Violent illness killing Cincinnati dogs; State warns owners to watch for symptoms

NORWOOD, Ohio - After at least three dogs in southwest Ohio died from a violent illness, the Ohio Department of Agriculture is urging owners to monitor their dogs closely for warning signs.

The dead dogs had bloody diarrhea and violent vomiting, said ODA spokesperson Erica Hawkins. She said owners who see those symptoms should take their dogs to the vet immediately.

Tests are being conducted to determine the illness, Hawkins said.

The Pet Spot in Norwood in Hamilton County temporarily shut down its doggie daycare Friday after four dogs it handles became ill, owner Jeff Voepel said on The Pet Spot's Facebook page.

There may be more cases, Hawkins said.

"We've had three deaths referred to us, but we've heard reports of other dogs as well," Hawkins said.

The symptoms could indicate a severe illness known as HGH (hemorrhagic gastroenteritis).

"What's amazing about this condition is that these animals are normal one day and the next day they're extremely sick," said Michael Della Ripa, internist at MedVet Cincinnati.

Dogs with HGH can be saved as long as they get aggressive, immediate attention, beginning with intravenous fluids.

"It's important for dogs with any stomach illness to keep them hydrated," Hawkins said.

HGH is not contagious, but it's cause is unknown, according to veterinarian Janet Tobiassen Crosby.

Some Facebook posters are wondering if there's a connection between P&G's pet food recall this week and local dog deaths and illnesses. P&G said some specific lots of Eukanuba and IAMS dry dog foods might be contaminated with salmonella, which can cause bloody diarrhea and vomiting.

"We've heard reports of that as well," Hawkins said. "We'll be able to tell better when we get the test results."

Voepel posted this message on The Pet Spot's Facebook page:

"In light of the recent stomach illnesses that we have experienced at The Pet Spot, the fact that a fourth dog has just been diagnosed with the illness, we have decided to close daycare from Friday August 16th through Monday August 19th. We plan to re-open on Tuesday August 20th once the treating veterinarians are able to get test results, identify this perplexing and currently unidentifiable illness, and we are able to ensure we have been able to take every possible precaution to ensure no more of our beloved pets could be put at risk.

"Our boarding and grooming services will continue to operate as usual. We are able to ensure that these dogs do not come in direct contact with each other and can take steps to ensure that, if this illness is contagious, they will not have the opportunity to pass the illness on. "

Voepel's customers posted supportive messages on Facebook. See them at https://www.facebook.com/thepetspotcincinnati

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