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Unknown Respiratory Illness in Dogs: What You Need to Know

November 22, 2023

In certain states of the United States, dogs have been infected by an unidentified respiratory illness. The specific cause of this illness remains unknown. While there appears to be a viral connection among these cases, most standard respiratory diagnostic tests have yielded negative results. A small number of cases have tested positive for Mycoplasma cynos (M. cynos), a bacterium associated with canine respiratory diseases, but it is believed not to be the fundamental cause of the illness.


If you suspect that your dog may be affected, it is important to be aware of certain symptoms. These symptoms include a persistent mild to moderate cough lasting for at least six to eight weeks, as well as the rapid deterioration of chronic or acute pneumonia, leading to severe consequences within 24 to 36 hours. Most cases show minimal or no response to antibiotics.


In general, if your dog exhibits symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, nasal and/or eye discharge, and lethargy, it is advised to contact a veterinarian. Dog owners are encouraged to consult with a vet regarding appropriate vaccinations for their pets, including those targeting canine influenza, Bordetella, and parainfluenza.


To minimize the risk of infection, veterinarians recommend reducing contact between dogs and avoiding close proximity to visibly sick dogs. The more interactions your dog has with other dogs, the higher the risk of encountering an infectious dog, similar to other respiratory pathogens.