Veterinarians across the country are scrambling to treat the rising number of dogs sick with a severe type of respiratory illness. At the same time, scientists are trying to figure out what’s causing the current outbreak, how widespread it is, and how many previously healthy pups have become seriously ill or died.

Maple was a happy, healthy 7-month-old Australian shepherd until last Saturday, when she began coughing. Her owner, Adrianna Deffenderfer of Fontana, California, became scared when the pup’s cough progressed quickly, keeping Deffenderfer up through the night.

“I was just holding her, trying to comfort her as best as I could,” said Deffenderfer, 23. “I could tell that she was scared, too.”

At the vet the next morning, the young dog was tested for various respiratory illnesses, all of which eventually came back negative.

“The vet called me and he said, basically because there’s no definitive proof of this illness yet, we don’t know really what’s causing it,” said Deffenderfer.


Maple was treated for bronchitis, given a nebulizer and a steroid shot, and had the secretions cleared from her lungs. She was also sent home with two different antibiotics.


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