There is a mystery dog illness going around, and researchers have yet to identify the cause. Officials originally thought it was caused by a newly identified virus, called canine circovirus. But now researchers are saying that “The primary cause is not canine circovirus.”

This started with 3 dogs in the Cincinnati area which died and then a dozen more were sickened with a severe gastrointestinal illness. The symptoms include many that are seen with canine parvovirus, but all tests for parvovirus have come back negative. Some of the signs include: dehydration, nausea, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, extreme lethargy and neurological disorders.

The first news reports claimed the cause to be a new ‘emerging’ canine virus called circovirus. But in a study published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, there were both healthy and sick dogs testing positive for circovirus. In that study, of the 4 ill dogs with the ‘mystery’ illness, only one tested positive for circovirus.

The authors of a University of California Davis said: “circovirus, alone or in co-infection with other pathogens, might contribute to illness and death in dogs.”

So the real cause still remains a mystery, but officials are saying not to panic. The Ohio Department of Agriculture say there is no indication the illness is spreading.


So what should you do?

If your dog has severe vomiting or has diarrhea, contact your veterinarian. There are many potential causes of vomiting/diarrhea, but fortunately virtually all are treatable with IV fluids, and supportive veterinary care. The most common cause of severe bloody diarrhea and vomiting is from canine parvovirus, and this is primarily seen in unvaccinated puppies. I still advise giving all puppies 2 booster vaccines, at 8 and 12 weeks for Distemper and Parvovirus.

If your dog has mild vomiting/diarrhea, then you may be able to treat them at home. Here are a few suggestions.

Stop putting food into your pet for 24 hours (Day 1). This allows the intestines to rest and regenerate. Always have access to plenty of fresh water. After 24 hours, introduce a bland food for the next 24 hours (Day 2). Plain cooked white rice for dogs, feeding equivalent cups of rice as their normal diet. After a day of the bland food mix 1/2 regular diet and 1/2 bland diet (Day 3). By the end of Day 3, they should be back on their normal diet.

Drinking is important in vomiting pets, but in moderation. Do not let your dog lap up a huge bowl full of water all at once. Give it to them in smaller quantities spaced throughout the day. You can also offer ice cubes. This may encourage drinking in animals reluctant to drink. It is important to animal continues to drinking to avoid dehydration.

Peppermint Tea is an old remedy used for upset stomachs in people. Brew up a strong cup of tea, but allow it to cool before offering it. Give your dog 1/4 cup per 10 lbs of body weight three times daily, give your cat 1 tablespoon three times daily.

Sick Dog

Probiotics help restore the natural bacteria in the intestine, normalizing the intestinal immune system. The most effective supplement is Lactobacillus acidophilus – give 1/4 capsule per 10 lbs of body weight twice daily. I advise probiotics for all cases of diarrhea, but purchase them from a reputable source to ensure the probiotics are active.

One homeopathic in particular stands out as being especially useful for most cases of diarrhea in dogs. It is called Arsenicum Album, and is my preferred homeopathic remedy for dogs with ‘Garbage Gut‘. Dose: 1 30C tab per 20lbs every 2-4 hours.

No need to panic

At least not yet. It appears that this unknown virus is relatively non infectious as very few dogs have contracted the disease. Virtually all dogs that have contracted the disease have recovered with veterinary care. If your dog has severe vomiting, and or bloody diarrhea, then see your veterinarian ASAP. Fortunately with prompt veterinary care your dog will recover.

Check out Andrew’s blog and ask him your questions on the Pet Behavior Forum

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