As I mentioned recently, we’re tracking anecdotal reports of increased respiratory disease activity in dogs in Ontario.  If you have observations or cases to contribute/report, please take a few minutes to fill out our short survey here:

Infectious respiratory disease is endemic in dogs everywhere, so there’s always some disease activity going on. Sometimes we see what are likely true outbreaks, caused by either by our usual suspects or by something we haven’t yet identified. Sometimes the “outbreaks” are actually just more attention being paid to the normal level of disease.

Usually infectious respiratory disease is self-limiting in dogs – they cough, have a runny nose and eyes and feel run down for a few days, and then they get over it on their own. It’s really just like people with the common cold. However, sometimes more severe disease can occur, and I’ve had what I’d consider a lot more reports of serious disease lately, so we’re trying to sort out what’s happening.

So far, there’s not much to report. Some of our preliminary case maps are below; the size of the dots corresponds to the number of cases reported from that area. At this point, most reported cases are in Toronto, but there are also more dogs and more people there, so we have to be cautious not to over-interpret that.

Most reported cases have also been in dogs not vaccinated against “kennel cough.”  Those vaccines only cover some of the potential agents of canine infectious respiratory disease complex (CIRDC), namely Bordetella bronchiseptica, +/- canine parainfluenza virus, so it’s hard to interpret that result with the limited information we have so far too.

Limited diagnostic testing has been performed, which isn’t surprising. Testing doesn’t usually influence care of the individual dog so most owners don’t want to pay for it, and we don’t actually recommend it as a standard tool (although it would potentially help us in situations like this).

More updates will follow if I get more reports.  Please fill out the survey if you have additional cases to contribute.

Key points for any concerned pet owners:

  • If your dog is sick, keep it at home.
  • Don’t let your dog interact with sick dogs. In particular, try to stay away from dogs that are coughing, or have runny eyes and a runny nose. (I know, that’s not easy in some situations.)
  • Consider “kennel cough” vaccination if your dog regularly encounters other dogs (talk to your veterinarian).
  • Preventing exposure at places like parks where your dog may encounter many other dogs of unknown health status is tough. If you’re concerned or your dog is at higher risk for complications (e.g. old, pre-existing respiratory or heart disease, brachycephalic breed like a bulldog), be more restrictive about your dog’s contact with other dogs, and talk to your veterinarian about the value of a “kennel cough” vaccine.