For over the last year, upper respiratory infections have been increasing, even among vaccinated dogs. Kennel cough or Bordetella bronchoseptica (the main bacterial agent at the core of kennel cough) is one of the most common pathogens involved with canine URIs. 

Dog sneeze
Dog sneeze

This year has been busy with many veterinarians seeing multiple canine coughing and sneezing every week. The question is, why? 

The veterinary community is still not sure what’s going on. It does seem like there’s increased of URI activity over a lot of North America right now, and it’s been going on to some degree for quite a while. When we think about increases in respiratory disease reports, there are a few  potential causes, here are a few possibilities:

Increased disease caused by the same cast of characters

Coughing dog
Coughing dog

Increased disease caused by a new pathogen

dog receiving an intra-nasal Bordetella
vaccine with parainfluenza
dog receiving an intra-nasal Bordetella
vaccine with parainfluenza

Another question, is there a new pathogen involved? The veterinary community is always on the lookout for something new, but nothing is apparent yet.

With a new virus, we’d be more likely to see widespread transmission in exposed groups, since no dogs would have any immunity. We’re not really seeing that. The cases being reported are more sporadic, as we’d expect with our typical causes of the Bordetella complex.

However, we can’t rule out a new pathogen completely, and there are undoubtedly various causes of canine upper respiratory infections (mainly viral) that we simply haven’t identified yet.  

Increased reporting of disease

What about SARS-CoV-2?

What about canine influenza?

What can people who are worried about their dogs do?

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