How a Family Credits Antibiotics for Saving Their Dog’s Life During a Mysterious Respiratory Illness

WATCH: Family says dog cured of mystery illness

As the number of cases of severe respiratory illness in dogs continues to escalate nationwide, one family is relating how an antibiotic saved their dog’s life.

Becky Oliver, a California resident, shared with “Good Morning America” that her family’s 5-year-old golden retriever, Ike, suddenly developed an alarmingly high fever in September while they were traveling to compete in dog shows.

“He didn’t show any symptoms in the beginning, maybe just an occasional cough,” Becky said to “GMA.” “When they checked his temperature at the emergency vet hospital in Arizona, they said it was 105.3. His color wasn’t good.”

At present, the unidentified illness that’s affecting dogs like Ike has been documented in numerous states, including Oregon, California, and Colorado.

While investigations are in progress, veterinarians state that the mystery illness is highly contagious and, in severe cases, can be fatal. Reported symptoms, so far, are typical of kennel cough, including coughing, sneezing, nasal and/or eye discharge, and lethargy.

Becky Oliver said Ike’s condition eventually advanced to pneumonia, which necessitated multiple days in a veterinary hospital.

Oliver Family

Ike began to fall sick in September while on the road competing in dog shows, according to his owners.

At one point, Becky Oliver mentioned that the medical team had expressed doubts that Ike would survive the illness.

MORE: Mystery dog illness continues to spread

She recounted that she found a glimmer of hope when she learned about an antibiotic called chloramphenicol, which was considered a potential treatment for the unknown illness.

“At first, the vet was hesitant, mentioning that it was an extremely potent antibiotic and more of a last-ditch effort,” she recollected. “But then, the internal medicine vet suggested we try it.”

According to Becky Oliver, Ike exhibited improvement just 12 hours after receiving the first dose of the medication. He was subsequently weaned off oxygen and discharged to return home the following week.

Becky Oliver’s husband, John Oliver, stated to “GMA” that their beloved dog is back to his normal self.

“He looks great… he’s jumping around,” John Oliver remarked. “We still can’t believe he’s still here.”

Oliver Family

Ike is a 5-year-old golden retriever.

Dr. Lindsey Ganzer, a veterinarian and the owner of the North Springs Veterinary Referral Center, described chloramphenicol as an “incredibly powerful antibiotic.”

Ganzer, who didn’t treat Ike, verified that the medication is typically utilized as a “last resort” option.

“That particular antibiotic is typically used as a last resort,” Ganzer told “GMA.” “It is one where, you know, if we give it to an owner to give to a dog, they have to handle it with gloves because people can’t really touch it.”

MORE: Vet shares symptoms of mystery respiratory illness in dogs, answers viewers’ questions

Ganzer indicates that dog owners should refrain from boarding their dogs or taking them to places with other dogs, at least for the time being.

“The most important thing is to avoid any areas where there are a lot of dogs. So, avoid boarding, doggie day care, the groomer, and dog parks,” Ganzer suggested.

Furthermore, Ganzer advised that if owners detect symptoms of the mystery illness in their pets, they should isolate their dog and seek medical assistance.

“We don’t know how it’s spread, whether it is direct contact or through the air. If your dog is symptomatic, definitely get seen by a veterinarian sooner rather than later,” Ganzer recommended. “The earlier the treatment starts, the better chance they have of not progressing and developing into pneumonia.”


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