Addressing the Mysterious Respiratory Illness Affecting Dogs

Posted on Wed 22 November 2023 in news


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Unraveling the Mystery: Insight into the Canine Respiratory Illness

As the festive season approaches, a shadow looms over the joyous times for pet owners. A mysterious respiratory illness is affecting dogs across at least 12 states, including Oregon, Colorado, and New Hampshire. The heart of this article lies in the valuable insights and guidance provided by Dr. Kelly Cairns, the Vice President of Medical Excellence and Education for Thrive Pet Healthcare and a board member of the Chicago Veterinary Medicine Association.

The Enigma of the Illness

Dr. Cairns highlights the perplexing nature of this illness. Despite extensive testing for common viruses and bacteria, the cause remains elusive. Most cases are proving negative for known pathogens, indicating a new or unidentified agent at work. The symptoms, as detailed by Dr. Cairns, are worrying: coughing, sneezing, and discharge from the eyes or nose, sometimes persisting for six to eight weeks.

At-Risk Groups and Complications

The illness, while typically mild to moderate, is not without its dangers. Dr. Cairns points out the risk of complications such as pneumonia, which in some cases can be fatal. Particularly vulnerable are juvenile and geriatric dogs, those with preexisting conditions, and flat-faced breeds like pugs, French bulldogs, and boxers.

Prevention and Caution

In this uncertain scenario, Dr. Cairns emphasizes prevention. She advises pet owners to keep their dogs up to date on vaccinations and to avoid places where dogs congregate, like dog parks, groomers, and boarding facilities, during the holiday season. She also stresses the importance of avoiding communal water bowls to prevent the spread of the illness.

The Bigger Picture

While Dr. Cairns' insights form the core of the article, it's important to recognize the collective efforts of the veterinary community. Other veterinarians like Dr. Amanda Schnitker and Dr. Erica Esser also share their concerns and observations, underscoring the seriousness of the situation.


As we navigate this mysterious illness, the guidance from experts like Dr. Kelly Cairns becomes invaluable. Her expertise not only sheds light on the nature and risks of the illness but also provides practical advice for prevention and care. In these troubling times, such informed voices are essential for the well-being of our beloved canine companions.