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Unknown Canine Respiratory Disease

Last updated December 19, 2023

The Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) has been receiving calls over the past two months from practicing veterinarians reporting an elevated number of canine respiratory disease cases in the state. Other states, including Oregon, Florida, and New Hampshire, are seeing a similar pattern at this time.

Has Foothills seen increased cases of an unknown respiratory disease in dogs?

Foothills Animal Shelter did see a higher-than-usual number of pneumonia cases during the summer and fall, though our overall caseload of respiratory illness did not appear to significantly increase this year. The cases of pneumonia we treated responded well to additional antibiotics and supportive care, and all dogs treated at the Shelter recovered.

We do not know if any of these animals had a new respiratory illness, or if they had CIRD (canine infectious respiratory disease complex, also known as “kennel cough”) that progressed to pneumonia. Our testing showed only the usual organisms involved in CIRD.

Is it safe for me to bring my dog to your weekly low-cost Vaccine Clinic?

Vaccinations are incredibly important for protecting the health of our pets. We recommend that patrons and pets attending our weekly low-cost Vaccine Clinic maintain ample distance between themselves and other patrons to avoid nose-to-nose contact between unfamiliar dogs. Our Vaccine Clinic check-in and waiting space is outdoors, which helps reduce the risk of spread of respiratory illness compared to crowded indoor spaces. Any situation involving many dogs congregating could carry some risk. However, we feel that with appropriate precautions, the benefits of vaccination to the health and well-being of pets in the community outweigh these risks.


How can I protect my pet?

Outbreaks of canine infectious respiratory disease are not uncommon and happen from time-to-time in the dog population. There are a number of different pathogens that can cause respiratory disease in dogs that are primarily transmitted through the air by respiratory droplets when dogs breathe and especially when they cough.

Symptoms can include coughing, difficulty breathing, sneezing, nasal and/or eye discharge, and lethargy.  

Here are a few things you can do to protect your pet:

Dog owners should contact their veterinarian with additional questions or for more information.

CDPHE monitors certain respiratory illnesses in humans, such as RSV, influenza, and COVID-19, and has not linked any reported human respiratory illnesses to ill dogs at this time.

Any person who develops signs of respiratory illness who had close contact with an ill dog should consult with their physician as they normally would during the winter season.

Where can I go for more information?

We recommend pet owners visit the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s website for the most up-to-date information.


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