Mystery Canine Respiratory Disease - What You Need to Know


If you have been following the news at all in the past few weeks, you may have noticed that there is a new dog respiratory disease spreading across the country, leading to death in severe cases. The disease has been reported in 14 US states, with the biggest outbreaks being in Colorado and Oregon.

At this time, there are no reported cases in the state of Pennsylvania.

Veterinary researchers at Colorado State University are currently investigating the outbreaks. They suspect that this disease is under the Canine Respiratory Disease Complex (CRDC) umbrella, but are still researching if this disease is caused by a new virus, or a known, but severe strand of virus or bacteria. In this condition, the lungs are damaged, setting lung tissue up to be taken advantage of by bacterial pneumonia, leading to death in severe cases. There have been a few reports of dogs experiencing other sequelae, such as thromboemboli, but this has yet to be proven. This new disease is different from Kennel Cough, which also falls under the CRDC umbrella, but usually results in a mild, self-limiting cough. 

Signs of the new respiratory disease to watch out for:

    1. Coughing
    2. Lethargy
    3. Fever
    4. Lack of Appetite

While dogs of all ages and breeds are being reported to catch this illness, the very young, very old, brachycephalic breeds (pugs, french bulldogs), and those with other underlying health conditions seem to be more severely affected. 

If you believe that your pet is affected, please call to schedule an appointment. When your appointment time comes. Please let us know you are here, but do not enter the building until you are told to do so. 

If your pet is having difficulties breathing, you should seek immediate veterinary attention. Please see our Contact Us page for information about local emergency clinics.

There are currently no definitive diagnostic tests available for this illness. Diagnosis will be made off of bloodwork, radiographs, clinical history, and clinical suspicion that are consistent with the disease. Please note that other respiratory diseases, that do not fall under the CRDC umbrella, such as aspiration pneumonia, congestive heart failure, lungworm, and lung cancer can mimic this new disease. Your veterinarian will recommend appropriate diagnostic tests to rule out these other causes.

At this time, no cure is available for the new disease. Treatments are largely based off of symptomatic care, with antibiotics to treat secondary infection/pneumonia. Veterinarians from other parts of the country are finding that severe cases benefit from oxygen therapy. At Drummond Animal Hospital, we do not have access to a large oxygen chamber. Because of this, if your pet becomes severely affected, our veterinarians may refer you to a larger hospital nearer Pittsburgh or State College so that your furry friend can get the oxygen they need. 

The best way to treat this new disease is to prevent your dog from getting it altogether. Please keep your pet up to date on vaccines and preventative care; minimizing other illnesses can help your dog’s immune system. We recommend that your dog stay up to date on the Bordetella and Canine Influenza vaccines as well as the core vaccinations. If cases come to Pennsylvania, please be prepared to practice “social distancing” with your dog to help keep them from being exposed. Keeping your dog from greeting, playing with, or sharing toys/dishes with dogs that do not live with you is a critical step in avoiding this illness. 

We are hopeful that, because we live in a low-dog-density area compared to the suburbs or city, we may avoid an outbreak of the mystery dog respiratory disease in our Redbank Valley Community. However, we are preparing here at Drummond Animal Hospital to deal with cases if they come our way.

Sign Up for our Newsletter!

Trusted Information Created by our Website Partners


1417 State Route 66, New Bethlehem, PA 16242

Office Hours

Appointment Only. Please pickup Medications and Surgical Patients at the Side Door.


8 am to 5 pm


8 am to 5 pm


8 am to 5 pm


8 am to 5 pm


8 am to 5 pm


8 am to NOON