Veterinarians are baffled by a mysterious respiratory disease that is spreading among dogs. Owners can take these actions.


Researchers are working to identify the cause of an infectious respiratory disease that affects dogs and, in rare instances, has been fatal from New Hampshire to Oregon.

In a news release on November 9, the Oregon Department of Agriculture referred to the enigmatic ailment as a “atypical canine infectious respiratory disease.” Lethargy, eye or nose discharge, coughing, and sneezing are some of the symptoms.

Since mid-August, more than 200 cases of the disease have been reported by Oregon veterinarians. There have been additional reports of cases in New Hampshire, Colorado, and Illinois.

Dr. Ryan Scholz of Oregon State Veterinary Clinic told the American Veterinary Medical Association that “common respiratory diagnostic testing has been largely negative, but based on the epidemiology of the cases reported at this point, the cases appear to share a viral etiology.”

To put it another way, dogs with the unknown illness exhibit symptoms akin to those of an upper respiratory illness but typically do not test positive for common respiratory illnesses. Additionally, the illness typically responds poorly to conventional therapies, according to Dr. David Needle, a clinical associate professor at the University of New Hampshire and pathologist at the New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

“Deaths do not appear to constitute a significant portion of the syndrome we are examining,” Needle said. The rare animals experience an acute pneumonia that can occasionally be fatal following a protracted chronic illness. “These seem to be possible signs of secondary infections.”

From where did the illness originate?

According to Needle, he is a member of a team that is gathering samples from nearby veterinary clinics and comparing the outcomes in an effort to identify the illness and identify shared DNA segments.

According to Needle, if the organism we have discovered is a pathogen, it is most likely host-adapted bacteria that has colonized dogs for a very long time. The bacteria may then have become virulent due to an evolutionary event like spontaneous mutation or acquiring a gene from an other source, he said.

In addition to samples from Oregon, he stated that samples for testing have been sent to Colorado, Illinois, and other states by researchers.

The director of the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory stated that the lab has also received reports of cases of an enigmatic dog illness.

The executive director of the laboratory and a professor at Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Kevin Snekvik, stated that there has been a rise in the number of dogs exhibiting symptoms of respiratory disease, such as fever, lethargy, and coughing, and that these symptoms have persisted for more than a few days.

Snekvik stated that although labs in other states have reported a few dog deaths, his Washington lab has not recorded any canine deaths from the mysterious illness.

Owners of dogs can do what?

The Oregon Veterinary Medical Association’s website states that, despite the potentially alarming news, “We suggest caution rather than worry.”

Even though this specific illness is uncommon, dog populations can experience periodic outbreaks of the Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC). According to the association, CIRDC, which is spread by respiratory droplets, has been linked to at least nine distinct bacteria and viruses as causes.

“Multiple bacterial or viral infections are frequent. Coughing, sneezing, eye and/or nasal discharge, and fatigue are some of the symptoms. In the event that your dog exhibits these signs, please get in touch with your vet.”

According to the association, dog owners can contribute to their pets’ health by making sure they are up to date on all vaccinations, including those for parainfluenza, bordetella, and canine influenza.

More pointers consist of:

  • Limiting interactions with a lot of unidentified dogs. The likelihood of your dog coming into contact with an infectious dog increases with the number of interactions they have, much like with other respiratory pathogens.
  • Limiting interactions with ill dogs. It may be difficult to tell, but keep your dog away from a dog that seems sick, such as one that is coughing or has runny eyes or nose.
  • Seek veterinary care and keep sick dogs at home.
  • Steer clear of dog bowls that are shared by several dogs.

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