Respiratory disease outbreak: New Hampshire and neighboring states, updated Nov. 28, 2022

The Cornell Animal Health Diagnostics Center is available for consultation about suspected cases and can support specimen collection and transfer. Learn more about the tests performed.

Statement issued on 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.

The RCHC will continue to share updates about this canine respiratory disease outbreak as more details become available.


Statement issued on 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. 

The RCHC will share updated recommendations as more information becomes available.

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