Mysterious Dog Illness: What You Need to Know

Mysterious Dog Illness: What You Need to Know


In recent months, a mysterious respiratory illness has been affecting dogs across the country. It is being referred to as canine infectious respiratory disease complex (CIRDC).  Fourteen states have reported cases. This illness has kennel cough-like symptoms and has resulted in serious concerns among dog owners and veterinarians. Most dogs will have only a mild form of the illness and fully recover. However, understanding this illness and adopting best practices can help protect your furry companions. In this blog post, we will tell you what to look out for and provide recommendations for dog owners to follow.

What is Causing the Mysterious Dog Illness

Respiratory diseases are not uncommon in dogs. However, it appears that since the pandemic, veterinarians have seen clusters of respiratory diseases in dogs. This could be a result of dogs not having the same immunity due to less socialization. Although, the specific cause has not been identified, experts are working on figuring out what is causing this antibiotic-resistant illness.

Dogs can contract this illness through direct contact with infected dogs or by sharing contaminated objects such as toys, water bowls, or bedding.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of this illness can vary, but common indicators include coughing, sneezing, difficulty breathing, eye or nasal discharge, fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite.

Certain factors can increase a dog’s chance of getting sick:

  • Breed – Short nose breeds, like French Bulldogs
  • Age - Young pups or senior dogs
  • Health - Compromised immune systems or pre-existing respiratory or heart disease

If you notice symptoms in your dog, it is important to promptly seek veterinary care.

Best Practices for Dog Owners

  1. Vaccination: Ensure that your dog is up-to-date on vaccinations. Consult your veterinarian to determine the appropriate vaccines for your dog. Vaccination is a vital step in preventing or reducing the severity of illnesses.
  2. Hygiene Practices: Implement good hygiene practices to minimize the risk of infection. Clean and disinfect your dog's living areas regularly, including dog bedding, toys, and food/water bowls. Avoid crowded dog parks, boarding facilities, or daycare centers where the illness may spread easily.
  3. Isolation: If your dog shows symptoms of a respiratory illness or has been in contact with an infected dog, isolate them from other dogs to prevent further transmission. Consult your vet for guidance on how to effectively isolate your dog while still providing necessary care and attention.
  4. Limit Exposure: Avoid exposing your dog to potentially infected animals, particularly in situations where dogs congregate closely. Be cautious during periods when outbreaks of respiratory illnesses are reported in your local area.
  5. Regular Veterinary Check-ups: Regular check-ups with your veterinarian are essential for maintaining your dog's overall health and preventing or identifying illnesses early on.
  6. Stay informed: Here’s a link to the AVMA News:


The mysterious respiratory dog illness is a cause for concern among dog owners. By understanding the illness and following best practices, we can minimize the risk of our beloved pets getting sick. Vaccination, practicing good hygiene, limiting exposure, and scheduling regular veterinary check-ups are important steps towards protecting our furry friends.

Change your PawSheets often so your pup always has a fresh, clean dog bed.

Image: Isabela Kronemberger on Unsplash

Resources consulted:

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