What to Do About the Dog Respiratory Illness Going Around

It’s been stealing headlines and worrying pet owners around the country: a mysterious dog respiratory illness that doesn’t respond as well to existing medications. In this blog, we’re talking about what this new “dog cough” is, what the symptoms look like, why it might be happening, and what you can do to protect your beloved pooch.


What is This New Respiratory Illness in Dogs, Anyway?


Well, it might look similar to kennel cough, sometimes making it harder to spot. Symptoms of this sickness in dogs can trigger coughing, sneezing, nose discharge, red and runny eyes, lethargy, labored breathing, and decreased appetite. Many of these symptoms are signs of something called “chronic tracheobronchitis,” which can last eight weeks or longer. While vets might call it by different names, one term being used for the illness is canine infectious respiratory disease complex (CIRDC).


What makes it different from kennel cough, then? One big distinction is the sharp rise in cases of pneumonia that happen as a result. For instance, in Colorado, there was a 50% increase in canine pneumonia cases between September and November this year, compared to the same time frame from last year.


Veterinarians don’t yet know if this is a completely new virus or perhaps a combination of bacteria, which is why treating dogs showing symptoms has proved challenging.


How Far Has It Spread?


As of right now, the dog respiratory illness has found its way to about 16 states: California, Florida, Georgia, New Hampshire, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Rhode Island, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Illinois, Idaho, Maryland, and Massachusetts.

What Dogs Are Most at Risk?


Indeed, some pups might be more susceptible to this novel respiratory illness than others. In particular, puppies who have not yet been vaccinated, older dogs with pre-existing conditions, and dogs with “smushed” faces (like pugs — who have a harder time breathing because of their anatomy) might be more at risk.



Pug sitting outside


Where Did it Come From?


This part is still a bit of a mystery, but there are a few theories. One is the decline in vaccination rates. Some research tells us that half of dog owners are hesitant to get their furry friends vaccinated. 


This could also be a post-pandemic repercussion. Because, for a long period of time, dogs were kept indoors at home, they were exposed to fewer bacteria and viruses that would’ve ultimately made their immune systems stronger. So, illnesses that maybe wouldn’t have been so threatening in the past are now a bigger deal.  


While it’s obviously concerning, many vets are cautioning dog owners to remain calm. In most cases, dogs are displaying short-term symptoms before making a full recovery.


What Should You Do if Your Dog Comes Down with the Respiratory Illness?


To maintain your pooch’s long-term health and prevent future issues, it’s vital that you keep them up to date on their vaccinations! If you’re not sure what your dog needs, call your vet for guidance.


If you want to be extra cautious (especially if they aren’t yet fully vaccinated), you should keep your pet away from strange dogs and especially out of dog parks, kennels, boarding, and doggy daycares. While these businesses often put precautions into place to keep their animals healthy (like requiring vaccination), there’s still an increased likelihood of diseases spreading.


You can also take steps at home to stop the spread of bacteria and keep your dog (and your family) safe. Keeping your home clean can go a long way. In particular, if you have a dog that sheds, vacuuming regularly and keeping them off the furniture can help minimize the spread of germs. 


If your dog spends a lot of time outside, wipe their paws when they come in and do what you can to keep their coat clean — through de-shedding, bathing, or even wiping them down with doggie wipes. Yes, your dog is bringing in a ton of germs from outside!



German shepherds playing outside


Leveraging Technology to Keep Your Home Clean


These are all a great start, but using an air purifier could be your best line of defense. It will run as needed, on its own, 24/7/365. An air purification system can grab the particles, big and small, that you miss or maybe can’t even see — including dog fur and dander. This technology can also help to get rid of dust and dust mites, which can also carry germs and bacteria throughout your home, contributing to the spread of disease.

Not all air purifiers are made equally. Look for one with multiple layers of defense, including a medical-grade HEPA 13 filter (the most powerful of its kind), an activated carbon filter, and pulses of UV-C light to help neutralize all of the germs it catches. A replaceable — not washable — filter is also vital. Washable filters are impossible to get clean and, in the process, you expose yourself to all of those nasty germs the filters caught.

The Sans air purifier monitors your air in real-time and runs as needed, alerting you of the quality of your air and also when it’s time to change the filter. If the full-size device is more than you need, the Sans Mini might be more your speed!

It’s not just about stopping the spread of this canine illness. As an added bonus of using an air purifier, you might also sleep better, get a break from your allergy symptoms (including pet allergies), and protect yourself against the threat of air pollution. An air purifier can also get rid of any odors that your dog leaves behind!

Getting Ahead of the Respiratory Illness Appearing in Dogs

Many of us are on high alert, particularly since the pandemic. But remember to remain calm and know that you can take steps to protect your pet! Ensure they’re getting their regular checkups and all of their vaccinations on the schedule that your vet gives you. Clean up after them at home to keep your family safe and healthy. Use an air purifier to truly cleanse the air you breathe and help decrease the risk that airborne pathogens can pose.

If you do these things, you’re tipping the odds in your favor of having a healthy family all year long.

Ready to take action? Learn more about our air purification technology and what makes Sans so unique.