Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex
“Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex” (CIRDC) is the new term to describe a collection of respiratory symptoms that reach a certain level of severity. Respiratory disease symptoms vary, but often include a cough, nasal discharge, expectoration (coughing up mucous), difficulty breathing, fever, pneumonia, decreased appetite, lethargy, and others. This term was adopted to describe this constellation of symptoms because there are so many different respiratory pathogens that can cause the same symptoms. Often times, a viral infection will set up for a secondary bacterial infection. There are many infectious agents including parainfluenza virus, canine influenza virus, bordetella, mycoplasma, and many others.
Many people are aware of the term “Kennel Cough” in dogs. Often times, pet owners use this term whenever their dog develops a cough or signs of respiratory disease. However, kennel cough is usually the common term given when there is an infection with a very contagious bacteria called bordetella bronchiseptica. Vaccination against Bordetella is standard of care and part of our core vaccination guidelines for all dogs. This vaccine is especially important for dogs that frequent areas that are high traffic for other dogs, such as dog parks, daycare, boarding, and training classes. However, there are many other causes of inflammation in the airway of dogs leading to similar symptoms, so it is important to not assume your dog has Bordetella unless it is confirmed via testing.
Canine influenza (CIV) is a very contagious virus that periodically has outbreaks across the country. Symptoms of infection can range from none to fever, coughing, runny nose, lethargy, loss of appetite, secondary bacterial lung infections/pneumonia, and even death. Given how contagious and severe the symptoms can be, as well as the increase in outbreaks in our state over the last few years, we now require vaccination against Canine Influenza Virus for all of our canine boarding and daycare guests and highly recommend it for all other dogs. The vaccine requires a booster 2 to 4 weeks after the first dose and then every 12 months thereafter. Like the human flu virus, there are many and constant mutations and we use the vaccine that covers the most severe strains. As with most vaccines, there is no guarantee of complete prevention of the disease, but, typically, it greatly reduces the severity of an infection in the cases where infection was not completely prevented.
Along with rigorous cleaning and disinfection protocols, requiring vaccination of our canine guests helps to minimize chances of the spread of these diseases. However, just as with human daycare and hotels, the nature of these services always means there is a risk of exposure. It is important to note that there will ALWAYS be more minor viral and bacterial “colds” circulating in the environment, just like with people. Not all respiratory cases will require treatment, but just as with people who become sick, isolation for a period of time may be recommended.