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Tips to Keep Your Dogs Safe from a Mysterious New Respiratory Illness

Mysterious new respiratory illness is spreading in dogs


According to a recent National Geographic article, hundreds of dogs have been contracted with a mysterious and new respiratory illness (most likely caused by a bacterium closely related to Mycoplasma) that has spread across the U.S. in the last months; some dogs have died as a result. 

Different dog breeds have been affected by the illness, which shows symptoms that are similar to Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex or kennel cough. That new type is a very contagious respiratory disease, which affects the airways and lungs.1 Note, while the illness imitates kennel cough, its symptoms do not decrease with any kennel cough treatments. However, humans and other pets, e.g., cats are not believed to be at risk from the illness at the moment. 

So far, dogs experienced a mild, short-lived disease and could stay at home with thorough veterinarian guidance. Yet, if your dog stops eating, behaves in a lethargic way, shows frequent intense coughing with ocular/nasal discharges and sneezing, or has difficulties to breathe it should be examined by a veterinarian.1

How to Protect Your Dog:
There are several precautions you can take to keep your dog safe:

  • Stay Informed: First, check if there is an outbreak in your area. Keep yourself informed about the situation through reliable sources, such as veterinary authorities or reputable animal health organizations. Remember that information about outbreaks can change rapidly, and it is crucial to regularly check and follow the guidance of local veterinary authorities and health organizations. If there have been important developments in the situation, checking the latest news or contacting a veterinarian for updated information would be highly advisable.2–5
  • Contact your veterinarian: If there is a local outbreak, or you suspect your dog might be sick, contact your veterinarian immediately. They can provide guidance on symptoms, examination/testing, and treatment. It is particularly important that you communicate with your veterinarian before going to the animal clinic, so they can prepare to see your dog while taking steps to reduce the risk of exposing other dogs.
  • Isolation: If there is a respiratory illness spreading among dogs in your area, it is essential to isolate affected animals to prevent further transmission. Avoid contact with other dogs until the situation is under control.
  • Quarantine Measures: Follow any quarantine measures recommended by local veterinary authorities to contain the spread of the illness.
  • Public places: Avoid boarding your dog in an area with a high number of other dogs present, such as dog boarding kennels, dog areas/parks, dog schools, training/walking groups, groomers, and daycare centers etc.
  • Hygiene Practices: Practice good hygiene such as regular handwashing to prevent the potential transmission of the illness between various dogs or from dogs to humans.
  • Vaccinations: Ensure your dog's vaccinations are up to date. Vaccines can help prevent or mitigate the severity of certain respiratory illnesses. 2–5

Both the University of New Hampshire6 and Cornell7 are also providing regular updates about this respiratory illness on their websites.


1. A dog respiratory illness is spreading across the US: Graphics. [accessed 2023 Dec 18].

2. Mystery canine disease: A respiratory illness is spreading among dogs and baffling veterinarians. Here’s what owners can do | CNN. [accessed 2023 Dec 18].

3. For veterinarians: Information about mysterious respiratory illness in dogs » Small Animal Hospital » College of Veterinary Medicine » University of Florida. [accessed 2023 Dec 18].

4. For pet owners: Information about mysterious respiratory illness in dogs » College of Veterinary Medicine » University of Florida. [accessed 2023 Dec 18].

5. Bartels M. What’s Causing Mysterious Respiratory Illness in Dogs? Scientific American. [accessed 2023 Dec 18].

6. UNH Researchers Provide Major Clue in Mysterious Dog Illness Case. UNH Today. 2023 Nov 28 [accessed 2023 Dec 18].

7. Canine Respiratory Disease Advisory. Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. 2023 Dec 1 [accessed 2023 Dec 18].

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