Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease

You’ve probably been hearing about the respiratory diesease going around the dog community in the US. Basically a type of “dog flu”. I thought I’d share some more info, this time from Bird Rock Animal Hospital in La Jolla, with a curated list of some articles from it’s inception in 2022:

Recent media on the evolving cases:

An unknown respiratory illness is sickening dogs in the US, but ‘don’t panic.’ Popular Science, Nov. 29, 2023 “We really don’t want people to panic. Respiratory disease in dogs is nothing new,” Brian Collins, a veterinarian from the Richard P. Riney Canine Health Center at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, tells PopSci. “But there may be times when it seems like we’re seeing more disease than usual. We’re trying to keep a very open mind and are considering bacteria and viruses that we’re familiar with as well as novel ones.”

All About the Mystery Dog Respiratory Illness Affecting Canines Across the U.S., Prevention Magazine, Nov. 29, 2023 “Cases were first detected in Oregon, which has had more than 200 case reports, the AVMA says. However, other potential cases have been reported in CaliforniaColoradoGeorgia, and Florida, among other places. But Collins notes that it’s difficult to say if these are the same illness or different conditions. “Since we don’t really know what the cause of this is, we can’t necessarily say that all of the outbreaks around the country are from the same organism,” he says.

NPR speaks with Dr. Brian Collins about unusual respiratory illness in dogs. “Veterinarians are urging dog owners to watch for signs of a sometimes-fatal respiratory illness in their pets. It’s been reported in Connecticut and several other States talked Brian Collins of Cornell’s college of veterinary medicine says more lab testing needs to be done before it’s known if all the illnesses have the same cause for now. Collins says dogs coughing, lethargic or having trouble breathing should be seen by a vet because we do have a heightened awareness and concern right now around the country. We do think that early testing and treatment are going to make a big difference in the outcome for these dogs so far the illness has been reported in Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Oregon and Colorado.” NPR, Nov. 28, 2023

“Veterinary laboratories in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire are investigating in unusual respiratory illness in dogs. Dr. Brian Collins of Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine is urging dog owners to be aware of the symptoms. One of the hallmarks signs is coughing. Dogs may also show other clinical signs such as sneezing, difficulty breathing, discharge from the eyes or nose, decreased appetite. Collins says any dogs with those symptoms should be seen by a veterinarian. He also encourages people to keep their dogs up to date on vaccinations. More laboratory testing needs to be done before it’s clear if illnesses are all resulting from the same disease.” NPR, Nov.27, 2023Could a ‘funky’ pathogen be sickening dogs? Scientists search for clues “While it’s possible this is a new infectious agent, Dr. Colin Parrish says it may actually be multiple outbreaks with different causes, since dogs aren’t traveling as much as humans. Respiratory diseases in dogs, that’s commonplace,” says Parrish, a professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University (Baker Institute for Animal Health), but “they tend not to sort of show up in a lot of places in relatively close succession.” NPR/WSKG, Nov. 23, 2023Respiratory illness spreads among dogs in several states. Here’s what to do if your pup has symptoms. WXXI News, Nov. 22, 2023 “In our area, we’re not yet aware of a similar outbreak, but it’s something that we’re needing to keep track of,” said Dr. Brian Collins, a senior lecturer at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca. “We do think that early testing and treatment are going to make a big difference in the outcome for these dogs,” he said.As mysterious dog illness spreads, Long Island canine owners, vets keeping vigilant. Newsday, Nov. 21, 2023 Outbreaks of respiratory disease, especially at animal shelters or boarding facilities, are common, said Colin Parrish, professor of virology at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine’s department of microbiology and immunology. “They call it kennel cough which is a catchall for different respiratory illnesses,” he said. “Most dogs have a mild disease and recover uneventfully. That’s why people are concerned. This is something new.”What to know about a mysterious dog respiratory illness. NBC News, Nov. 21, 2023 “It’s very unlikely that the cause will turn out to be viral, said Colin Parrish, a professor of virology at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University. “With the sequencing methods people use to look for unknown viruses, its signature would have been clear in a few days,” he added.A Potentially Fatal Illness Is Spreading Among Dogs. Here Are the Signs. Huff Post. Nov. 21, 2023 “Respiratory tract infections tend to be very transmissible. They usually spread through direct contact — for example, when a dog licks or plays with other dogs — and by sharing toys or water bowls, Collins explained. Dogs can also spread diseases through respiratory droplets expelled through coughing and breathing, he added.”What to know about the mystery illness that is killing dogs in the US. Scripps News, Nov. 13, 2023


November 28, 2022:


Common signs of canine respiratory illness:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Labored breathing
  • Nose or eye discharge
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite
In late June, a canine respiratory illness appeared in southern New Hampshire, originally resembling a condition known as kennel cough and then later showing similarities with pneumonia.
Dr. Karen Tinkham, veterinarian and owner of Milford Veterinary Hospital in Milford, New Hampshire, says the overall regional caseload peaked in August, but subsequent waves throughout the fall have shown that this illness is still an ongoing concern.
Tinkham is collaborating with researchers at the New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for more comprehensive testing. She hopes their findings can reveal enough about how this new respiratory disease works so that clinicians can respond more quickly and effectively in the future. While current treatment strategies are improving, some patients are coming back with rebound cases or showing lingering symptoms.
Dr. Brian Collins, extension associate for the Cornell Richard P. Riney Canine Health Center (RCHC), says it’s important to stay up-to-date with your dog’s vaccinations to keep their immune system strong. He adds, “Be extra careful with puppies and senior dogs who may already have weaker immune responses.”
In general, respiratory diseases like kennel cough and pneumonia spread through direct dog-to-dog contact, as well as through contact with air or objects exposed to water droplets created by coughing or sneezing. However, veterinarians do not understand exactly how this particular disease is spreading, or how much of New England has been affected during the last six months.
“The vast majority [of canine patients] go to daycare,” says Tinkham, “but we have had a couple of patients with no known dog exposure.”
Collins recommends keeping a close eye on your dog for any possible signs of this illness. He says it’s important to seek veterinary care early-on, rather than waiting to see if symptoms abate or worsen on their own.

August 25, 2022:

The Cornell Richard P. Riney Canine Health Center (RCHC) is aware of increasing evidence of a severe respiratory disease presenting in dogs, which resembles a combination of kennel cough and pneumonia. While the outbreak originated in New Hampshire, it may be spreading to other parts of New England.
Dr. Brian Collins, extension associate at the RCHC and senior lecturer of community animal practice, says it’s important to watch for new reports of canine respiratory disease in your area.
He recommends that dog owners remain aware of the following situations that may increase your dog’s risk of contracting this disease:
  1. If your dog attends daycare, goes to a groomer, dog training classes, dog parks or is in other situations where there will be groups of dogs, be proactive in asking about any recent cases of respiratory disease.
  2. Respiratory diseases are spread through direct dog-to-dog contact or through exposure from water droplets created by coughing or sneezing. These droplets can also contaminate objects such as bowls and toys, and even human hands.
  3. If your dog is experiencing any signs of illness — including coughing, sneezing, labored breathing, or ocular or nasal discharge — and particularly if your dog is also lethargic or has a decreased appetite, be sure to contact your veterinarian. Do not expose your dog to other dogs until you are certain your dog is not contagious.
  4. Keep your dog up-to-date on any vaccinations recommended by your veterinarian. Be especially careful if you have a puppy that is not yet fully vaccinated, or if you have a senior dog or one that may have a weakened immune system.
Learn more about managing severe diseases in dogs, such as kennel coughparvovirus and leptospirosis.



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