Mysterious Dog Respiratory Illness: How to Keep Your Dog Safe

Wednesday, November 22, 2023 16:25:52 PM America/Los_Angeles

With reports surfacing about a new and mysterious illness affecting dogs, the canine community is on high alert. Termed "Atypical Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease" by veterinarians, this respiratory ailment starts with a simple cough but can escalate to pneumonia and, in severe cases, prove fatal. The lack of clarity on the cause and transmission method of this illness has left both pet owners and veterinarians searching for answers. 

Photo by Ryan Stone

What exactly is Atypical Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease? 

This respiratory illness initiates with a cough but has the potential to advance to pneumonia, and in critical cases, result in fatality. Given the lingering uncertainty about the precise cause and method of transmission for this ailment, veterinarians are doing everything they can to find out the cause and find a cure. As it stands, crucial details about the origins and spread of Atypical Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease are yet to be fully understood, heightening the urgency for comprehensive research and awareness within the veterinary community. The mysterious dog illness has spread across several states, with over 200 reported cases in Oregon alone since mid-August. Other states confirming cases include Colorado, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Illinois, Maryland, and Wyoming. This widespread outbreak emphasizes the need for a coordinated, nationwide effort to understand and address the root causes.

Identifying Symptoms of the Illness

The foremost indicator is a persistent cough, and it's crucial to note that this can be misleading, often resembling the more familiar kennel cough. Insights from Dr. Mike Dyer, a veterinarian with Proctorville Animal Clinic based in Proctorville, Ohio, suggest that “the cough is the hallmark sign ... if it’s persistent, and it’s going to last more than a day, then it might be time to consult with your veterinarian. We want to catch these things early.”¹

Preventative Measures

As uncertainties loom, pet owners are seeking practical ways to safeguard their pups. According to a New York Times interview with Dr. Stephen Kochis, the chief medical officer for the Oregon Humane Society, he says “if your dog is showing signs of respiratory disease, isolate them in the home, call your vet, get them seen.”² This means that areas where dogs are in close proximity, such as public places like dog kennels, daycares, and parks should be avoided, especially if your pup may be infected. For those concerned about taking their dog for walks in crowded neighborhoods, a dog bathroom that you can keep in your home may be helpful if you don’t have a backyard. Something like Bark Potty, which is made of real tree bark, may be a good option as it has the outdoorsy smells that dogs are used to. Bark Potty neutralizes odors so it can be kept in your home or on your balcony. 

When Will We Have Answers?

As cases continue to emerge, a collaborative effort between pet owners, veterinarians, and health authorities is essential. Genetic sequencing has identified an unusual bacterium, but its role in the nationwide affliction remains uncertain. A definitive answer or cure is not yet available. Staying informed about symptoms, transmission risks, and geographical spread is crucial for making informed decisions for the well-being of our four-legged friends. Overcoming this challenge requires collective vigilance and a commitment to the health and safety of our canine companions. 


¹Keagy, Kimberly. “Mysterious Respiratory Dog Illness Detected in Several States: What Pet Owners Need to Know.” Https://Www.Wsaz.Com, 22 Nov. 2023,

²Carballo, Rebecca. “What to Know about the Mysterious Respiratory Illness Affecting Dogs.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 22 Nov. 2023,
TAGS: dog diseases