CORVALLIS, Ore. - After further evaluation, officials at Oregon State University say there is no apparent geographic connection that would link dogs that had recently become ill with visitation to the McDonald Forest area north of Corvallis, and the area remains open for public use as usual.

Veterinarians and researchers from the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine, Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, College of Forestry and Research Forests have examined these cases, following public reports that one or more dogs may have become ill after drinking from water in the area.

Upon closer examination of all cases, including communication with pet owners, they found no geographic link between the cases, no consistent symptoms of ill health and no way to attribute illnesses to any known toxin.

"After reviewing these cases, we could find no evidence that suggests something in McDonald Forest is posing a special risk to animals," said Jana Gordon, an assistant professor in the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine and expert in small animal internal medicine. "In light of that, the forest will remain open for public use and pets will continue to be welcome there."

OSU officials said that pet owners should continue to take ordinary precautions as they would anytime they bring pets into a forest or wildlife area. Pets are at risk of injury from falls, encounters with wildlife, or consuming unclean water, plants, animals and animal matter that may cause illness. Pets that aren't physically fit or have some medical conditions may also be more susceptible to exercise or heat-induced illness.

Routine precautions when visiting a forested or wild land area should include:

  • Pets should be kept on a leash and under supervision at all times;
  • Encounters between pets and other wildlife should be avoided;
  • Water should be carried in for the pets, or water purification systems used;
  • A veterinarian should be consulted if a pet has any medical conditions, exercise restrictions or other precautions;
  • A pet should be kept well-hydrated and cool when exercising in warm weather.

If a pet shows any signs of illness following outdoor activities, a veterinarian should be contacted immediately.

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Jana Gordon, 541-737-4808