Protect Your Dog From Canine Respiratory Disease This Holiday Season


A mysterious new respiratory illness is affecting dogs in at least 14 states, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, which is asking vets to report cases while laboratories work to isolate the pathogen. Researchers are still attempting to determine if the disease, which can be fatal, is viral or bacterial, and whether it could be a variant of “kennel cough.”

The Clifton Times spoke to Dr. Abdalla Abdelaziz (Dr. Aziz) of Foster Animal Hospital here in Clifton to explain the risks for our pets, especially as we enter the holiday season.

We asked Dr. Aziz if he had seen any signs of this mystery illness here in Clifton, and he said that while he had not seen any cases of this new variant, he and his colleagues had seen a rise in cases of other respiratory illnesses, under the umbrella term of Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (“CIRDC” or “kennel cough”). Over the past couple of years there has been a surge in these diseases, which are highly contagious in dogs and can spread quickly in places where dogs are in close proximity like dog boarding facilities, dog parks, or at the groomer.

Aziz said that the symptoms of the new mystery respiratory illness that dog owners should be aware of include fever (over 102.5F), eye and nasal discharge, coughing, hiding, lethargy, and decreased appetite. If you notice that your dog is not acting like themselves and has some of these symptoms, it is important to get them to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

As Cliftonites prepare to travel this holiday season, Aziz advised that the best way to protect your pets from respiratory diseases is to make sure that your pet is up to date on all their vaccines, especially Bordetella bronchiseptica and Canine Influenza (“CI”). He told us that most respiratory diseases in dogs are related, so if a dog has been vaccinated against the known strains of Bordetella and CI, that dog will be protected against new strains as well, and even if infected, will have a milder case of the illness. He said that in addition, the more severe cases of disease occur when a dog has an existing infection, which predisposes them to secondary infections. Having several infections will further compromise the respiratory system, leading to more severe symptoms up to and including death. 

He also suggested that where possible, people should keep their dogs away from dog parks, dog boarding, and other spaces where dogs are in close proximity. He advises groomers and people boarding dogs to keep the dogs separated and to remember to keep cleaning equipment and food and water bowls, etc between uses with different dogs. If a dog is showing signs of illness, isolate that dog from your other pets, and take them to the vet for treatment.

The Clifton Times thanks Dr. Aziz and Foster Animal Hospital for their time and support in answering these questions for Clifton's dog owners.  As the holiday season approaches, remember to take precautions to protect your pets! 

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