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Navigating the Canine Respiratory Mystery: What Pet Parents Need to Know

Being a pet parent right now is kind of stressful! There is lots of news about this new respiratory disease in dogs but it can be hard to figure out what it means for your own pups. Learn what you can do to keep your pup safe!

Pet parent hugging dog

Being a pet parent right now is kind of stressful! There is lots of news about this new respiratory disease in dogs but it can be hard to figure out what it means for your own pups.

The Basics

A seemingly new respiratory illness is emerging in dogs in over a dozen states across the US. It was first seen in Portland, Oregon earlier this summer. It has now been identified in California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. With holiday travel and the nature of respiratory infections, please stay alert even if you don’t live in one of those states, as it could spread.

Signs of this new disease look a lot like other common respiratory diseases: cough, runny nose, goopy eyes, fever, and generally not feeling great. In some dogs, these signs rapidly progress into full-blown pneumonia, which requires hospitalization and intensive care.

While the cause is still unknown, dogs that spend lots of time in communal settings like doggy daycare, boarding, or grooming seem to be at a higher risk of exposure. Respiratory diseases are spread through contact with droplets shed during coughing, sneezing, or shared water bowls. While it seems highly contagious between dogs it is unlikely it will spread from dogs to other species like cats or people.  

Why This Disease Is Different

Upper respiratory diseases, like in humans, are relatively common, but this new disease is presenting some fresh challenges. First, we aren’t sure yet what exactly is causing the disease. State and research labs are working on trying to identify it but as of yet, there has been no definitive answer. There are thoughts it could be a smaller than average bacteria that is good at evading the immune system, a new type of virus, or that the collective immunity of dogs went down during COVID and it isn’t new at all, just that our dogs haven’t been exposed to as many things lately.  

Secondly, most common respiratory illnesses last about a week. This new disease lasts much longer. Dogs are still coughing after 6-8 weeks. Unfortunately, our go-to antibiotic treatments have not been effective.

How To Protect Your Pets

The most important thing you can do for your pets is to try to limit exposure as much as you can. If possible, this means skipping doggy daycare, boarding, and the dog park. Do not let your dog drink from communal water bowls or share toys with dogs you don’t know. Wash your hands after interacting with other dogs.

Make sure your dogs are up to date on their vaccines, especially their Bordetella and influenza vaccines. It takes 2 weeks after vaccination for complete coverage to kick in.

If your dog is showing any signs of coughing, runny nose, or trouble breathing, please contact your vet immediately and keep your dog isolated from other dogs.

If you have further questions about how to protect your pup, our team of veterinary professionals is here to help 24/7!