Mystery Respiratory Illness in Dogs And How To Prevent It (2023)

Dog owners may be aware of a mysterious respiratory illness that has been afflicting dogs in nearly ten states in the USA. The symptoms are similar to those of Kennel cough but despite vaccination, some dogs have succumbed to it. It is also not responding to the usual antibiotics and seems to spread rapidly between dogs.

Veterinarians are asking dog owners to be vigilant – particularly in the case of senior dogs or dogs with pre-existing health issues. The four states where the disease is most prevalent include Rhode Island, Oregon, Massachusetts, and Colorado. However, vets believe the disease might have affected dogs in as many as ten states.

Let us take a look at what we know about the disease so far.

What Do We Know About The Mystery Dog Illness 2023?

Mystery Dog Illness 2023 Symptoms

Some reports have suggested that the Kennel cough like canine respiratory mystery illness causes the following symptoms:

  • Chronic mild to moderate cough- this lasts for almost 6-8 weeks.
  • Sneezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nasal and eye discharge
  • Fever
  • Lethargy or low-energy
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Pneumonia – this can become severe in 24-36 hours and most cases do not respond to usual antibiotics.

Dr. Lindsey Ganzer, a veterinarian in Colorado, has treated as many as 35 dogs with the above symptoms since the end of October. Almost four dogs had to be euthanized, while some passed away after developing severe pneumonia from it. In Oregon, almost 200 dogs are known to have shown the signs of this deadly mystery disease.

Vets have labeled the viral disease an atypical canine infectious respiratory disease. They are urging dog owners to see the vet right away if their pet is showing any of the above symptoms.

How Serious Is The Mystery Illness?

In most states, the number of deaths has been low. However, some dogs have died, although animal departments and vets have not actively tracked the cases or the exact number of affected dogs. More data is needed to know for sure how serious the infection is, the number of deaths, and the outcome of the mystery disease.

Dr. Kurt Williams, a vet in Oregon, is urging dog owners not to panic. Past data shows that such respiratory infections tend to come up from time to time, especially in dogs that are boarded or in rescue shelters or spend time in doggy daycares or pet hostel facilities. Therefore, dogs with limited access to other dogs or those in private homes are generally safe


The cause of the mystery disease is unknown but there seems to be a common factor among the affected dogs – they have all spent time at dog boarding facilities or daycares. Some dogs also had bacterial infections due to Mycoplasma cynos (M. cynos); however, experts are not certain whether the cause is viral or bacterial.

Vets and scientists are working to find the exact cause of the disease by testing samples from the affected dogs.

Where is The New Dog Virus?

The dog virus has mainly been seen in as many as ten states, with the four most affected being Colorado, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.

Prevention Tips – What Can Dog Owners Do?

Vets state that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for preventing this mystery disease. Here are some general precautions one can take to keep dogs healthy:

 Vaccinate Your Dog

Speak to your vet and ensure that your dog is up-to-date on all its vaccines. You must especially ensure vaccinations for infections like Bordetella, canine influenza, etc. If your pet attends dog shows or other canine events, then it should be up-to-date with all vaccinations. Make sure to conduct a vet check a day before the event.

Limit Your Dog’s Contact With Unknown Dogs

Your dog is at a greater risk of infectious respiratory issues if it is exposed to pathogens from other dogs. Limit your pet’s interactions with strange dogs and make sure it does not drink from communal pet water bowls. Avoid boarding your pet as much as possible. Limit your dog’s outings to public dog parks until the infection risk is reduced.

Clean Your Pet’s Paws After Walks

Wipe your dog’s paws with pet wipes to reduce microbes and do not let your pet lick its paws. 

Take Your Dog to The Vet if It Is Sick

If your dog is sick, please take it to the vet right away. Prompt medical treatment can help prevent complications and could save your dog.

Key Takeaways – Mystery Dog Illness 2023

There is a mysterious canine respiratory disease affecting dogs in the United States. The disease has mostly been seen in Colorado, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts; however, it may also have spread to as many as ten states. 

Some dogs have unfortunately died from it. The symptoms are similar to those of canine kennel cough but most dogs do not respond to antibiotics. It may be best to limit your dog’s contact with sick dogs and strange dogs in general. We hope this brief guide helps you keep your pet healthy and safe.  

Have questions about this illness or our safety protocols?  Call us!  

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