Leading Veterinary Charity Addresses ‘Fatal’ Respiratory Disease

The outbreak is currently spreading in the US but has so far not reached UK shores

With reports of rising cases of Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (CIRD) in dogs across the US, a leading UK veterinary charity has issued advice to pet owners, reassuring them that the disease does not appear to have spread to the UK.

PDSA Vet Catherine Burke said: “Pet owners will be no stranger to catching a nasty cough themselves but may not be aware that our four-legged friends can suffer from similar respiratory infections.

“While there has been discussion around CIRD in the US, particularly in the news, the same disease hasn’t been seen in the UK. If your dog catches a cough, it’s much more likely to be ‘kennel cough’ – a known and usually treatable illness that vets across the country have extensive knowledge about and experience treating.

“Kennel cough is an infection of the airways that causes a dry hacking cough in dogs. It usually stems from a viral infection but can occasionally be caused by bacteria too. It spreads through direct contact between dogs, as well as in the air and on surfaces, so is most prevalent when a group of dogs are gathered in one space, such as in kennels or doggy day care. 

Spotting the symptoms

“Symptoms of kennel cough can sometimes take up to two weeks to develop and can last for up to three weeks, so don’t be alarmed if your furry friend doesn’t seem to be feeling better straight away. While most dogs will come down with a hacking cough, puppies, older dogs and those with other illnesses might also suffer from other symptoms such as a reduced appetite, low energy, a high temperature and difficulty breathing.

“If you notice your furry friend coughing, or if they aren’t being their usual greedy and playful self, it’s a good idea to speak to your vet for advice and book them in for a check-up, especially if they are having any problems breathing. Make sure to let them know that your dog has been coughing – they might ask you to wait outside before being called in to minimise the risk of spreading infection to other dogs in the waiting room.

Treating your poorly pooch

“Dogs with kennel cough will usually recover at home within one to three weeks, without medication. Exercise can make their cough much worse so you may need to keep your pooch rested and give them plenty of TLC. Some dogs with kennel cough may benefit from sitting in a steamy room (perhaps while you have a shower or bath) to help relieve the congestion in their airways. Never leave your dog alone in a steamy room though and don’t force them to stay if they aren’t comfortable.

“If your furry friend has more severe symptoms, your vet may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication, to help reduce airway inflammation and help to bring down a high temperature. Antibiotics are rarely prescribed for kennel cough as most cases are caused by a virus (which doesn’t respond to antibiotics) but depending on how your dog is coping especially if your dog is very young, old or suffers from any other health conditions, your vet may suggest they need them.

“Keep your pooch away from other dogs and public spaces for two to three weeks as, even after their symptoms have cleared, they’ll still be contagious and can continue to spread the infection.

Seek advice from your vet if you’re unsure about anything relating to kennel cough, or for more information about the infection, visit:

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