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Mysterious Respiratory Dog Illness: What to Know

Our dogs are an invaluable part of our families. And just like any other family member, they can get sick. There are many types of respiratory illnesses in dogs that are very similar to those in humans. However, a recent outbreak of a mystery respiratory illness in dogs has owners and veterinary experts concerned. 

It is important for dog owners to know about this new illness to be better equipped to deal with it. We had a fireside chat with Get Joy Advisor, DVM & Chief Medical Officer Brett Levitzke to learn about this new illness. Here’s what you need to know.

Prevalence of Mystery Dog Respiratory Illness

The recent dog respiratory illness was first noticed in August 2023 by the Oregon Department of Agriculture. They had received over 200 reports from veterinarians about an infectious canine respiratory illness that was similar to another illness called “kennel cough.” 

However, it wasn’t responding as well or at all to normal courses of antibiotic medications and lasted around 6-8 weeks rather than the typical 7-10 days. The new illness has since spread to around 14 states, resulting in more large-scale concern for dog owners. 

Symptoms of the New Respiratory Illness in Dogs

The symptoms of the new respiratory illness in dogs include: 

  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Wheezing or nasal whistling
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Dehydration
  • Fever
  • Exercising difficulty
  • Runny eyes or nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss

Experts are currently working on identifying the particular pathogen causing the new illness. Researchers at the University of New Hampshire’s Veterinary Diagnosis Laboratory and Hubbard Center for Genome Studies have identified a strange small bacterium that could potentially be the cause. Yet, they are unsure that this is the same bacteria making dogs sick nationwide. 

Should Dog Owners Be Worried?

It is easy to see why this new illness concerns dog owners nationwide. Fortunately, the number of dogs affected is still quite low, so there is no need for excessive worry at this point.

Currently, experts suggest remaining cautious and aware. There are some precautions owners can take to help protect their dogs, including:

  • Ensure your dog is current on all core and expanded vaccines, such as canine influenza, Bordetella, and parainfluenza. 
  • Avoid communal dog spaces, toys, water bowls, etc
  • Avoid playdates with unknown dogs, such as at parks
  • If you plan to board your dog for a period, consider changing these plans. 

If your dog is sick, it is recommended to keep them home as long as they are eating and drinking. Ideally, any virus will run its course, and the dog will recover. But if they are not drinking or eating, or the illness is severe, seek veterinary care. 

Improve Your Dog’s Health Through Proper Nutrition with Get Joy

It is important to stay informed about your dog’s health and address any immediate respiratory illness dogs can catch. But it's also essential to take care of your dog’s health from the bottom up with a nutritious diet. Many store-bought kibbles and foods contain processed ingredients and other fillers that dogs are not meant to consume.

This is exactly why Get Joy was started to begin a transformation in pet industry nutrition. By providing your dog with fresh food optimized for gut health, they can live healthier, better, and longer lives.