Since late July, veterinarians in North Carolina have seen an influx of mysterious coughing cases in dogs. With over 170 cases in the past month, there is a growing concern about this illness among vets and dog owners alike. Among animal experts, it’s known as “Canine Respiratory Infectious Complex Disease (CRICD).”

While most of the cases are in the downtown Raleigh area, it has also been reported in Wake Forest, Winston Salem, and even Alabama. Due to the fast-spreading nature of the illness, dog owners are encouraged to be aware of the signs and take precautions until the cycle can be broken. 

Read on to learn more about Canine Respiratory Infectious Complex Disease.

What is Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex?

Commonly known as dog flu, canine flu or kennel cough, Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC) is a highly contagious multifactorial disease associated with acute or chronic inflammation of the trachea and bronchial airways. Often concurrent infections with several viral and bacterial agents are present.

How is CIRDC spread?

The disease is spread rapidly among susceptible dogs housed in close proximity to one another; dogs only have to be 10 to 12 centimeters apart to spread it. Dogs most at risk are those who’ve been exposed to high population density areas, including:

  • Dog parks
  • Day camps
  • Boarding facilities
  • Social spots
  • Shelters

Transmission occurs primarily between dogs via respiratory secretions (barking, coughing, sneezing) but can also be transmitted on clothing and other surfaces.

What Are the Symptoms?

Affected dogs typically show symptoms of Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease 2-3 days after exposure but can exhibit symptoms up to 6 weeks. Look out for these common clinical signs:

  • Coughing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Retching and gagging
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • In severe cases, pneumonia

These symptoms typically last for 5-10 days but may persist for many weeks. Clinical signs alone cannot determine the type of infection; therefore, diagnostic testing is required for a definitive diagnosis.

How Do You Prevent CIRD?

Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease is not a vaccine-preventable condition, but proper vaccination protocols can help to minimize the frequency and severity of infectious respiratory disease in social dogs. Keep your dog up to date on all recommended vaccinations, especially Bordetella and Influenza. However, remember that no vaccine is a 100% guarantee for protection. 

Because the disease is highly contagious, avoid group activities such as dog parks, daycare, and boarding facilities, especially during an outbreak. If your dog is showing signs, isolate him or her from other dogs to prevent spreading it and visit your vet for diagnosis and treatment. 

How Do You Treat Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease?

Treatment is typically symptomatic and supportive while also aimed at preventing secondary bacterial infections. It largely depends on the type and severity of infection. Antibiotic therapy and supportive care are oftentimes enough, but more aggressive treatment may be necessary for severely affected dogs. 

It’s important to note that dogs can still spread the illness for up to two weeks after recovery. During this period, keep your dog away from other animals as a precaution.

Schedule A Wellness Exam

As the outbreak continues, try to avoid bringing your dog to areas where animals congregate. If you notice him or her showing any signs of coughing or nasal discharge or believe he’s been exposed to the illness, visit Tuscan Ridge Animal Hospital for a wellness exam. Get in touch by filling out our contact form or calling 919-556-1944.

Schedule An Appointment