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Cornell Richard P. Riney Canine Health Center

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Canine respiratory disease outbreaks

Canine Respiratory Disease of Unknown Origin 

The Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine is investigating the canine respiratory syndrome through a rapid response research project funded by the Riney Canine Health Center. The project is based at the Cornell Animal Health Diagnostic Center. This grant supports diagnostic testing on a limited number of acute cases but does not support the treatment of sick dogs. Please contact your local veterinarian when your dog is sick.

The Cornell Animal Health Diagnostics Center is available for consultation with veterinarians about suspected cases and laboratory diagnostic strategies at the link below.

Practitioner Resources for Diagnostic Testing

For treatment of sick dogs, your veterinarian can contact the Cornell University Hospital for Animals (CUHA) with questions about treating your dog, or if they wish to refer the dog to CUHA.

Contact Cornell University Hospital for Animals

What is this illness?

Veterinarians across the country are reporting an increased incidence of cases of canine respiratory disease that do not respond to regular treatment protocols. Affected dogs experience a longer and more severe disease course than is typical for canine infectious respiratory disease (CIRD) complex. A common etiology or set of etiologies have not been determined.

What to Watch for - Common Signs of Respiratory Disease

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Labored breathing
  • Nose or eye discharge
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite


Respiratory diseases commonly spread through direct contact, through water droplets from sneezing and coughing, or via fomites (contaminated objects and surfaces).

  • Avoid high risk situations for your dog such as boarding kennels, dog parks, and doggy day care facilities if you are unsure about the health status of other dogs in those environments.
  • Don’t share dog bowls, toys or doggy chews between dogs. Make sure your dog is up to date on their routine vaccinations. Check with your veterinarian if you are unsure when your dog was last routinely vaccinated.

Where to find more information:

  • Please check back here periodically on developments regarding this widespread canine respiratory illness. We are sourcing information from experts from across the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine regarding things to know to keep your dogs safe.
  • The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory (USDA NVSL)

What is being done:

  • A resource on diagnostics for veterinary practitioners can be found here.

Commonly asked Questions:

Q: Should I get my dog tested?

A: Because there is no specific cause that has been identified except for commonly known pathogens isolated from chronic cases, more samples from acute cases are ideal for laboratories to determine the primary cause. The Cornell AHDC is working to assist veterinarians with testing options. If you are concerned for your pet, we recommend contacting your local veterinarian, or sharing this information with them.

Q: Where does the research stand, and how much do we know?

A: The New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (NHVDL) and the Hubbard Center for Genome studies (HCGS) at the University of New Hampshire have preliminary findings in the diagnostic investigation regarding the recent atypical respiratory syndrome in dogs. Preliminary findings suggest the potential involvement of a non-culturable bacterium, tentatively named IOLA KY405, similar to a pathogen associated with respiratory disease in humans in 2021. While there is no evidence of zoonotic transmission, further studies are ongoing, emphasizing the importance of public health awareness and limiting dog-to-dog contact as a preventive measure.

Q: Was there evidence of canine respiratory disease in New York State since some daycares were seeing symptoms of cases?

A: Regarding the presence of canine respiratory disease in New York State, no official reports have been made, although some dog daycares have observed symptoms suggestive of cases. While these symptoms may align with typical Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC) infections or localized outbreaks, it's essential to note that without formal testing and a comprehensive understanding of individual cases or groups, confirming the existence of canine respiratory disease across multiple locations is challenging. It's worth mentioning that there isn't a centralized reporting system, and some veterinarians may not self-report, making it difficult to provide a conclusive assessment of the situation.

Q: What should pet owners do?

A: For pet owners, if your dog shows signs of a respiratory illness such as coughing, sneezing, labored breathing, or other symptoms mentioned, it's crucial to contact your veterinarian promptly. While the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine is investigating the canine acute respiratory syndrome, this research does not cover the treatment of sick dogs. Stay informed through reliable sources, follow precautions, and seek veterinary advice if your dog displays any concerning symptoms. If seeking treatment services at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals, the Small Animal Community Practice or Cornell University Veterinary Specialists, visit this page for contact information.

Recent media on the evolving cases:

November 28, 2022:

In late June, a canine respiratory illness appeared in southern New Hampshire, originally resembling a condition known as kennel cough and then later showing similarities with pneumonia.

Dr. Karen Tinkham, veterinarian and owner of Milford Veterinary Hospital in Milford, New Hampshire, says the overall regional caseload peaked in August, but subsequent waves throughout the fall have shown that this illness is still an ongoing concern.

Tinkham is collaborating with researchers at the New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for more comprehensive testing. She hopes their findings can reveal enough about how this new respiratory disease works so that clinicians can respond more quickly and effectively in the future. While current treatment strategies are improving, some patients are coming back with rebound cases or showing lingering symptoms.

Dr. Brian Collins, extension associate for the Cornell Richard P. Riney Canine Health Center (RCHC), says it’s important to stay up-to-date with your dog’s vaccinations to keep their immune system strong. He adds, “Be extra careful with puppies and senior dogs who may already have weaker immune responses.”

In general, respiratory diseases like kennel cough and pneumonia spread through direct dog-to-dog contact, as well as through contact with air or objects exposed to water droplets created by coughing or sneezing. However, veterinarians do not understand exactly how this particular disease is spreading, or how much of New England has been affected during the last six months.

“The vast majority [of canine patients] go to daycare,” says Tinkham, “but we have had a couple of patients with no known dog exposure.”

Collins recommends keeping a close eye on your dog for any possible signs of this illness. He says it’s important to seek veterinary care early-on, rather than waiting to see if symptoms abate or worsen on their own.


August 25, 2022:

The Cornell Richard P. Riney Canine Health Center (RCHC) is aware of increasing evidence of a severe respiratory disease presenting in dogs, which resembles a combination of kennel cough and pneumonia. While the outbreak originated in New Hampshire, it may be spreading to other parts of New England.

Dr. Brian Collins, extension associate at the RCHC and senior lecturer of community animal practice, says it's important to watch for new reports of canine respiratory disease in your area. 

He recommends that dog owners remain aware of the following situations that may increase your dog's risk of contracting this disease:

  1. If your dog attends daycare, goes to a groomer, dog training classes, dog parks or is in other situations where there will be groups of dogs, be proactive in asking about any recent cases of respiratory disease.
  2. Respiratory diseases are spread through direct dog-to-dog contact or through exposure from water droplets created by coughing or sneezing. These droplets can also contaminate objects such as bowls and toys, and even human hands.
  3. If your dog is experiencing any signs of illness — including coughing, sneezing, labored breathing, or ocular or nasal discharge — and particularly if your dog is also lethargic or has a decreased appetite, be sure to contact your veterinarian. Do not expose your dog to other dogs until you are certain your dog is not contagious. 
  4. Keep your dog up-to-date on any vaccinations recommended by your veterinarian. Be especially careful if you have a puppy that is not yet fully vaccinated, or if you have a senior dog or one that may have a weakened immune system. 

Learn more about managing severe diseases in dogs, such as kennel cough, parvovirus and leptospirosis.