Veterinarians Seek Answers for Mystery Dog Respiratory Illness

CANINE HEALTH ADVISORY: Experts say to exercise caution; early intervention is key

Update by the Santa Barbara County Animal Services
December 6, 2023

Veterinarians across the nation have reported an increase in respiratory infections among dogs, ranging from mild cases to severe, life-threatening pneumonia. In particular, a respiratory illness, currently labelled as “a typical Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC),” has recently raised questions about the existence of a new pathogen similar to other known respiratory illnesses in dogs, such as kennel cough and canine influenza.

According to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, symptoms of atypical CIRDC may include a cough that lasts for 3-8 weeks, which may be accompanied by eye or nasal discharge. As the condition progresses, the dog may develop a fever, have an increased respiratory rate, appear lethargic, and/or exhibit a loss of appetite. In some cases, this can ultimately progress to life-threatening pneumonia.

Experts encourage dog owners to be vigilant in taking the following precautions to keep their furry family members safe:

  • Make sure your dog is current on their vaccinations, including Bordetella, Distemper, and Canine Influenza
  • Minimize visits with other dogs, particularly if they exhibiting signs of illness
  • Utilize disinfectants effective against viruses and sanitize animal areas routinely

If your dog is exhibiting respiratory symptoms such as a cough or nasal discharge:

  • Isolate your dog from other dogs
  • Within 4 days of the first clinical signs, contact your veterinarian to inquire about having your dog tested
  • Contact your veterinarian immediately if your dog is having trouble breathing or a temperature over 105° Fahrenheit.

While much remains unknown about atypical CIRDC, the veterinary community urges pet parents to exercise caution and seek prompt veterinary attention if their pets show any signs of respiratory distress, lethargy, or other unusual symptoms.

Early detection and intervention are crucial in managing atypical CIRDC, and your veterinarian can provide valuable guidance on preventive measures and treatment options. Stay informed about updates from reliable veterinary sources, such as the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine at dogs, and follow recommended protocols to help safeguard the well-being of your furry companions.

By the edhat staff
December 2, 2023

In recent weeks, reports of a mysterious respiratory illness affecting dogs have left many dog owners concerned and on edge. Social media is flooded with distressing headlines and anecdotes of otherwise healthy pets falling ill, with symptoms ranging from a persistent cough to life-threatening complications. What’s even more troubling is that veterinarians are unable to pinpoint the cause of the illness, and traditional treatments seem to be ineffective.

According to experts, the list of states with suspected cases of this “mystery illness” has expanded to include most regions of the country. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued a statement on an investigation into the canine illness.

However, veterinarians who specialize in infectious diseases caution against panicking just yet. Dr. Jane Sykes, a professor at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, suggests that there could be a variety of different bugs and viruses causing diseases in different parts of the country. Without a robust surveillance system for infectious diseases in dogs, it is challenging to track and determine if there are any widespread patterns, according to NPR.

While the exact cause of the illness remains unknown, researchers in New Hampshire have identified a potentially relevant bacteria that could be connected to some cases. However, more investigations are needed to confirm if this bacterium is responsible for the illness.

Veterinarians across the country have observed a unifying symptom: a persistent cough that does not resolve as expected with typical cases of kennel cough. In severe instances, dogs develop life-threatening pneumonia, sometimes rapidly.

Tests conducted on sick dogs often come back negative, leading to speculation that a new pathogen may be causing the illness. However, negative results can occur for various reasons, such as inadequate sample collection or variations in the genetic sequence of known pathogens that make them undetectable.

Dr. Melissa Beyer, of South Des Moines Veterinary Center, explains that although they cannot identify the causes of the illness, they are not seeing high numbers of dogs dying from the unidentified illness. She suggests that dogs may be taking longer to recover rather than facing a new and deadly pathogen, reports NPR.

One possibility being explored is the idea of a “pathogen soup,” where combinations of co-occurring infections may be making dogs particularly sick and prolonging their recovery. The epidemiology of this illness is further complicated by the presence of existing respiratory diseases like Bordetella and canine respiratory coronavirus, along with outbreaks of canine flu.

In the absence of definitive answers, veterinarians recommend that dog owners take sensible precautions such as avoiding contact with sick dogs and ensuring their pets are up to date on vaccinations. While there is legitimate concern among some pet owners, experts advise assessing the risk based on the local situation and the individual dog’s health status.

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

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