There have been news articles circulating both locally and nationally reporting on canine respiratory illness. Recently, the San Diego Humane Society has reported a sudden increase in severe upper respiratory infections due to a combination of bacteria- streptococcus Zooepidemicus and Mycoplasma. Additionally, there have been batches of upper and lower respiratory system infections reported across multiple states ranging from Oregon to New Hampshire-- in these cases, the causative agent (bacteria, virus, fungal) is yet to be determined. 

At the Drake Center, we have maintained a pulse on the local and national reports to both stay aware of potential threats to our patients and stay alerted to the best course of action for affected pets. All affected pets have been dogs- these infections do not spread to cats, humans, or other pets in the household. Dogs with respiratory infections can present with a cough, nasal discharge, lethargy, and poor appetite. These infections spread through respiratory secretions and nose-to-nose contact between dogs. They are much more common in pets that are in crowded settings or in contact with many other dogs, such as in boarding/daycare or grooming facilities. Though throughout the spring and summer of 2023, we at The Drake Center did see upticks in more severe respiratory infections that we treated, closely monitored, and did our best to contact trace, we have not, as of late, been seeing these significant infections.

At the time of the increased incidences of infection, we contacted local boarding facilities and specialty centers and released updates and news reports for the public. We are remaining vigilant in screening and monitoring our patients. We do recommend that you keep your dog up to date on its vaccines, especially those that protect the respiratory system from infection- bordetella and influenza. If your dog has any symptoms- coughing, sneezing, poor appetite, and/or lethargy, please contact your veterinarian to have them seen. 

If it can be avoided, we do recommend avoiding high-volume areas for the next 2 weeks and possibly longer.

Hot Topic – Increase in Infectious Upper Respiratory infections in our area. We have seen approximately 20 cases in the past two months. Veterinarians refer to these types of diseases at CIRDC – Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex. We use this long name because there are quite a few different viruses and bacteria that can be part of the cause of the more current set of cases. It can be difficult and expensive to do individual testing on every case, so quite often, we may treat according to the dog's symptoms and severity of symptoms. There is testing available, and we prefer to do a test called a PCR, which can sometimes help us identify the causative agents.  

What are the symptoms of CIRDC (Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex)?

The dogs are presenting with cough, nasal discharge, and sometimes lethargy. Some of the cases are so mild they do not warrant any treatment, and some of the cases have been severe enough to warrant critical care for several days to support the dog through the illness. Most dogs are treated with antibiotics because bacteria can be a primary or secondary cause of infection, and we want to help avoid and or treat infections.

What can cause CIRDC in dogs?

These causes of CIRDC are easily transmitted by respiratory droplets in the air, so dogs who are in settings with other dogs may be exposed. The most common history of dogs with CIRDC is recent adoption from a shelter or recently at a boarding or training facility.

It is important to understand that there are 6 known viruses and 3 types of bacteria that can contribute to CIRDC. Getting your dog vaccinated not only lowers the risk of them falling ill, but it also decreases the likelihood of them developing a severe case of the disease or passing it on to other dogs.  

Can CIRDC be prevented? 

We recommend that all dogs who will be spending time in group settings be vaccinated for Bordetella and Canine Influenza. While this will not protect your dog from all types of CIRDC, it will greatly mitigate the risk. In addition, because we have seen an uptick in these cases recently, we recommend avoiding group dog settings when possible for a few weeks.

If you are unsure if your dog's vaccinations are current, your veterinarian can help.    

What is the treatment for CIRDC? 

The doctors and staff of the Drake Center have a protocol to deal with all potential cases, and we have not had any cases of transmission from our facility.  

"With thousands of dogs in our practice, most of which are vaccinated, this is probably why we only have 20 sick dogs showing up. The vaccines cover most of the infectious agents out there but not all of them, so keep your dogs vaccinated and healthy." ~Dr. Michele Drake