What is Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex?

by Petfolk

What is Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex?

Infectious tracheobronchitis, (commonly known as kennel cough, caused by the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica) is a highly contagious upper respiratory infection. Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex is related to kennel cough, and may include an infection with Bordetella, but is a collection of several pathogens (which may be viruses or may be bacterial). Infection with Bordetella or other diseases can lead to a breakdown in the body’s protective mechanisms making the pet more at risk for other infections which can lead to a more severe condition. 

 Often, cases that start as an infection with Bordetella and are mild to self-limiting, as is typical of this disease. Some cases of Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex have quickly progressed to severe pneumonia with some pets requiring hospitalization in addition to antibiotics and other medications. Severe cases, especially those in which the pet does not see a veterinarian, may also be at risk for death.

Here you’ll find common symptoms, treatment, and protection of your pet::

Symptoms of Kennel Cough

  • Hacking cough
  • Huffing from abdomen when breathing
  • Respiratory rate over 60 while they are at rest 
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Eye discharge
  • Lack of energy and/or appetite 
  • Green or mucoid nasal discharge
  • Blue/purple gums

Treatment

  • Rest
  • Hydration
  • Using a humidifier or vaporizer, or placing your pet in a steamy bathroom for 15-20 minutes
  • Symptomatic treatment such as cough suppressants
  • In severe cases, antibiotics or other medications prescribed by your vet

Due to progression, your vet may recommend x-rays of your pet's chest to look for pneumonia and its severity. 

Prevention

Veterinarians are seeing a very high number of respiratory diseases progressing to pneumonia this Fall 2022. Some of these diagnoses may be in part due to Bordetella; however, some have been linked to other viruses. We have seen that respiratory disease this year appears to be highly contagious. For these reasons, veterinarians strongly recommend all dogs - regardless of risk - be vaccinated against Bordetella and Influenza. This can help decrease the course of the disease and make it less severe if your pet does contract a respiratory infection. 

Early and consistent check-in with a veterinarian is also critical. ERs are overwhelmed with these types of cases right now, and we can help avoid that with close monitoring to start antibiotics or other medications as soon as is appropriate (which is not always immediately). 

If you suspect your dog has kennel cough or a similar respiratory condition, call your veterinarian to discuss symptoms, treatments, and future prevention.

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