BOZEMAN, Mont. - Veterinarians are urging dog owners to keep their pets away from dog parks, groomers and kennels, because they could be contagious with a life-threatening virus with symptoms similar to kennel cough.
Veterinarian Jarrod Moss, of Creekside Veterinary Hospital, says it holds true for dogs that are up-to-date on their vaccinations.
Kathy Quigley, the owner of Foothills Veterinary Hospital, says this is the worst outbreak she's seen in 17 years.
Moss tells NBC Montana his hospital has seen 150 cases of kennel cough this month. He says some cases that go untreated could turn into pneumonia. Moss confirmed there were at least 10 to 20 cases of pneumonia in July alone. Quigley says she knows of three dogs that have died during this outbreak.
Moss encourages owners to see a veterinarian immediately if they notice their dog coughing, rather than waiting it out.
"Let them evaluate your dog to make sure this isn't something more," Moss said. "Because this disease we're seeing right now is not getting better in two to three days -- it's progressing to serious, life-threatening pneumonia in two to three days."
Moss says if sickness does progress to pneumonia dogs are hospitalized and treated with intravenous fluids, antibiotics, breathing treatments and oxygen therapy. He says pneumonia, with treatment, could last for two to three weeks.
Loni Odenbeck, the co-owner of 360 Pet Medical, tells NBC Montana the majority of dogs have been fine, but 15 to 20 percent of cases have evolved into pneumonia. She says there's a potential for a new virus that doesn't have a name yet.
Quigley says clinics throughout the Bozeman area are sending samples to labs across the country for further testing. Odenbeck says it may be three to six months before veterinarians find out what the virus is.