Australian Shephard sitting on grey tiled floor with human injecting something into it's mouth with a syringe

Understanding the Latest Canine Respiratory Illness: Symptoms, Difference from Kennel Cough, and Precautions for Pet Parents


For several months, there has been chatter about a canine respiratory illness or virus that has emerged in the canine community, and many veterinarians have come forward urging pet parents to take basic precautions to keep their pets healthy as vets try to pinpoint the main cause of this sickness.

Many reports from states such as Oregon, Colorado, and New Hampshire are just a few of many states that have seen this lasting respiratory illness in canines and do not respond to any medication or antibiotics. Where the confusion begins is dogs aren’t testing positive for any common causes of respiratory illnesses that vets typically see, but have the same clinical signs, which make dogs incredibly sick within 24-36 hours.

This illness is incredibly similar to kennel cough, which is an upper respiratory infection. With this new illness, some cases last much longer and some may even be fatal. 

Don’t panic! Here is what you need to know:


What are the symptoms?

From what we know, the current symptoms of this illness include:

• Coughing
• Sneezing
• Nasal or eye discharge
• Lethargy
• Decreased appetite or anorexia
• Fever
• Blue or purple gums (in more severe cases, due to lack of oxygen)

      How can you tell if your dog has kennel cough or this respiratory illness? 

      Although not all infected dogs will present all these symptoms, it’s important for pet parents to know the difference between this respiratory illness and kennel cough. 

      Some dogs who do develop kennel cough share symptoms such as coughing, lack of appetite, fever, or lethargy and if it is indeed kennel cough, it typically will clear in about 1-3 weeks.

      With the latest respiratory illness or disease, veterinarians are reporting that dogs can have symptoms for 6 weeks or more. 

      What is the cause of the latest respiratory illness?

      The majority of these cases have been reported all over the states and the cause of this is still unclear. Many researchers and veterinarians are still running tests to learn more about this illness.

      It’s unclear how many dogs in total have been affected. 

      Should we be concerned in Canada?

      We recommend still being vigilant about where you’re taking your dog. Although the majority of the cases are presented in the United States, there is a possibility that Canada will be affected. We ask pet parents to be on the alert, though there have not been any reported cases in Canada. Stay as informed and prepared as possible! 

      Chihuahua at veterinary examination room, owner is holding Chihuahua, Chihuahua looks curious


      What should you do as a pet parent?

      All of us have gone through COVID, and we urge pet parents to practice the same precautions as they did previously. Here are just a few ways to reduce the risk of your dog being exposed:

      • Ensure that your dog’s annual respiratory disease vaccinations are up to date
      • Limit your dog’s time around high dog traffic areas and other dogs
      • Reduce time at daycare or boarding facilities (if possible)
      • Consider getting an in-home pet sitter 
      • Avoid dog parks and public areas
      • Avoid communal water bowls

            Golden Labrador standing on a vet table, being held by vet assistant. Vet is holding dog's head and examining him.

            If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms, don’t panic! Veterinarians have recommended isolating them in your home, calling your vet, and prioritizing getting them seen as soon as possible.


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