Not uncommonly, I get questions about outbreaks of “kennel cough” (more formally known as canine infectious respiratory disease complex (CIRDC)). It’s not uncommon for us to see little outbreaks of this kind of respiratory illness in dogs, and we don’t have a good handle on the amount of “background” disease that’s always present in the community at large. So, it’s hard to interpret whether an “outbreak” is really an outbreak of disease versus an outbreak of awareness of disease, and to figure out much about true outbreaks.

In the past 24 hours, I’ve had a few calls about what seem to be fairly large outbreaks of respiratory disease in dogs in two different parts of Canada: southern Ontario and Calgary, Alberta.

I’ve tried different ways to investigate reports of CIRDC outbreaks in the past.  Getting reliable information is always a challenge, but we’re going to try again. This time, we’ve launched a very short survey that owners/veterinarians with dogs showing signs of infectious respiratory disease can complete. It asks a few basic questions, like location, date of onset of signs, whether the dog has been vaccinated for “kennel cough” and if a potential source of exposure to other sick dogs is known. I know the data will be really biased, so it’s not intended for for research use. It’s merely meant to identify changes in disease patterns, such as disease rates or potential point sources, that we can investigate further.

So, if anyone has (or is treating) a dog with suspected infectious respiratory disease, completing this short, anonymous survey may help us figure out what’s going on. While the recent reports are from Calgary and the Guelph area, anyone can participate.

The survey can be accessed using the link or the QR code below: