Veterinarians on Vancouver Island are encouraging residents to monitor their pets after several dogs were found to have necrotizing fasciitis, a rare flesh-eating disease.
The Central Island Veterinary Emergency Hospital (CIVEH) says dog owners shouldn’t panic but should be aware of the signs of the disease.
Necrotizing fasciitis (NF) can affect skin, underlying fat, and fascia – the connective tissue that surrounds muscles, according to the CIVEH.
The illness can infect a pet through punctures or skin infections, and it does not always seems like an obvious wound.
Pet owners should monitor their animals for pain, particularly in limbs, since it’s not always noticeable that a wound or swelling has occurred, according to CIVEH.
Some skin discolouration may occur, and animals with NF generally develop a fever, veterinarians say.
If it seems like your pet is in pain, CIVEH recommends that you take your dog to a vet.
“Necrotizing fasciitis is an uncommon disease in dogs but given the amount of cases we have seen recently, it is important that we, as pet owners (myself included) are vigilant,” said Dr. Nikolas Bell, medical director at CIVEH, in a statement Wednesday.
“Any patient with localized pain, swelling and a fever should have NF placed on their list of possible diagnoses however this does not mean that every patient with these symptoms has NF,” he said.
If your pet does develop NF, vets say they’ll need urgent and intensive therapy, as the disease can be fatal.
Treatment of NF is twofold, according to CIVEH. Vets will try to manage the disease – which sometimes requires surgeries to remove infected tissue – ranging from small extractions to amputations. Meanwhile, vets will also start supportive care to stabilize the animal.
Bell says there’s been no definitive link between any cases seen on Vancouver Island.