Call us today: (954) 567-2500
Call us today: (954) 567-2500

New and Mysterious Respiratory Illness in Dogs

Respiratory Illness in Dogs

Dogs across the country are becoming seriously ill and are even dying due to a new and mysterious respiratory illness. In order to safeguard your pet and do all you can to protect them from contracting this infection, take a few minutes to learn what we know about this puzzling condition.


There are a number of symptoms characteristic of what veterinarians have named Atypical Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (ACIRDC). These include the following:

  • An inflammation of the tubes that connect the throat to the lungs that is only minimally responsive to antibiotics or not responsive at all
  • Chronic pneumonia that is minimally or not responsive at all to antibiotics
  • Acute pneumonia that becomes severe within a 24 to 36-hour period, often leading to extreme illness or death

Due to the seriousness of this disease, is recommended that you contact your veterinarian immediately if your dog has a cough or other respiratory symptoms that will not go away.

Kennel Cough Vs. Acirdc

Kennel cough is caused by various viruses or by a bacteria called Bordetella bronchiseptica. By contrast, there are still many questions about what causes ACIRDC. However, both conditions present with similar symptoms in the beginning: a dry cough, sneezing and eye or nose discharge. The thing that separates standard kennel cough from ACIRDC is that the symptoms often do not resolve with medical treatment. Dogs infected with the new mysterious respiratory condition can become severely ill very quickly, often requiring expert treatment and even surgery. In some cases, the disease is fatal. As a result, it is imperative that your furry companion receives immediate care from a Fort Lauderdale animal hospital such as the Family Pet Medical Center.

Risk Factors

Unfortunately, all dogs are susceptible to ACIRDC. However, certain factors will elevate an animal’s risk of contracting the disease. These include the following:

  • Close contact with other dogs
  • Compromised immune system
  • Age (very young or very old)
  • Brachycephalic dogs like pugs and French bulldogs

What Causes Acirdc?

The jury is still out as to what this puzzling pathogen is and where it came from. However, researchers at the University of New Hampshire’s Veterinary Diagnosis Laboratory and Hubbard Center for Genome Studies have come up with some preliminary answers. They studied the genetic samples of 70 dogs from New England and identified what they describe as a “funky bacterium” that seems to be adept at eluding the canine immune system.

What still remains unclear is whether what is making dogs sick in the Northeast is the same disease that is causing problems elsewhere in the country. Consequently, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is collaborating with a number of animal health officials and diagnostic laboratories to gain more information in a wider sample of animals. The good news is that there have not been any reported instances of the illness in humans.

Where Can Acirdc Be Found?

Since the beginning of August 2023, the Oregon Agriculture Department has received more than 200 reports from veterinarians of dogs possibly infected with the mystery condition. Other states with possible infections include:

  • Colorado
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Pennsylvania
  • Washington

Possible cases have also been identified in other states, including North Carolina, Rhode Island and Virginia. It should be noted that diagnosing ACIRDC is difficult because there is not yet a test for the illness, and its symptoms are similar to canine influenza, kennel cough and other conditions.

Treating Respiratory Illness in Dogs

Traditionally, labs learn how to kill a specific type of bacteria by growing it in a petri dish and then exposing it to various antibiotics to see which one kills it the most effectively. The problem is that researchers are still not fully confident that they have narrowed down this particular dangerous pathogen. Nevertheless, they are reasonably sure that it is of a very small size, enabling it to travel unimpeded deep into canine lungs.

With each passing day, scientists are attempting to learn more about the causes and potential treatments for ACIRDC. As of now, however, doctors recommend that you take the following actions if you suspect your dog may be infected with this mysterious respiratory illness:

  • Enact prevention measures by keeping your dog’s vaccinations for kennel cough, parainfluenza and canine influenza up to date. Also, avoid contact with dogs that appear to be ill, including at dog parks or during boarding. Finally, measure your dog’s respiratory rate. Anything higher than 40 breaths per minute indicates that you need to see an emergency vet immediately.
  • Monitor their symptoms. If their dry cough and eye or nose discharge does not go away, don’t wait. Visit a Fort Lauderdale animal hospital such as the Family Pet Medical Center.

Why Call the Family Pet Medical Center?

The Family Pet Medical Center is a comprehensive emergency animal hospital and care facility committed to providing the animals of Fort Lauderdale and surrounding areas with 24/7 urgent care, wellness care, surgery, dental services, diagnostics, cardiology interventions and nutritional support. When a crisis happens, we will be there for you, your family and your furry companion every step of the way. Keep our contact information handy and call us anytime day or night at 954-567-2500.

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