Sneeze, snort and cough – the sounds of canine infectious respiratory disease complex
We all love the feel of a wet nose gently bumping our hand for a pat, or nudging our leg. But when that wet nose comes with a sneeze or snort or cough, it might be time to see our pet’s veterinarian.
If you’ve owned a dog for any length of time, you know that upper respiratory problems are common in our pet dog population. The infections include kennel cough, canine infectious tracheobronchitis, Bordatella, canine influenza virus. Whether a dog develops signs of upper respiratory disease not only involves infectious agents, but stress, individual susceptibility, and environment.
Upper respiratory infections have been recognized in dogs for years, and research into the causes of these infections has been intense. Viruses are the primary culprits causing disease, but a host of bacteria also play a role. The following table summarizes the currently known pathogens that can cause respiratory disease in dogs:
|Canine adenovirus type 2||Streptococcus equi subspecies zooepidemicus|
|Canine coronaviruses||Mycoplasma species|
|Canine distemper virus||Secondary bacteria|
|Canine influenza viruses (H3N8, H3N2)|
It’s not unusual for a dog to be infected with more than one pathogen, which complicates both diagnosis and treatment. Although tests are available that can detect many of the viruses and bacteria, confirming which organism is causing disease is difficult.
The good news is that most respiratory infections in dogs resolve without therapy. Prevention strategies include vaccination and management practices like isolation of affected dogs. Vaccinations for many respiratory viruses are available, but some have side effects and others have questionable efficacy. As always, consult with your veterinarian to find the vaccine that is right for your dog.
Morris Animal Foundation has funded numerous studies in vaccination and treatment of upper respiratory infections. In fact, part of what we are learning through the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study will help us better understand how to improve diagnostics and treatments of these often-infectious diseases. Next week, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of respiratory vaccines as part of the three-questions-answered series.