Alert: Atypcial Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex in Utah

As a dog owner, you always want to ensure your furry friend is happy and healthy. That's why it's important to stay informed about the potential risks and diseases that can affect them. Recently, there has been a rise in cases of Atypical Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC) across the United States, leaving pet owners feeling concerned and wondering what they can do to protect their dogs. In this blog post, we will be diving into everything you need to know about the atypical CIRDC - from understanding the disease complex itself to identifying its symptoms and exploring prevention measures you can take as a dog owner. We will also delve further into the current situation in Utah, so that you can make an informed decision about how serious this threat is for your beloved pet. Read on to learn more!

French bulldog puppy wearing a medial face mask - atypical canine infectious respiratory disease complex - atypical kennel cough

States Reporting Cases of Atypical Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC)

As of 12/15/2023 16 states have reported cases of the Atypical CIRDC.











New Hampshire



Rhode Island




CBS News has a map of states with atypical CIRDC on their website.

A Facebook Group set up to track cases of atypical CIRDC can be found here.

Understanding the Atypical Canine Respiratory Disease

What is Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC)?

CIRDC is nothing new in and of itself. According to the AVMA, CIRDC encompasses numerous bacteria and viruses.


  1. Bordetella bronchiseptica**
  2. Mycoplasma species
  3. Streptococcus equis subspecies zooepidemicus


  1. Canine parainfluenza virus*
  2. Canine adenovirus type 2*
  3. Canine influenza virus (subtypes H3N2 and H3N8)**
  4. Canine respiratory coronavirus
  5. Canine herpesvirus-1
  6. Canine distemper virus*

*Protection available through standard vaccines.
**Protection available through additional vaccines.

Accurate diagnosis is vital for effective treatment, while vaccinations can prevent some forms of the disease. Animal shelters, doggy daycares, boarding facilities and dog parks are common areas for disease transmission.

The recent surge in canine respiratory disease across the United States has alarmed dog owners. Unexplained illnesses in dogs have led to increased diagnostic testing and a search for underlying causes. Investigations are underway at many state veterinary diagnostic laboratories to determine the cause of the disease.

The Science Behind the Disease

The New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (NHVDL) studied 70 dogs and found a new bacterium using metagenonic analyses. We (the Drs. Kuhlman) authored two scientific papers using metagenomic techniques many years ago for a completely different type of microbial community. According to Dr. David Needle, from the College of Life Sciences in New Hampshire, this is a "funky bacterium." It is smaller than usual and difficult to find and sequence. It's like looking for the proverbial "needle in a haystack."

Dr. Needle, says the germ may be a newly discovered possible source of illness, similar to mycoplasma bacteria that can cause pneumonia, and it is likely that it either originated from or has evolved from a part of the dog microbiome. Dogs, like humans, have various types of beneficial bacteria and other microorganisms present both internally and externally. These microorganisms are believed to assist in digestion when located in the gut.

According to Dr. Karl E. Jandrey, a professor of clinical small animal emergency and critical care at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, the structure of the bacterium provides insight into which medications might be most suitable for combating it. He recommended that the antibiotic, doxycycline, could be a viable option.

Defining Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC)

Recognizing signs of illness in dogs, such as lethargy and coughing, is crucial. Canine infectious respiratory disease can quickly lead to severe respiratory illness, making veterinary care and supportive care essential. Symptoms include coughing, nasal discharge, and can resemble symptoms of canine respiratory coronavirus and Bordetella bronchiseptica. The Oregon Agriculture Department spokesperson, Andrea Cantu-Schomus, explains that the majority of these illnesses occur in three different ways:

  1. Inflammation of the tubes connecting the throat to the lungs (trachea), which may not respond well to antibiotics or show minimal response.
  2. Chronic pneumonia, which may not respond well to antibiotics or show minimal response.
  3. Acute pneumonia can cause severe illness or even death can occur within 24 to 36 hours.

If your dog is experiencing persistent coughing and other respiratory symptoms, PLEASE contact a veterinarian immediately.

Major Contributing Factors In Disease Spread

The spread of canine respiratory diseases occurs through direct contact and droplets, with the holiday season potentially causing an increase in cases due to boarding. Extreme caution should be exercised, particularly in animal shelters, daycare and boarding facilities, groomers and dog parks. Social media can aid in spreading awareness, and puppies, elderly dogs, and unvaccinated dogs are more vulnerable. Please make sure your dogs are current on all of their vaccinations, especially for kennel cough (aka bordetella).

The Situation In Utah

While Utah has not officially reported an individual case of the novel canine respiratory disease as of today (12/5/23), Dr. Greg Kuhlman, DVM, DACVIM tells me that case suspicious for CIRCD has been presented to a veterinary clinic in Salt Lake City. and having nasal discharge since adoption with no response to treatment. Much more workup needs to be done for the patient to determine the cause of their coughing. We will watch this case closely for its ultimate diagnostic outcome.  Because people are traveling with their dogs and the upcoming holiday will see many dogs being boarded, it is CRITICAL for dog owners to be vigilant and take preventive measures right now. Heightened awareness and precautions can help contain the spread of the disease across Utah.

Current Status of Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease in Utah

Utah veterinarians remain vigilant amid the outbreak of respiratory disease in dogs. Diagnostic testing is crucial for pinpointing the specific pathogen responsible. If you think your dog may have this new disease, please insist that a respiratory panel be performed.

For up to date information, please visit the AVMA's page on this mystery illness.

Why the Sudden Rise?

The recent surge in canine respiratory disease has sparked concern among dog owners, animal shelters, doggy daycares and boarding facilities. Unexplained illnesses in dogs have led to increased diagnostic testing and a search for underlying causes. The research at NHVDL actually began in the late summer of 2022, so the "sudden rise" of the outbreak is likely due to the media raising awareness of an increasing number of cases.

Is Your Dog at Risk of Contracting the Disease in Utah?

Dog owners in Utah should be aware of the potential risk of their dogs contracting canine infectious respiratory disease. This respiratory disease can affect dogs in boarding facilities and kennels, and signs of bacterial pneumonia or canine influenza virus should not be overlooked. Early identification of signs of illness is crucial for timely veterinary intervention, as this disease can impact dogs of all ages and breeds in Utah.

How Serious Should Utahn Dog Owners Take This?

Utahn dog owners should take the rise of canine infectious respiratory disease seriously. It appears to be highly contagious. Because of the potential for severe health consequences, proactive preventive measures and disease management are critical. Prioritizing vaccinations, vet consultations, and everyday precautions can help protect dogs from this significant threat to their health. The presence of pneumonia as a secondary infection should be a cause for concern for an underlying canine distemper virus infection or another immunosuppressive disease.

Analyzing the Threat Level of the Outbreak

Understanding the seriousness of the canine infectious respiratory disease outbreak is crucial for pet owners. Recognizing the rising trend of these diseases aids in implementing preventive measures and ensuring canine health and safety. Being aware of the potential risks helps in taking appropriate precautions, including vaccinations and everyday preventive measures. Staying informed about the prevalence is essential.

Identifying Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Symptoms

Recognizing signs of illness in dogs is crucial for early intervention. Canine respiratory disease may present with symptoms such as coughing and nasal discharge. Severe signs of respiratory disease, including pneumonia, require immediate veterinary care. Timely identification of respiratory disease symptoms can aid in prompt treatment.

Common Signs of Infection

Common Signs of Infection: Noticing runny nose, coughing, and lethargy in dogs? These are common signs of canine respiratory disease. Severe respiratory signs can be caused by canine distemper virus and canine adenovirus type 2. Don't ignore signs like trachea inflammation; they might indicate a severe disease. Timely blood work and diagnostic testing are crucial for confirmation.

The most troubling symptom seems to be that "Instead of that dry cough where the dog felt good, it was now this wet cough where the dog felt sick," explained Dr. Amanda Cavanagh, in charge of urgent care at Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, to ABC's Good Morning America.

When to Seek a Veterinarian's Help

If your dog shows signs of respiratory illness, timely veterinary care is crucial. Severe cases may require antibiotics and supportive measures. Early intervention plays a key role in preventing the progression of the disease. Utah pet owners should consult a veterinarian promptly. Vaccinations and taking precautions can help mitigate the impact.

Precautions for Dog Owners

Prioritizing vaccinations for dogs is crucial, especially before going to daycare, boarding or dog park visits. Regular vet check-ups, antibiotics, and vaccinations are essential to prevent severe respiratory illness. Precautions such as isolating sick dogs and minimizing close contact can help reduce the spread of disease. Educating pet owners about precautions and vaccinations is vital in mitigating the disease's impact. Hence this blog post.

Vaccinations and Their Importance

Proper vaccinations are essential for preventing canine infectious respiratory disease. Vaccination significantly reduces the severity of symptoms, protecting dogs from severe illness. It also helps mitigate the risk of kennel cough, pneumonia, and other complications. Timely vaccinations prevent the spread of the disease complex in daycares, boarding facilities and dog parks.

Everyday Practices to Reduce Risk

During the holiday season, when there's an increase in cases, dog owners should reduce direct contact and exercise caution. Sanitization and minimizing close contact with sick dogs are crucial. Being mindful of clinical signs like coughing and runny nose is important. Regular vet check-ups and vaccinations play a vital role in reducing the risk.

Treatment Options

Veterinary care, including blood work and diagnostics, is vital for managing CIRDC. Home care like rest and hydration helps in recovery. Antibiotics may be needed for bacterial pneumonia. Your veterinarian will offer guidance on management of the disease. Timely intervention and supportive care can alleviate severe clinical signs.

Veterinary Interventions

Expert veterinarian care is vital in diagnosing, treating, and preventing severe disease in dogs. Tailored care, antibiotics, and close monitoring are essential in alleviating clinical signs of canine infectious respiratory disease. Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment by veterinary professionals are critical in managing the impact of this disease. In most cases, antibiotics are not needed or advised unless there are indications of bacterial pneumonia. These signs may include an illness that persists for more than 10 days. Dogs with severe illness may also require intensive supportive care, such as the addition of oxygen.

Small dog undergoing oxygen therapy for atypical kennel cough

Home Care for Infected Dogs

Creating a comfortable environment for infected dogs is crucial. Rest, hydration, and careful monitoring are essential. Isolation, proper ventilation, and hygiene help prevent further spread. Seek a vet's guidance for antibiotics and supportive care. Follow vet-recommended measures for the dog's recovery.


In conclusion, it is crucial for dog owners to take the rise of CIRDC seriously. The disease has been spreading rapidly and can pose a significant threat to our furry friends. While Utah has not yet had an official case as of the date of publication, it is only a matter of time. Understanding the symptoms and seeking veterinary help as soon as possible is essential for early detection and treatment. Additionally, practicing preventive measures such as vaccination and maintaining good hygiene can help reduce the risk of infection. As responsible pet owners, it is our duty to prioritize the health and well-being of our beloved companions. By staying informed and taking necessary precautions, we can help protect our dogs from this concerning respiratory disease.

Frequently Asked Questions about the New Canine Respiratory Disease Outbreak

What is canine infectious respiratory disease complex (CIRDC)?

Canine infectious respiratory disease, also known as kennel cough, is a highly contagious respiratory infection that affects dogs. It is typically caused by a combination of viruses and bacteria, including the canine parainfluenza virus, canine adenovirus type 2, and Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria. The disease is commonly spread in environments where dogs are in close proximity to one another, such as boarding facilities, dog parks, and animal shelters. Symptoms can include a dry cough, sneezing, nasal discharge, lethargy, and loss of appetite. While the infection is usually mild and self-limiting, it can rapidly progress to more severe respiratory symptoms in some cases. Treatment typically involves supportive care to manage symptoms and prevent secondary infections. Vaccination against the common pathogens that cause kennel cough is available and recommended for dogs who are at higher risk of exposure.

What pathogens are associated with canine infectious respiratory disease?

Canine infectious respiratory disease, also known as kennel cough, can be caused by a variety of pathogens. The current outbreak may be caused by a novel and non-culturable bacteria sequenced at the New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, tentatively identified as a Mycoplama. The most common pathogens associated with this respiratory condition in dogs include Bordetella bronchiseptica, canine parainfluenza virus, and canine adenovirus type 2. Other viruses and bacteria can also contribute to the development of kennel cough. It's important to consult with a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment if your dog is showing symptoms of respiratory illness.

Is the new Canine Respiratory Disease Outbreak the same as Dog Influenza?

Dog influenza strains can contribute to CIRDC, but the latest outbreak appears to be caused by an unknown agent, possibly a new bacteria related to Mycoplasma. Vaccines to protect dogs against both H3N8 and H3N2 canine flu are available from your veterinarian, and should be strongly considered in the current situation. Your vet can provide additional information about these vaccines and whether you should consider vaccinating your dog.

What are the symptoms of the new dog virus?

Canine infectious respiratory disease, also known as kennel cough, is a highly contagious illness that affects dogs. Some common symptoms of this disease include:

  1. Persistent coughing: Dogs with kennel cough often have a dry, hacking cough that may sound like they are trying to clear their throat or gag.
  2. Sneezing and nasal discharge: Dogs may also exhibit sneezing and have a runny nose or nasal discharge.
  3. Lethargy: Infected dogs may appear tired or less active than usual.
  4. Loss of appetite: Some dogs with kennel cough may experience a decrease in their appetite.
  5. Fever: A mild fever can sometimes accompany canine infectious respiratory disease.

It's important to note that these symptoms can vary in severity depending on the individual dog and the microorganisms involved. If you suspect your dog has CIRDC, please consult with a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment options.

How do you treat canine infectious respiratory disease complex?

Treatment of CIRDC really depends on the severity of the symptoms and the microorganisms involved. It is always best to consult with a veterinarian who can assess your dog's specific condition and recommend an appropriate treatment plan. If pneumonia is diagnosed, various antibiotics may be prescribed. Their use should be limited, however, to prevent antibiotic-resistant infections.

What states have the mysterious respiratory dog disease been confirmed in?

As of December 5th, 2023, there have been reported cases in Oregon, Colorado, California, Illinois, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Washington, Vermont, Maryland, Idaho, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania. It is highly probable that there are unreported cases in other states similar to the one in Utah.

Do infected dogs need to avoid people too?

We do not currently have any information suggesting that CIRCD is zoonotic (meaning that animals can transmit the disease to humans). Just like humans, dogs can transmit certain illnesses to others through direct contact or through contaminated surfaces like water bowls. It is important to follow proper hygiene practices and seek veterinary care for infected dogs to minimize the risk of spreading any infections to humans or other animals.

What does it mean if your vet says your dog has 'kennel cough'?

If your vet says your dog has "kennel cough," it means that your dog has canine infectious respiratory disease. Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection in dogs that is commonly spread in places with many dogs, such as boarding facilities or dog parks.

What is kennel cough, and how is it treated?

Kennel cough, also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is a highly contagious respiratory infection in dogs. It is typically caused by a combination of bacteria and viruses, such as Bordetella bronchiseptica and canine parainfluenza virus. The main symptom of kennel cough is a persistent dry cough that can sound like honking or gagging. Other symptoms may include sneezing, nasal discharge, lethargy, and a loss of appetite.

Treatment for kennel cough usually involves supportive care to help alleviate symptoms and boost the dog's immune system. This may include rest, providing a warm and comfortable environment, ensuring proper hydration, and feeding a nutritious diet. Cough suppressants or antibiotics may be prescribed by a veterinarian, if necessary.

Prevention is key in managing kennel cough. Vaccination against Bordetella bronchiseptica and other common respiratory pathogens can help reduce the risk of infection. It is especially important for dogs that are regularly exposed to other dogs in places like boarding facilities or dog parks.

If you suspect your dog has kennel cough, it is best to consult with your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan tailored to your dog's specific needs.

Are all types of Bordetella vaccines equal?

While there is no official consensus that intranasal bordetella vaccines are any different from oral or injectable vaccines, we have personally had dogs who had the injectable vaccine contract kennel cough at a dog park. The intranasal vaccine is generally thought to be more effective at preventing the disease, but some dogs can not tolerate having the vaccine delivered into their nostrils. You already thought COVID tests were bad enough, right?

What are the symptoms of kennel cough?

The clinical signs of the disease can vary. While the illness is typically not severe, the cough may persist for weeks. Typical symptoms include a loud cough that resembles a goose honk, watery eyes and nose, swollen tonsils, wheezing, reduced appetite, and a depressed demeanor. In most cases of kennel cough in dogs, coughing occurs when the throat is touched or pressed, as well as during and after physical activity.

What are the causes for coughing in dogs?

Here are several common conditions that cause dogs to cough:

  1. Kennel Cough
  2. Canine Influenza
  3. Pneumonia
  4. Heart Disease
  5. Heartworm Disease
  6. Laryngeal, Tracheal or Esophageal Collapse/Paralysis

As always, you should consult with your veterinarian to diagnose the cause of your dog's cough.

Is there a vaccine for canine infectious respiratory disease?

Vaccines to protect dogs against both H3N8 and H3N2 canine flu and bordetella are available in the United States. Your veterinarian can provide additional information about these vaccines and whether you should consider vaccinating your dog.

How does canine infectious respiratory disease spread from dog to dog?

Respiratory illnesses can be transmitted through direct contact between dogs or by being exposed to water droplets produced during coughing or sneezing. Additionally, these droplets can contaminate objects like bowls, toys, and even human hands.

Are certain breeds or ages of dogs more susceptible to contracting CIRDC?

Dogs of all breeds and ages are susceptible to CIRDC. Breeds such as French Bulldogs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, English Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pugs, Brussels Griffons, and Boxers, which have brachycephalic features with shortened snouts or faces, have narrower nostrils and smaller airways. As a result, they may face difficulties in defending against or recuperating from CIRDC.

Headshot of Dr. Gregory M. Kuhlman, DVM, ACVIM (SAIM) Veterinary Internist at Red River Animal Emergency Hospital and Referral Center

Content reviewed and approved by Dr. Gregory M. Kuhlman, DVM, DACVIM (SAIM)

Dr. Kuhlman earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Wisconsin. Following an internship in small animal medicine and surgery at the VCA Animal Emergency and Referral Center of Arizona, he completed a residency in internal medicine at Texas A&M University. Dr. Kuhlman enjoys all aspects of internal medicine, but he has a special interest in gastrointestinal, hepatobiliary, immune-mediated and infectious diseases. He has a passion for the treatment and management of the canine athlete and has been competing in and judging English springer spaniel field trials for over 20 years. He has a special interest in treating the canine athlete. On his days off, he can usually be found out training his dogs for AKC field trials, hunting upland game with his dogs, fly fishing or training for Ironman triathlons.

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