Updated December 27, 2023 
Updated December 8, 2023 
Updated December 7, 2023
Updated Dece,ber 5, 2023
Updated December 3, 2023
Updated December 2, 2023
Updated November 30, 2023
Original Post: November 28, 2023 
by Dorothy Wills-Raftery: FiveSibes

Frighteningly, we have all by now heard about the "mystery illness" that is rapidly spreading across the United States and Canada that vets are working diligently to decipher.

What They Do Know

It is a serious respiratory illness and can be fatal. Do not treat at home. Contact your dog's vet as soon as any symptoms first appear.

What Is It?

According to Veterinary Practice News*, the mystery illness is called, "Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC), which is also what kennel cough is called. However, while this "mysterious" respiratory illness can at first present itself like kennel cough, it can escalate to pneumonia rather quickly. According to Karen Ehnert, Director of the Los Angels County Department of Public Health Veterinary Public Health Program in an AARP* article states that other symptoms can "include nasal discharge, sneezing, lethargy and breathing issues" as well as loss of appetite and dehydration.

Ehnert explains, “The cough can be very prolonged; they have a very long bronchitis that lasts six weeks to two months or even more. Or it can be an acute pneumonia that progresses rapidly; an animal becomes seriously ill and can die within two days."

Don't assume it's kennel cough, which is bad enough. Always contact your veterinarian at first symptoms. 

Are Only Dogs Affected?

At this time, the experts say it seems to only be affecting dogs and not cats or humans.

What Locales Are Dogs Contracting It?

According to Dog Food Advisor (as of November 2023)*, "The illness has been detected, currently, in 15* states. They are:

* California
* Colorado
* Florida
* Georgia
* Idaho
* Illinois
* Indiana
* Maryland
* Massachusetts
* Nevada (newest addition 12-2-2023)
* New Hampshire

* Oregon - Note: "The Jackson County Animal Services shelter has closed to the public, including volunteers, at least through Thanksgiving weekend. It has also stopped pet adoptions until at least Dec. 5, according to Stacy Brubaker, director of Jackson County Health and Human Services, which oversees the county shelter. About a third of the shelter’s 100 dogs appear to have respiratory illnesses." ~OPD.org 11/30/2023. See full article below.

* Rhode Island
* Vermont
* Washington

And it is probable it will continue to spread to even more states.

How to Help Keep Dogs Safe As Possible
  • Keep dog's diet and health/vaccines up-to-date to help maintain a strong immune system.
  • Keep dogs away from areas where there are other dogs, such as:
    • Dog Parks
    • Grooming Businesses
    • Doggy Daycare
    • Dog Classes
    • Dog Shows 
    • Dog Events
    • Doggy Playdates
    • Public "Hello Sniffs" While Walking
    • Dog Stores
    • Any Place Your Dog Could Meet Another Dog
    • Common Eating/Drinking Dishes

Is There a Treatment or Cure?

Veterinarians from around the world are working hard to figure it out, but do caution folks to not panic. At this time, therapies can possibly range from antibiotics to nebulizers and oxygen tents. One couple recently claimed a human eye antibiotic recommended to them by another person "cured" their dog. "It was very, very strong last-resort antibiotic…but it’s what saved him,” states the dog's owner. *NOTE: Vets know if *and when* your dog would need a specific antibiotic and they have preferred first-line treatments that are better and safer for your dog than something you may hear about. Certainly ask them about anything you've heard, but they remind pet parents that some antibiotics may do more harm than good for your dog, even when your dog is not feeling well. Again, have a discussion with your vet what they feel is the best route for your dog, whose health record they are familiar with. Listen to the Trupanion Live Facebook Webinar for some great information on this that is easy to understand. Link further down on this page.

What To Do If Dog Has Been Exposed

 **Call your veterinarian. Be smart. Use common sense. If your dogs are sick, please keep them home and do not bring them out in public dog areas and expose other dogs. And on the flipside, if your dog has does not have a respiratory illness, but does have other health issues, do not bring him/her out to public dog areas and risk exposure.***

According to SFAMC Animal Medical Center in a Dear Pet Parents Letter on Layla's Woof*, the following protocols should be taken after you contact your vet:

  • Isolation Measures: Dogs exposed to the sick dog should quarantine at home for 14 days to monitor for signs and symptoms.
  • Home Confinement: Keep the affected dog at home, away from day care, boarding kennels, grooming facilities, and dog parks.
  • Reporting Illness: If your dog becomes ill after being boarded or in a facility, promptly bring your pet to us and inform the facility about the illness.
What About the News that New Hampshire Vets Discovered Bacteria Linked to This?
They began their studies in the summer and fall of 2022. This past June (2023), the New Hampshire Diagnostic Veterinary Library released this information, "In June 2023  preliminary findings were disseminated to NH Veterinarians and also shared with our fellow New England states where similar reports of infection were occuring."
Their preliminary findings they state are: 
  • "Known canine respiratory pathogens were not identified.  This early metagenomic work did not reveal any RNA or DNA virus of concern, and no typical fungal or bacterial respiratory pathogens were identified. 
  • The sequence data has revealed a non-culturable, bacterial-like organism, similar to Mycoplasma in a subset of the respiratory samples.  With any investigation of this nature it is difficult to differentiate correlation and causation with the detection of DNA sequences and agents.  Canine respiratory tissues from the NHVDL necropsy biobank archive from 2018 (presumably prior to current outbreak) were tested as negative and temporal controls.   These older negative control samples have tested negative thus far for this organism.   
  • These findings are only preliminary. More testing and analysis is needed before this syndrome is connected to a specific cause." 
To read their full findings, see below under Articles & Sources dated November 21, 2023. (The articles are listed beginning with most recent date back).
Why is the Disease Rates Rising So Rapidly? 
According to Dr. Scott Weese in the Worms & Germs Blog: Promoting Safe Pet Ownership , he says that although they do not have the "what" yet and the "why" is not clear, there could be other possibilities as to why this is happening. He states "In the past few years, we've seen:
  • More dogs
  • Disrupted veterinary care (less vaccination)
  • Changes in human activities (e.g. more remote work, maybe leading to fewer dogs at day care and therefore less kennel cough vaccination)
  • Other changes in human activities that alter how dogs interact
  • Changes in the types of canine respiratory disease vaccines we use
  • Earlier pandemic restrictions reducing the normal level of exposure to kennel cough pathogens and vaccination."
He also goes on to explain that "The net result would be an increase in dogs with less immunity from vaccination or previous infection. For bug factors, I think about the possibility of a new pathogen (or) an existing pathogen that’s changed." To read his full post with lots of important info, please refer to the  "Update: Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (December 1)" source listed below.

I will continued to share news on our FiveSibes: Siberian Husky K9 News & Reviews Facebook page and add here. There will be/are many articles coming out about this scary illness, and hopefully more news coming containing positive news for nervous dog parents. NOTE: Keep in mind, there will most likely be a ton of information and stories coming at you...be sure of your sources and always talk to your dog's vet!

In the meantime, here's some more reading for you  (in date order, most recent first):
  • Update on “Mysterious Canine Respiratory Disease” ~ With Dr.  Adam Christman 12/27/2023

  • "How to protect your dog with supplements from Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease"  ~ Layla's Woof 12/08/2023 READ HERE.
  • "Information that your veterinary team can share with clients to help address their concerns." ~ American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA) 12/07/2023

  •  "Expert Says Pet Owners Shouldn’t Panic About Canine Respiratory Illness" ~12 News 12/06/2023 READ HERE

    "Making sense of the mystery illness found across the US" ~ AMVA, 12/05/2023 READ HERE

  • FREE Webinar Facebook Live Event Hosted by Trupanion

 “Separating Fact, Fiction, and Uncertainty: Canine Respiratory Illness Q&A” Aired November 30th, 7:30 PM ETInfo Updated December 1, 2023 in Article Below.

  • "What We Know About the Mysterious Illness Hitting Dogs" ~ NBC News 12/04/2023 

  • "Update: Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (December 1)" ~ Worms & Germs Blog: Promoting Safe Pet Ownership with Dr. Scott Weese 12/01/2023 READ HERE.  (Note: Dr. Weese is on the panel of the above webinar. This is an excellent blog to follow for lots of information continually being updated). READ HERE.
  • "New Data Shows Dog Respiratory Illness Up in Canada, Nevada. Experts Say Treat It Like a Human Cold." ~USA Today 12/02/2023 READ HERE
  •  "A Mysterious New Respiratory Illness is Spreading in Dogs. Here’s What We Know" ~ National Geographic 12/01/2023 READ HERE.
  • "Canine Respiratory Disease Outbreak: Advice For Groomers" ~ Worms & Germs Blog with Dr. Scott Weese 11/30/2023 READ HERE  
    "UNH Researchers Provide Major Clue in Mysterious Dog Illness Case" ~ University of New Hampshire (UNH) Today READ HERE.
  •  "Canine Respiratory Disease of Unknown Origin"  ~ Cornell Richard P. Riney Canine Health Center 11/28/2023 READ HERE.
  • "Mystery Dog Illness: What is it? And What Should I Do?" ~ Dog Food Advisor 11/28/2023  READ HERE.
  • "UPDATED Information on the Mysterious Canine Respiratory Disease"~ Dr. Adam Christman, Host of dvm360 LIVE! talk show & The Vet Blast Podcast!  11/28/2023
Note - more Sources & Articles listed below this podcast. So continue scrolling after viewing.

  •  "What Dog Parents Need to Know About Mysterious Dog Respiratory Illness" ~ Steve Dale Pet World 11/28/2023 READ HERE.
  •  "Mystery Respiratory Dog Illness Striking Fear in Dog Owners" ~ Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them 11/2023 READ HERE.
  •  "Dear Pet Parents" ~ Layla's Woof 11/28/2023 READ HERE.
  • "Worried About the Mysterious New Respiratory Dog Illness? Here are 7 Things to Know" ~ AARP 11/27/2023  READ HERE.
  • "California Couple Claims Chloramphenicol Cured Dog Sick With ‘Mysterious’ Respiratory Illness."  ~ Veterinary Practice News 11/27/2023  READ HERE.
  • "New Weird Canine Respiratory Pathogen? What Do We Know?"~

    "Promoting Safe Pet Ownership" ~ Worms & Germs Blog with Dr. Scott Weese 11/24/2023 READ HERE.

  •  "Mysterious Dog Illness Prompts Jackson County Animal Shelter to Close" ~ OPD.org 11/24/2023 READ HERE.
  • "Oregon Dealing With Respiratory Illness Incidents in Dogs:
    Causative Agent Remains Unknown" ~ American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) 11/17/2023  READ HERE.
  • "Family Lives in 'Daily Dread' After Dog Dies from Mystery Illness" ~ Scripps News 11/14/2023  READ HERE.


  1. Excellent information! This is a scary one. It seems like every year there's a new illness in the dog world. I think it must be spreading rather quickly. My vet sent out an email and text to all this patients about 10 days ago warning them that this mystery illness was here and he was seeing it in his practice. He warned us to take the exact same precautions you mention. So, Nevada is now part of the illness. But I suspect there are more. This is definitely critical information. I'm sharing it with all my dog parents.

    1. Thank you very much! The more accurate information and sources we can share in our dog community the better. I always say ask your own personal vet first. And yes, Nevada is listed now as they relay their info. This page is in a constant state of update as we wait...and I will be very glad when we can update it with definitive findings for this latest illness. May Henry stay safe and healthy.

  2. There are a group of scientists in New Hampshire that have gone on record stating they have found the bacterium responsible. Assuming the illness in all states (and Canada) is the same illness, that's a HUGE step forward in finding a cure!

    1. Yes, Nevada is now listed as they have found something, but it is still preliminary. Another group has stated that they believe they should have some answers in about six weeks, so hopefully these two are going hand-in-hand and definitely gives hope. May there be a cure soon on the horizon. I've done some more updates to this page with source info coming in from the experts. I always welcome leads to continue keeping this page a landing source for link and info for everyone. May your pack stay safe and healthy.

  3. Oh my goodness. I heard about this from a friend in passing who casually mentioned it but had no idea this has been going on since last year. I find it interesting that there is an RSV type illness going around with dogs at the same time reports overseas of a new RSV pneumonia illness going on in humans, specifically young children. Hmm... keeping my ear to the ground on this one and definitely will be sharing this important informative post! Thanks for spreading the word.

  4. Fantastic post and so important for all of us to be aware of what is happening to keep our pets safe. Thank you for sharing my link for others to read what my vet clinic has said. Be safe

  5. This is hugely important and your page is a go to resource that people need to read. One thing I appreciate as a pet owner? GET TO THE VET!!! People thing it's expensive, or they can't afford it. BUT you can't afford to abandon hope on a single member of your family. Get to the vet darn you!!

    Marjorie and Toulouse

  6. I really hope this isn't a brand new pathogen. If so, it will take so much more time to discover how to treat it effectively. I'm being extremely cautious with my dogs! Wow, you have so many resources listed here! It's great that so many people are trying to get the word out.


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