Nov 26, 2013 5:32 PM by Maddie Garrett

Vets warn about new deadly dog disease and holiday health

A warning for pet owners: a new, dangerous disease is showing up in dogs across the country. It's called the Circovirus and it's typically found in pigs and poultry, never in dogs until now. In the most severe cases, dogs can die within a few days of catching the virus. It's raising concerns right as we approach the holiday season, when many people travel with their pets or board them in kennels.

Doug Johnson knows dogs, he runs Sunrise Kennels along with a doggie daycare and training facility with his family. When he heard about the Circovirus, he was concerned.

"Anytime you have a disease that's threatening to our personal pet it's concerning to anyone that is a pet lover," said Johnson.

It's also concerning to the state's top veterinarian, Dr. Kate Anderson with the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

"I certainly think it's something we need to watch for, we need to be aware of symptoms in dogs that maybe don't follow the normal patterns," she explained.

Dr. Anderson said those symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea, often times with blood in it. In severe cases, Circo can cause organ failure and death in a matter of days.

The problem is right now, there is no vaccine or cure for the disease in dogs.

"There's really a lot we don't know about the disease and how dogs process it, how it affects dogs per-say. So we really need to learn more before we know if a vaccine will be available," said Anderson.

Fortunately, Circo hasn't shown up in Colorado yet, but it's been reported in three other states: California, Michigan and Ohio.  Dr. Anderson added that Circo is not a threat to humans.

Johnson said this year he's being extra vigilant.

"Here in the kennels every day we go through the kennels, we're checking dogs as far as stools, checking the dogs in the way of what they look like, appearances, things like this to make sure the dogs are active, normal, not lethargic, not throwing up, no diarrhea," explained Johnson.

The experts warn while the Circo virus is alarming, it's no more of a threat than other illnesses, like the Flu or Parvo, that already affect dogs in Colorado.

If you do plan on boarding or traveling with your dog this holiday season, Anderson said you need to make sure they're up to date on vaccinations for things like rabies, distemper, parvo, influenza and kennel cough.

Many kennels require these shots at least a week before boarding. Vets say if you haven't gotten those vaccines already, it's too late for Thanksgiving and you should already be planning ahead for Christmas.



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