Mysterious Respiratory Illness in Dogs 2023: Advice to Protect the Dog You Love

The mysterious respiratory illness is highly contagious and is spreading through US states.

A mysterious respiratory illness in dogs in November 2023 is currently spreading through US states. As of December 20 2023, the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine reports cases in 17 states. The states are: California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. [1]

According to the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association, starting in August 2023, ‘the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) began receiving reports of an atypical canine infectious respiratory disease (CIRDC) circulating in the Portland metro and Willamette Valley areas. ODA received over 100 reports of illness meeting the criteria from veterinarians.’ [2]

Since that time, there have been over 200 cases reported in Oregon and sadly, some dogs have died.


Mysterious Respiratory Illness in Dogs: What are the Symptoms?

Mysterious Respiratory Illness in Dogs: Where is it coming from?

Mysterious Respiratory Illness in Dogs: What can you do to protect your dog?

Mysterious Respiratory Illness in Dogs: What is the same and different from CIRDC?

Mysterious Respiratory Illness in Dogs: Be Vigilant

Mysterious Respiratory Illness in Dogs: What are the Symptoms?

  • persistent cough
  • sneezing
  • nasal and eye discharge
  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite

The cough is persistent and can last several weeks. It apparently does not respond to regular antibiotics and consequently, dogs can struggle to breathe. In some cases, in as little as 24 to 36 hours, this can develop into a severe case of pneumonia. 

In Denver, after a surge in cases some dogs were put on oxygen.

CNN reports on November 20 that dogs with the mysterious disease show signs of other common upper respiratory diseases, ‘but generally don’t test positive for common respiratory diseases. And the disease is generally resistant to standard treatments, said Dr. David B. Needle, a pathologist at the New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and clinical associate professor at the University of New Hampshire.’ [3]

Mysterious Respiratory Illness in Dogs: Where is it coming from?

Doctor Lindsey Ganzer of North Springs Veterinary Referral Center warns ‘many cases stem from dogs that have been in boarding facilities, and doggy daycare. Doctor Ganzer goes onto say with the holidays coming up people may be more inclined to board their dogs and this could make the spread of the disease much worse. [4]

Mysterious Respiratory Illness in Dogs: What can you do to protect your dog?

Avoid boarding your dog!

Avoid boarding your dog. A solution (if you are going on vacation) could be to ask someone to dog sit instead.

If you can, keep your dog at home and avoid any places they may come in contact with other dogs, including dog parks and the groomer.

Keep away from areas where your dog is likely to come in contact with other dogs.

Avoid communal water bowls shared by multiple dogs.

Make sure your dog is up to date on vaccinations, especially those that protect against respiratory illnesses. Common vaccinations include canine influenza, Bordetella and parainfluenza.

“The best way to protect your animals is to ensure they are up to date on their vaccinations,” says Dr. Itle of the Washington State Department Of Agriculture. “By working together, we can stay ahead of any potential outbreaks and keep our furry companions healthy and happy.” [5]

Mysterious Respiratory Illness in Dogs: What is the same and different from CIRDC?

At this time of year dogs generally tend to get respiratory illnesses, such as Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC). CIRDC is spread by respiratory droplets and both viruses and bacteria can cause CIRDC. 

Symptoms of CIRDC are the same as the mysterious dog illness: coughing, sneezing, nasal and/or eye discharge, and lethargy. 

Like the reported cases of the mysterious dog illness, CIRDC cases more commonly occur in animals housed in settings such as shelters, boarding, or training facilities rather than in animals housed in private homes, especially those with limited access to other dogs.

Veterinarians treat cases according to the dog’s symptoms and severity of symptoms. Treatment may include antibiotics. Most dogs, especially those vaccinated against respiratory illness, experience a mild illness. The mysterious dog illness is reportedly not responding to antibiotic treatment. [6]

Mysterious Respiratory Illness in Dogs: Be Vigilant 

So it’s important for pet owners to take extra precautions.

Watch your dog closely and head to the vet if you notice any symptoms. [7]

Read more of our posts

Check out our post What Breed of Dog Has The Least Health Problems.


Is the mysterious respiratory illness similar to Kennel cough?

The symptoms are similar, with a cough, lethargy and some loss of appetite. But the mysterious respiratory disease can last much longer and in some cases, prove fatal.

What are the experts calling the illness?

Experts are now calling the illness ’atypical canine infectious respiratory disease complex’ (aCIRDC)

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