Skip to main content

In the past few months, we have been hearing many reports of “an outbreak of respiratory disease in dogs in the US”.  On investigation, most of these reports are from local news agencies and on social media.  Until recently, the veterinary community has not had cause to address these concerns. 

What appears to be happening is media inflation of a normal state of canine infectious respiratory disease complex or CIRDC, that cycles on an annual basis.   

On Thursday, November 30, 2023, the pet insurance company, Trupanion, released a webinar to veterinarians and concerned dog owners. Canine Respiratory Illness Q&A with Trupanion was a discussion among four veterinary professionals.  A general trend with Trupanion shows a rise in insurance claims for respiratory related diseases through July with a decrease in claims filed going into fall and winter.  The cycle begins again as we enter spring and summer of a new year.  This is true for the last 3 years of reporting. These cases are not from any official government agency but from a record of insurance claim filings with one company.  It is possible that we are seeing more claims filed each year because more pet parents are purchasing pet insurance for their dogs each year. 

Dr. J. Scott Weese, one of the moderators of the Trupanion discussion, writes more on this in his blog, Worms and Germs.  His article, Respiratory disease in dogs sweeping across the US? Outbreak of disease or media attention, continues with the idea that we are seeing the media jump on a normal disease cycle in our dogs.  

As a privately owned general practice in West Fort Worth, we at Ridglea West Animal Hospital are inclined to agree with the idea of a media-driven outbreak.  Dr. Craig Verwers has not seen an uptick in respiratory diseases in dogs in recent months.  And for those that are diagnosed with a respiratory condition, he has been able to treat with traditional methods. 

Many people are wondering if they should take their dogs to the groomer or their boarding or day care facilities.  Best practice would dictate that these facilities should practice good sanitation on a routine basis. Therefore, if you are confident in their cleaning methods and if they screen their pets and refuse sick pets, the chances of your dog “picking up something” at the groomers or day care is no greater than it was in the past.  

If your dog does develop a CIRDC and you do visit your veterinarian, allow them to run lab tests to help determine the cause of the infection.  A complete blood count (CBC) can help to determine if the infection is viral, bacterial, or even if its allergy based.  If a bacterial infection is suspected, your veterinarian may ask to do a culture to determine the exact bacteria and what antibiotic will work best.  Follow your veterinarian’s vaccine protocol, especially if your dog goes nose to nose with other dogs in places like day care and dog parks.     

Our practice will continue to monitor the situation.  If there is a reason for increased concern, we will notify our pet parents on how to address these concerns.

Leave a Reply