A message from Guide Dogs for the Blind Medical Director, Dr. Kate Kuzminski:
Like many, I've been concerned by the recent media coverage of an increase in serious respiratory disease in dogs across the country called Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (CIRD). Over the past few years, the number of CIRD outbreaks that we have seen in animal shelters, and in specific regions, has been more frequent, with pockets of serious influenza, pneumovirus, and Strep. zoo sometimes leading to pneumonia and in rare but severe cases, death. This pattern is not a new occurrence but there is no entity responsible for tracking national cases of CIRD consistently, so it is difficult to truly capture the trends.
The respiratory disease that has made the news recently indicates that an increase in CIRD cases is being reported in specific regions around the country. Beginning this past summer, the veterinary medical community has been aware of dogs developing respiratory signs like cough, sneezing, eye and nasal discharge, and in rare cases, severe pneumonia. The interesting piece of this current situation is that the diagnostic labs have been unable to identify the responsible virus or bacteria, which is unusual. Many university laboratories are working on diagnostics, but it does not seem that we have had absolute success in that area yet.
GDB's recommendations for keeping all dogs safe from CIRD during this time are to:
- Keep vaccines up to date (especially Bordetella and Influenza),
- Avoid high dog density environments like dog parks and boarding facilities, and
- Avoid dog contact with unknown dogs and dogs that are sick.
All of those tips are standard for how we reduce the risk of respiratory disease in general, and after our collective experience with the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone is likely well-versed in taking precautions such as these within our families. Rest assured that GDB's standard health and safety protocols are already in place to minimize the risk or potential spread of CIRD within our canine community.
If your dog is experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, please contact your veterinarian for advice.
If you are a GDB client and have questions about your dog's health or specific precautions you can take at this time, please contact our Support Center at 800.295.4050.
To learn more about GDB's industry-leading veterinary program and how you can support our work, visit guidedogs.com/veterinary.