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CLEVELAND - Local dog owners are paying closer attention to their four-legged friends after a deadly dog illness struck the Akron-Canton area this month.
"It sounds like it's something very serious, and we as dog owners should be more aware of it," said Bob Lieblein, a Lakewood dog owner.
"There's always going to be the next virus, always the next illness, it's just a matter of being more present," said Jennifer Taylor, a North Olmsted dog owner.
The circovirus already killed three dogs in the Cincinnati-area and sickened more than a dozen others earlier this month. The virus is commonly found in pigs.
"The dogs stop eating, they start vomiting, and then they develop bloody diarrhea," said Dr. Marcia Carothers, a veterinarian at the Metropolitan Veterinary Hospital in Akron.
Carothers said she doesn't think she's treated any dogs with the virus, but she says it's difficult to distinguish it from other illnesses.
"We're still in the learning phase as to what it is," she added.
The circovirus causes dogs to become ill very quickly. Within 12 hours, a dog can experience severe symptoms: a lack of interest in eating, vomiting, bloody diarrhea.
"In these cases that don't get aggressive treatment in the beginning, those dogs can die because of the shock effect of that disease," said Carothers.
IV fluids, Carothers added, are critical to a dog's survival.
"As a dog owner and companion animal, I'm concerned that they might come down with something that may not be treatable," said Lieblein.
If you have a dog with circovirus symptoms, you're encouraged to take it to a veterinary clinic or hospital as soon as possible.