Marie Heckemeyer had ample grounds to think that her canine companion was on the mend. Thunder, her cherished Siberian husky of six years, had returned to his lively antics—digging holes, bounding around the house, engaging in play, and eagerly seeking affectionate back scratches.
Following his stay at a boarding camp during Heckemeyer and her husband’s 20th wedding anniversary trip to Italy, Thunder became unwell. After approximately two weeks of medical care, accompanied by a veterinary expense exceeding $16,900, his cough appeared to have subsided.
However, just one hour into his playtime, Thunder found himself once again in the emergency room, struggling with respiratory distress. Shortly thereafter, Heckemeyer and her spouse, residents of Colorado, were summoned by the veterinarian to bid their farewells.
Thunder, who passed away on November 6th, is among the numerous dogs in at least five U.S. states—Colorado, Rhode Island, Oregon, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts—suspected to have acquired an enigmatic respiratory ailment that experts are working urgently to comprehend.
Limited information is available regarding the ailment, yet veterinarians note that it typically initiates with a persistent cough that can endure for weeks. Subsequently, it advances to pneumonia, observable through X-rays, and leads to pronounced respiratory difficulties.
Typically, the illness seems unresponsive to antibiotic treatment, and in severe instances of pneumonia, adverse results become evident in as little as 24 to 36 hours. This information is provided by the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association, which has received over 200 reports of possible cases.
“We don’t know what’s causing it, and we can’t say definitively how it’s being transmitted. We just don’t know enough right now,” said Lindsey Ganzer, a veterinarian from North Springs Veterinary Referral Center in Colorado.
None of the dogs seem to have fully recuperated at this point. The treatment strategy thus far involves conducting tests to eliminate the possibility of common viruses and infections, providing additional oxygen, and administering a combination of antibiotics. Although this approach may assist with secondary infections, there is skepticism about whether it effectively addresses the underlying cause.
Based on her observations, symptoms encompass fever, cough, diminished appetite, discharge from the eyes and nose, sneezing, and respiratory challenges. Initially, most cases resemble kennel cough, a prevalent and usually manageable ailment, according to her assessment.