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Canine Upper Respiratory Disease in Raleigh

September 2, 2022

Hello Armadale Family,

We wanted to make sure that you are aware of a surge in the number of upper respiratory illness cases we have been seeing in dogs over the last month. The number of dogs showing upper respiratory symptoms such as coughing, discharge from eyes or nose, repetitive sneezing and lethargy is approaching an epidemic level. Some of these pets have also presented with fever and some have had pneumonia seen on x-rays of the lungs.   

Why are we concerned?

We are seeing these signs in fully vaccinated pets. Our affiliated kennel, Armadale Farm Kennel, has been proactive in requiring both Bordetella (kennel cough) and Canine Influenza vaccination for boarding, daycare, and grooming pets to try to help protect our patients from these highly contagious upper respiratory illnesses. We are still seeing some pets with these vaccines becoming ill, and more surprising is that many of the dogs with illness have been young adult dogs. Airway testing in these pets have almost always come back negative, indicating that these vaccines seem protective and suggesting another infection is causing the symptoms.

Who is at risk?

We typically see more upper respiratory infections in pets that have been boarded, but many of the pets showing the respiratory illness have not been boarded or groomed recently. These pets may play with dogs in groups, dog parks or other play time with friend or neighbor owned dogs. Some have only come into contact with other dogs while on walks. This leads to a suggestion that dogs are being exposed doing normal dog activities around other dogs that are shedding the disease without any physical signs or symptoms. 

Armadale Animal Hospital has always encouraged full vaccination against Bordatella (kennel cough) and Canine Influenza.  As a result, the vaccine manufacturer, has assisted our patients with symptoms by offering to test their airways.  The vast majority of these tests have been negative for Kennel Cough and Canine Influenza infections, as well as 7 other agents known to cause upper respiratory illnesses.  This leads us to believe we are dealing with something new and not fully understood.

What can I expect if I need my pet evaluated for respiratory symptoms?

Please be understanding with our staff as we evaluate these patients with respiratory symptoms.  We will be examining these pets in a shady area or under the covered porch to allow us to minimize exposure of other pets in the hospital.  We will be using this process for any pets boarding next door also that develop respiratory symptoms during their stay. 

You may be asked to wait in your car with your pet or drive your pet to the rear of the hospital which has a direct walkway to the x-ray room if chest x-rays are needed.  Our staff may be in protective clothing (gowns, masks, gloves) to minimize transmission by our staff to other pets.  Do not allow your pet to have any contact with other pets or pet parents in the parking lot.  If your pet needs a potty break then walk them far away from other animals. 

We may not be able to accommodate a drop off appointment for these sick visits so please plan appropriately and be patient as it may take longer to work in your pet if the schedule is full. 

What if I need to board my pet?

If you are planning to board your pet, we encourage you to consider other options such as an in-home pet sitter or a friend or family member to look after your pet and thus minimize their risk and exposure. 

Armadale Farm Kennel is doing its best to keep these infections out of their boarding facility. If your pet is coughing or showing respiratory symptoms, the kennel will refuse to board your pet. If your pet is boarding and becomes symptomatic then they may ask for your pet be picked up from the kennel once your pet is examined, diagnosed and treated.  We also encourage you to update the two main respiratory vaccines (Bordatella and Canine Influenza).  The Bordetella vaccination helps prevent kennel cough is recommended to be boosted two weeks prior to boarding if overdue for best protection. The Canine Influenza series (1st vaccine followed by 2nd booster 3-4 weeks later) should be completed before boarding.  If their annual booster is overdue then the vaccine should be boosted 2 weeks before boarding. These are recommendations to help protect your pet and other pets sharing the boarding facility.

What if I notice symptoms in my pet?

Call us and let us know.  We will try and see your pet as soon as our schedule allows.  Begin a quarantine of your pet until we can evaluate them.  Take some video of the symptoms – especially coughing as we can assess some things that way.  If your pet is not eating it may indicate a fever and would be important to address.  Some of these cases are quite severe and we have developed a minimum database in order to assess how severe the symptoms are.  This minimum database includes an exam and often bloodwork and x-rays of the lungs.  Airway testing may also be recommended.  Our goal is to address pneumonia early and quickly since this is the main thing that can cause death in your pet. 

If I have started treatment of my pet, what should I monitor at home?

Pets should get better with treatment and we will need regular feedback from you as to how that is going.  Your pet should be quarantined from other dogs for 3 weeks or 1 week after symptoms have 100% resolved.  This includes dog parks, grooming and visits with any furry canine family members.  If your pet seems WORSE or NO BETTER then please let us know so we can schedule a recheck visit. 

To review, there may be a resistant viral or bacterial disease or a newly emerging upper respiratory infectious agent causing the increase in respiratory symptoms being seen in our area and elsewhere across the United States. If symptoms are noticed, please call for an appointment. Begin isolating your pet immediately.


Best regards.

The Doctors of Armadale Animal Hospital