Update: Mysterious Respiratory Illness Affecting Dogs.

Update on what we know and what you can do to keep your dog healthy during these uncertain times as we hear so much, but know so little, about the “Mysterious Respiratory Canine illness”.

What we know:

  • There is no test for the disease at this point.
  • We do not know the cause- is it viral, bacterial, mycobacterium?
  • To-date there have been reports in 40 states and Canada
  • 5% mortality rate reported by referral centers

Symptoms and when you need to take action:

  1. Coughing – if your dog’s cough progresses to every 20-30 mins monitor closely
  2. Sneezing
  3. Eye or nose discharge
  4. Abnormal tiredness, lack of energy or lethargy
  5. Fever (normal range: 38.5 c normal – 101 F normal – temperature for dogs )
  6. Intermittent or loss of appetite for food and drink

Visit your veterinarian if you witness a combination of the above symptoms. I am not encouraging panic, but don’t wait if you see your dog being lethargic and showing no interest in eating and drinking.

What to do if you believe your dog isn’t feeling well and develops a cough?

Option to consider: give your pup a treat with half a teaspoon of honey per 10 lb of body weight; ideally use manuka honey or if that’s not available, use honey that is locally sourced. Mixing the honey in with low/no sodium bone broth and slippery elm may help with your dog’s cough.

IMPORTANT: Monitor your dog’s cough closely. If the cough progresses – you don’t want to wait to the point where your dog is not eating/drinking before seeking help.

Dog owners can protect their pets from respiratory illness by:

  • Reducing contact with large numbers of unknown dogs. Just like with other respiratory pathogens, the more contacts your dog has, the greater the risk of encountering an infectious dog.
  • Reducing contact with sick dogs. This can be harder to determine but if a dog looks sick (coughing, runny nose, runny eyes), keep your dog away from it.
  • Keep sick dogs at home and seek veterinary care.
  • Avoid communal water bowls shared by multiple dogs.
  • If it’s sick, consider having your dog tested with a PCR test to help determine the causative agent (viral/bacterial), if possible.  Be sure to call your vet and adhere to their contagious disease protocol.

How you can help your animal remain healthy and safe: 

Minimize what you ask of your dog’s immune system 

  • Avoid dog parks
  • Avoid high times when other dogs are out on walks
  • Avoid communal water bowls
  • If your dog does not usually have much interaction with other dogs, you don’t want to tax their immune system by interacting with a possibly sick dog

 Sniff walks – You may want to make walks shorter, but continue to take your dog out for exercise. They still need mental and emotional stimulus –  and to remain active.

Diet  –  Do your best to ensure your dog is getting the most out of their diet, including vitamins, minerals, and protein.  If you feed your dog kibble, look at investing in high-quality dry food and supplements.  You can also add in healthy toppers like cooked eggs, and cut-up fresh or lightly steamed veggies (avoid onion, potato, garlic, & chives)

Fresh food – Organic blueberries (frozen can be used and are easily stored with a lower risk of going bad) and whole-fat unsweetened yogurt can help with probiotics and gut health.

To minimize any gastrointestinal upset, consider introducing these foods slowly if your dog is not used to having fresh toppers.

To help boost your pet’s immune system – there are a couple of supplements I would recommend:

TNT: Total Nutritional Top-Dressing

Turkey Tail Mushrooms – open the capsule and mix in with warmed water (or better yet bone broth)

For overall health and wellness, consider introducing gut health supplements. Dyna Pro can be a good supplement that’s easy to add to your daily routine.

Quercetin – this supplement is a good option to help boost the immune system and it’s safe for both humans and canines. It is a flavonoid and has antiviral and antibacterial properties. Ideally, look for a bioavailable supplement and take 150 mg per 50 lbs of body weight.

Diffusing essential Oils can also help boost the immune system. These are my favorites:




Additional considerations you can do today and every day: 

Indoor air quality:  it is a good idea to minimize any additional respiratory irritants in your house, like aerosols, air fresheners, plugins, scented candles, etc. as they may be potentially toxic.

Minimize the use of toxic cleaners, and whenever possible, introduce fresh air to your home, it is good for both you and your fur babies!

Plan ahead

If you have a dog under a year old, puppy to juvenile, you want to keep them away from highly populated dog areas. Do not bring them to any dog park, school, and/or kennels, and lastly, avoid sharing water and food bowls.

If you don’t have a vet clinic near you, it is a good time to do some research and get to know a veterinarian near you. Make at least one visit to become a client so you have care nearby.

Ultimately, be aware of what is happening in your area. If you don’t see much in the news, call your local veterinarian and ask how many cases they have seen.



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