How to Avoid Respiratory Illness in Dogs

by | Feb 20, 2024 | Aggie Life, Animal Science, Spring 2024

Canine infectious respiratory disease complex, or CIRDC, has been spreading across the country in recent months as transmission rates increase with the rise of dog ownership and boarding. Reports cited a mysterious new illness in several states that could even lead to death. According to Jane Sykes, professor of small animal medicine at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, the respiratory disease is not actually new, as 17 known viruses and bacteria are capable of causing respiratory illness in dogs. Here are some signs of illness and precautions you should take with your dog.  

Symptoms can vary

  • Harsh, honk-sounding cough that ends in a retch-like noise, similar to vomiting
  • Runny eyes and nose, with otherwise good energy and appetite  
  • Soft cough with fever, lethargy and low appetite if pneumonia develops 

What should you do if you suspect CIRDC? 

Keep your dog away from other dogs, and bring them to the veterinarian if they are lethargic or have a loss of appetite. If your dog lacks those additional symptoms, let your dog rest and heal at home. “If there has been no chance of exposure to other dogs, then you should see your veterinarian because there are many other causes of cough in dogs, some of which can be serious and life-threatening,” Sykes said.  

How to avoid CIRDC

Vaccines are available for some of the CIRDC organisms, so healthy dogs should be vaccinated, especially at least one week before boarding. “Vaccinating against some bacteria and viruses in the complex can protect against the complex as a whole, because infections with one bug in the complex can predispose to infection with other bugs, increasing the likelihood of illness,” Sykes said. And if you are adopting a new dog, make sure to keep them away from other dogs for two weeks, as signs can take time to manifest.