Dog respiratory illness cases down, cause under investigation

COLORADO (KXRM) — Colorado State University veterinary experts report that cases of canine respiratory disease have dropped from peak numbers in 2023, but the cause is still being investigated.

“The great news is that the number of cases being reported in Colorado has been dropping since our suspected peaks between August and December,” said Dr. Michael Lappin, an internal medicine specialist and director of the Center for Companion Animal Studies at CSU.

“Why that trend is occurring is unknown but may be related to our pets spending less time in social situations that might include ill dogs during the winter months,” Lappin said.

CSU said 2023’s wave of canine respiratory disease was different from previous years as dogs experienced prolonged coughs for up to several weeks and there were more instances of what appeared to be secondary pneumonia. CSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital saw more than double the number of cases of canine pneumonia compared to the same three-month period in 2022.

According to CSU, experts have been working with partners across the state to investigate the origin of the elevated numbers. One of the efforts is to identify if any of the previous spikes were the result of one of ten known viruses or bacteria and if any of those pathogens have changed, or if there is a new cause.

“One of our first responses was to work with the state of Colorado to identify areas that seemingly had high numbers of cases to provide free diagnostic testing,” Lappin said.

CSU partnered with clinics in Fort Collins, Denver, Colorado Springs, and Grand Junction to test samples, the results are expected to be released when testing is completed.

CSU is also reviewing medical records of cases of suspected respiratory disease from the teaching hospital between Sept. 1 and Jan. 18.

Lappin advises dog owners to follow released guidelines which include:

  • Keeping dogs up to date on vaccinations
  • Watching them closely if they develop a cough
  • Exercise caution with nose-to-nose contact with unfamiliar dogs
  • When choosing pet care services, inquire about protocols for isolating sick dogs and cleaning practices

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