Respiratory Illness Strategies
November 2023 IllnessAs of late November 2023, there is currently a canine respiratory illness that has been occurring in parts of the country. News stories are saying there are hundreds of cases across the country, including some in Chicago, out of many millions of dogs. It is not considered a pandemic at this point.
While the news may be concerning, the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association’s website states: "We suggest caution rather than worry. Periodic outbreaks of Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC) can occur in a dog population." Oregon has experienced recent cases and is aggressively pursuing a solution.
The association also says that in the cases they have reviewed, "Most dogs, especially those vaccinated against respiratory illness, experience a mild illness" if they catch the virus. Tucker Pup's requires vaccinations against respiratory illness.
Further, after several months of genetic testing, researchers have not found any new pathogens, but instead have only found typical causes.
Should You Stop Coming to Tucker Pup's?We will be remaining open as normal, and are continuing to take dogs for all of our services each and every day. Unless your dog is at high risk, we do not recommend that you stop coming. This is especially true since it may take months for researchers to develop a solution, which could possibly be a new vaccination. If you live in the city, especially in a high-rise, the source is an airborne illness as suspected, and the situation becomes widespread, your dog will likely become exposed one way or another at some point.
Researchers do not recommend that you go dog parks for now, as these can have unvaccinated dogs.
Our StrategiesTucker Pup's has developed many strategies to combat this risk, and safety is our top concern. We do not believe that many pet businesses are taking these steps, and they further demonstrate what sets us apart.
- No dogs allowed who are coughing or showing signs of illness. We do not allow dogs to enter our facility who are showing signs of illness, including coughing.
- CIV and Bordatella vaccinations required. We require the newest Canine Influenza vaccination (CIV), called H3N2, for all dogs who use our services. We also require Bordatella (also called Canine Cough). Vets indicate that these vaccinations help fight off respiratory illnesses. Click here to view our CIV vaccination policy.
- Other vaccinations recommended. Based on advice from veterinarians, we are strongly recommending the Adenovirus 2 and Parainfluenza vaccinations.
- Two weeks to build immunity. Vets recommend that if your dog is receiving a vaccination for the first time, that you give at least two weeks afterwards in order to build immunity before joining other dogs.
- Fresh air. We have a sophisticated HVAC system that brings in tons of fresh air, and exhausts old air, several times per hour. This is highly effective in removing respiratory contagions from the building.
- Ultraviolet lights. We have an ultra-violet light system in our ductwork that kills viruses on contact, yet is harmless to humans and dogs. These lights have been found to be effective against respiratory illnesses.
- Seamless flooring. Our floors are completely seamless, so they don't harbor bacteria and are as easily cleanable and sanitary as possible.
- Cleaning equipment. Our cleaning equipment is highly effective at removing residue from surfaces, keeping them as sanitary as possible.
- Animal-specific disinfectants. We spend extra money to purchase animal-specific disinfectants, which kill many viruses including parainfluenza, distemper, and parvovirus. The majority of pet businesses only use chemicals such as bleach or general-purpose cleaners, which are not effective against animal-specific illnesses.
- Outbreak response. Even though we have all of these resources in place, an outbreak is still technically possible. If this is the case, we follow a protocol to ensure the safety and well-being of the pets in our facility, including communicating with our customers, taking dogs to the vet if necessary, keeping them out of group play, monitoring their health carefully, and deep-cleaning our facility often.
Possible CausesVets and researchers suspect that the illness is likely due to canine-specific bacteria that has adapted and become virulent. If this is the case, this would mean that if a dog has contracted the virus, then coughs or sneezes, the bacteria can be passed to others in tiny droplets through the air. For example, this could occur in a high-rise where dogs are in elevators, hallways, lobbies, stairwells, and even common play areas. It can also be passed in group play, such as at daycare or the dog park.
Until we are told differently, we are assuming that this is the likely explanation, based on our experience with the Canine Influenza outbreak in 2015.
Please note that dogs can be carriers of respiratory viruses, even though they don't show signs themselves.
In addition, it normally takes several days for respiratory illnesses to develop into visible symptoms. If your dog is coughing today, it likely picked up the virus at least 2-3 days prior.
SymptomsSymptoms can range from light coughing to sneezing, loss of appetite, eye or nasal discharge, fever, lethargy, and possibly pneumonia in some cases. Most dogs that contract it experience symptoms for three weeks. The majority of cases are mild, but a small percentage experience more severe symptoms, especially if in combination with other health issues.
Some news stories mention that a small percent of dogs have died who had the illness. However, according to Dr. David Needle, a pathologist at the New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, "Fatalities do not seem to be a large part of the syndrome we are investigating, with rare animals developing an acute and sometimes fatal pneumonia after the longer chronic disease. We think these may represent secondary infections."
If your dog has a minor cough, that does not necessarily mean it is due to the virus. You should consult with your vet if you have questions.
Treatment and RecoveryVeterinarians treat cases according to the severity of symptoms. Treatment may include antibiotics, especially if a bacterial infection is suspected. It may also include supportive therapy or oxygen support. With treatment in a timely manner, many pets are recovering over the course of 1-2 weeks, although some are taking longer than this.
The most important factor is that if your dog starts to show symptoms, to go see your vet right away for treatment. We recommend calling first, so you don't bring a sick dog into their lobby.
We also recommend ensuring that your dog's Canine Influenza and Bordatella vaccinations are current. This is required for coming to our facility.
Risk FactorsDogs at the highest risk have the following factors:
- Advanced age
- Compromised immune system
- Underlying health condition
- Unvaccinated (we require these for coming to our facility)
- Puppies who have not received their full set of vaccinations (not including Rabies)
2015 Canine Influenza OutbreakIn 2015, there was an outbreak of canine influenza across the country, that had very similar symptoms and treatment. A vaccination was developed that significantly reduced the number and impact of cases. We have been requiring this vaccination since its inception.
Canine respiratory illnesses have been in the United States since then (including in Chicago), and will likely continue in the future. We have not had any known cases of canine influenza since requiring the vaccination.
This situation may be similar, but researchers need more time to tell. They do believe that the canine influenza vaccination will help, since it fights respiratory illness.
ReimbursementPlease note that Tucker Pup's does not reimburse customers whose dog may develop a respiratory illness during an outbreak. Click here to learn more about our Health Warranty Program.
Questions or Concerns?We invite you to call us with any questions or concerns. We are here to help!