A dog owner in Virginia fears her beloved Yorkshire Terrier has died from a mysterious illness racing through dogs across the country.
Brodie went from a slight cough to lungs so full of fluid that he could barely breathe and had to be put in an oxygen chamber, Ms Neighbors said.
So far, more than 200 dogs in Oregon have tested positive since mid-August, as well as dogs in Colorado, Illinois and New Hampshire.
But experts believe thousands are affected across the US because the illness is not being tested for.
Mitzi Neighbors thinks her dog, a two-year-old Yorkie called Brodie, died from the disease after kennel cough she contracted turned into pneumonia. He was at a boarding kennel while her family traveled out of town
Symptoms of the circulating infection include coughing, sneezing, eye or nose discharge and lethargy. Sometimes, the illness rapidly progresses to pneumonia, which can cause difficulty breathing and a loss of appetite
The symptoms are similar to kennel cough, an upper respiratory infection, but can last far longer, and in some cases, be fatal.
Last week, Ms Neighbors put her dog in kennels for four days in Roanoke, Virginia, while her family traveled out of town.
‘It’s a really nice boarding place,’ Ms Neighbors said. ‘They have people there 24/7, they cuddle with the dogs.’
When she brought Brodie home, she had a slight cough.
‘He was coughing a little but nothing unusual. It was a cough here, a cough there. That was it,’ she said. ‘By Monday, he was declining fast.’
The family took Brodie to a local veterinarian, who suspected he had a strong case of pneumonia brought on by kennel cough, which Brodie had been vaccinated against.
Brodie was put on antibiotics, but it did not help, so his family brought him to the emergency veterinary clinic.
‘They said his lungs were so full that all he had was one little pocket up in the top of one of his lungs left that was not full.
‘So, they put him in an oxygen chamber and tried to assist his breathing,’ Ms Neighbors said.
‘And the next morning [they] called and said that they’d done everything they could and there was nothing left to do. So he had to be put down.’
Virginia has not been deemed a hotspot for the respiratory infection, but dogs in other states, such as Indiana, New Hampshire and Georgia, have suffered similar symptoms.
Earlier this week, health officials urged dog owners to stay away from dog parks and avoid communal water bowls.
Veterinarians from Oregon added that pet owners should also get dogs vaccinated and steer clear of traveling.
They also advised steering clear of large meetings of unknown dogs, particularly if the dogs seem sick. This includes daycares, parks, groomers and boarding kennels.
Shared water bowls should also be avoided.
If your dog becomes sick, it should be taken to the vet. Symptoms of the circulating infection include coughing, sneezing, eye or nose discharge and lethargy.
Sometimes, the illness rapidly progresses to pneumonia, which can cause difficulty breathing and a loss of appetite.
The disease is spread through droplets in the air when dogs sneeze, cough or bark.
No cases have been reported of the disease passing over to humans.
Veterinarians have been unable to identify the illness as dogs are not testing positive for common respiratory diseases.
The disease is also resistant to typical treatments, such as antimicrobial drugs.