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Dog virus in Michigan leads to death of dozens of pups, causing panic amongst pet owners

Sick dog with head cradled in owners hands
(Image credit: Getty Images)

An unidentified dog virus in Michigan that has been sickening and killing dozens of dogs is causing concern amongst vets and animal control officers, leaving pet parents fearful for the safety of their canine companions. 

First appearing in northern Michigan a month ago, the virus, which is believed to have originated in Louisiana, appears to be similar to parvovirus, with symptoms including bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and lethargy.

Highly contagious and thought to target young dogs between six and 20 weeks, parvo is most often fatal, killing a dog within three to five days of them first showing symptoms. A trend that this current virus appears to be following.

“The state is in a panic right now,” Clare County Animal Control Director Rudi Hicks told the Clare County Cleaver (opens in new tab). “There’s no cure. There’s no vaccine because they haven’t identified it yet.”

All the dogs who have so far been killed by the virus have tested negative for parvo, meaning the state is currently unsure exactly what it is they’re dealing with. But Hicks is urging pet parents to keep their dogs at home and away from other pups until more information becomes available.

With more than 30 dogs having died so far in Clare County alone, Melissa FitzGerald, director of Otsego County Animal Shelter in Gaylord, Michigan, is suggesting that owners should get their pups vaccinated for parvo if they haven’t already done so as this may offer some protection against serious illness.

“It is a virus much like parvo, possibly a different strain,” she explains. The State vet's office is hoping to learn more and come up with a defense as we get more specimens. If you don’t know if your dog is properly vaccinated or you don’t know what properly vaccinated is, contact a veterinarian.”

Kathryn is a freelance writer who has spent the past two years dividing her writing time between her two great loves - pets and health and wellness. When she’s not busy crafting the perfect sentence for her features, buying guides and news pieces, she can be found hanging out with one very mischievous Cocker Spaniel, drinking copious amounts of Jasmine tea and attempting to set numerous world records for the longest ever FaceTime calls with her family back home in NZ.