the latest news on the canine respiratory disease

The Latest on the Canine Respiratory Disease

As a dog training center that houses clients’ dogs here at camp, and also a dog musher and the publisher of Mushing Magazine, I wanted to address the recent canine respiratory illness that is popping up around the country.

This is timely and the most up-to-date information for those taking their dogs to daycares, boarding facilities, and dog races. This information is the latest from Cornell University, a trusted source for our information regarding the latest news.


What is this illness?

A highly contagious upper respiratory infection in dogs has been occurring in certain parts of the country. So far, it has been found in the following:

  • Oregon
  • Colorado
  • Massachusetts
  • Rhode Island
  • New Hampshire

With symptoms like canine influenza, and kennel cough, the cause of the illness has not yet been determined.


Respiratory diseases spread through direct contact or water droplets from sneezing and coughing. In these states currently, and I reiterated just these states are currently affected at the time of this recording:

  • Avoid high-risk situations for your dogs, such as boarding kennels, dog parks, and doggy daycare facilities, if you are unsure about the health status of other dogs in the environment.
  • Don’t share dog bowls, toys, or doggy chews between dogs. Make sure your dog is up to date on their routine yearly vaccinations. You can check with your veterinarian if unsure when your dog was last routinely vaccinated.

What to watch for:

Common signs of canine respiratory illness;

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Labored breathing
  • Nose or eye discharge
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite

Where to find more information:

  • Please check back here periodically on the latest developments on the widespread canine respiratory illness. We are sourcing information from experts from across the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine regarding things to know to keep your dogs safe. 
  • The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory (USDA NVSL)

What is being done:

  • Additional diagnostics have been put into place at National Animal Health Laboratory Network, NAHLN, labs, of which the Cornell Animal Health Diagnostic Center (AHDC) is a part. Materials are being dispersed now for additional respiratory panel testing.
  • A resource on diagnostics that practitioners can consider can be found here. on our website
  • The AHDC Veterinary Support Services (VSS) team is available for diagnostic consultations with veterinarians and can arrange to have appropriate transport media or specimen collection containers overnighted when necessary. Please call (607) 253-3900 or email to reach a VSS veterinarian.
  • Practitioners presented with similar cases are encouraged to perform diagnostic testing immediately, during the acute phase of the disease, and prior to initiating treatment. Delaying diagnostics may result in negative test results, as the detection of some viruses may be inhibited by a rapid immune response, and antibiotic treatment may impede bacterial growth and detection.

Commonly Asked Questions:

Should I get my dog tested? Because there is no specific cause that has been identified except for commonly known pathogens isolated from chronic cases, more samples from acute cases are ideal for laboratories to determine the primary cause.

Recent media on the evolving cases:

From WXXI News, November 22, 2023:

Respiratory illness spreads among dogs in several states. Here’s what to do if your pup has symptoms.

“In our area, we’re not yet aware of a similar outbreak, but it’s something that we need to keep track of,” said Dr. Brian Collins, a senior lecturer at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca. “We do think that early testing and treatment are going to make a big difference in the outcome for these dogs,” he said.

From Newsday, November 21, 2023:

As mysterious dog illness spreads, Long Island canine owners, and vets keeping vigilant

Outbreaks of respiratory disease, especially at animal shelters or boarding facilities, are common, said Colin Parrish, professor of virology at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

“They call it kennel cough which is a catchall for different respiratory illnesses,” he said. “Most dogs have a mild disease and recover uneventfully. That’s why people are concerned. This is something new.”

From NBC News on November 21, 2023:

What to know about a mysterious dog respiratory illness.

It’s very unlikely that the cause will turn out to be viral, said Colin Parrish, a professor of virology at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University. “With the sequencing methods people use to look for unknown viruses, its signature would have been clear in a few days,” he added.

From the Huff Post on November 21, 2023:

A Potentially Fatal Illness Is Spreading Among Dogs. Here Are the Signs. 

“Respiratory tract infections tend to be very transmissible. They usually spread through direct contact — for example, when a dog licks or plays with other dogs — and by sharing toys or water bowls, Collins explained. Dogs can also spread diseases through respiratory droplets expelled through coughing and breathing, he added.”

There is a link on our website called:

What to know about the mystery illness that is killing dogs in the US. that was published on Scripps News, Nov. 13, 2023

Already in this episode, we have talked about what the illness is, and some of the latest news but let’s get a broader perspective. This illness did not pop up overnight, contrary to what most people think on social media, it has been around for over a year now, at the time of the recording of this podcast, from Cornell University dated November 28, 2022:

Common signs of canine respiratory illness:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Labored breathing
  • Nose or eye discharge
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite

In late June, a canine respiratory illness appeared in southern New Hampshire, originally resembling a condition known as kennel cough and then later showing similarities with pneumonia.

Dr. Karen Tinkham, veterinarian and owner of Milford Veterinary Hospital in Milford, New Hampshire, says the overall regional caseload peaked in August, but subsequent waves throughout the fall have shown that this illness is still an ongoing concern.

Tinkham is collaborating with researchers at the New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for more comprehensive testing. She hopes their findings can reveal enough about how this new respiratory disease works so that clinicians can respond more quickly and effectively in the future. While current treatment strategies are improving, some patients are coming back with rebound cases or showing lingering symptoms.

Dr. Brian Collins, extension associate for the Cornell Richard P. Riney Canine Health Center (RCHC), says it’s important to stay up-to-date with your dog’s vaccinations to keep their immune system strong. He adds, “Be extra careful with puppies and senior dogs who may already have weaker immune responses.”

In general, respiratory diseases like kennel cough and pneumonia spread through direct dog-to-dog contact, as well as through contact with air or objects exposed to water droplets created by coughing or sneezing. However, veterinarians do not understand exactly how this particular disease is spreading, or how much of New England has been affected during the last six months.

“The vast majority [of canine patients] go to daycare,” says Tinkham, “but we have had a couple of patients with no known dog exposure.”

Collins recommends keeping a close eye on your dog for any possible signs of this illness. He says it’s important to seek veterinary care early-on, rather than waiting to see if symptoms abate or worsen on their own.

Back on August 25th , 2022:

The Cornell Richard P. Riney Canine Health Center (RCHC) is aware of increasing evidence of a severe respiratory disease presenting in dogs, which resembles a combination of kennel cough and pneumonia. While the outbreak originated in New Hampshire, it may be spreading to other parts of New England.

Dr. Brian Collins, extension associate at the RCHC and senior lecturer of community animal practice, says it’s important to watch for new reports of canine respiratory disease in your area. 

He recommends that dog owners remain aware of the following situations that may increase your dog’s risk of contracting this disease:

  1. If your dog attends daycare, goes to a groomer, dog training classes, dog parks or is in other situations where there will be groups of dogs, be proactive in asking about any recent cases of respiratory disease.
  2. Respiratory diseases are spread through direct dog-to-dog contact or through exposure from water droplets created by coughing or sneezing. These droplets can also contaminate objects such as bowls and toys, and even human hands.
  3. If your dog is experiencing any signs of illness — including coughing, sneezing, labored breathing, or ocular or nasal discharge — and particularly if your dog is also lethargic or has a decreased appetite, be sure to contact your veterinarian. Do not expose your dog to other dogs until you are certain your dog is not contagious. 
  4. Keep your dog up-to-date on any vaccinations recommended by your veterinarian. Be especially careful if you have a puppy that is not yet fully vaccinated, or if you have a senior dog or one that may have a weakened immune system. 

So what do you think? Did you learn anything new about your new K9 buddy?

Before we end the show, let’s press pause for a sec…maybe ask yourself, why did this resonate with me? What aspect of my relationship with my K9 buddy could I apply this to? And what am I going to do differently this week to make my dog’s training a little easier? So, take time to mull it over, talk it out with a family member or trusted friend, put some ideas down in your training journal, and then check back next week for our next episode.

And, as always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this episode. So, reach out over on Twitter at firstpawmedia, and let’s spark a conversation. Until then, keep going! You are doing great! It is time to create the relationship with your dog that you always dreamed of.

Thanks for listening to Dog Works Radio. Find the show notes for this episode and all others at Alaska dog works (dot)com and don’t forget the freebee…We are offering our very own 100 dog training tips, just go to and get yours today.


We offer a FREE Discovery Call.

Click on the graphic to learn more