Long Beach Animal Care Services issued an alert to dog owners about a potentially deadly canine respiratory illness that has so far has evaded both identification and treatment.

The alert said an increased number of dogs around the country and state have been diagnosed with acute respiratory infections ranging from mild and limiting activity to life-threatening pneumonia. Symptoms include prolonged sneezing and coughing that don’t respond to treatment of any type.

“The disease is reportedly nonresponsive to commonly prescribed antibiotics, and diagnostic testing is often negative for known canine pathogens,” the advisory reads.

It wasn’t clear whether any dogs had been diagnosed in Long Beach.

Officials said it is unknown whether the infections were caused by a new pathogen or one of the known causes of so-called “kennel cough,” the city said. It was possible, they said, that dogs contracted the illness from asymptomatic dogs after visiting a dog park, day care, dog show or boarding kennel.

The disease was initially reported a few months ago in Colorado. Cases also appeared in Oregon, California, Florida, New Hampshire and parts of Canada.

Researchers don’t know whether they’re dealing with a virus, a bacterium or a combination of both, nor can they identify any cause for the illness or relation between cases, according to the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association.

Andrew Cabrera, the head veterinarian at The Fix Project’s Parvo ICU, said that he hasn’t yet seen a case of the disease in this area nor have any of his colleagues, but he strongly advises people who live with dogs to take proper precautions and keep an eye out for symptoms.

“I would emphasize that the community [should] vaccinate their pets, especially if the pets have an active lifestyle or social life — more if they have a chronic disease,” Cabrera said. “Highest-risk pets are those that are old, very young, have concurrent diseases and are unvaccinated. The risk is greater if they come into contact with many other animals regularly.”

Some viruses survive in dirt, Cabrera said, so wiping paws with baby wipes or pet wipes after a walk or an outing is advised. If you’re planning to travel with your dog, particularly to one of the areas where the disease has spiked, take particular care.

LBACS recommends the following steps to safeguard your dog’s health:

  • Keep dogs with respiratory symptoms away from other dogs, and keep yours away from dogs presenting symptoms.
  • Visit your veterinarian if your dog shows respiratory-distress symptoms such as excessive sneezing or coughing.
  • Keep your dog’s vaccinations current for DHPP (distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus and parainfluenza) and CIRDC.
  • Minimize interaction with other dogs including in boarding facilities, kennels, dog parks and dog shows.
  • Consider an in-home pet care giver when traveling.

Questions about your dog’s safety can be emailed to LBACS at [email protected]. You can also call 562-570-7387.