent the spread.

“For us what we're doing is we have a different air ventilation system up front. If someone comes in for hair trim or nail trim, we do them in the car so they don't have to come in, and we’re sanitizing after every dog,” Hope said.

Local vets are treating it the same way they would kennel cough with the same medications, and it seems to be responding, she said.

“It does take a few weeks to get over it,” she said. “We have not seen any fatalities.”

Symptoms include a hoarse cough, lack of interest in eating, diarrhea, vomiting and a fever.

“Their whole demeanor will change a little bit, you can tell they don't feel good,” she said. “They mope around a little more and need extra loving.”

Since Whiskers, Nails and Puppy Dog Tails is a high volume facility, they chose to shut down for a week after an outbreak and did extra cleaning. They also limited the number of dogs they allowed into the facility.

This article originally appeared on The Shelby Star: A new respiratory illness is affecting local pets