Mystery Dog Illness – Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe 

Mystery Dog Illness - Tips to Keep Your Dog Safe 

Has your dog been coughing, sneezing, intermittently losing his appetite, or just plainly losing his get-up-and-go? It could be the Mystery Dog Illness going around!

News of a contagious respiratory dog illness spreads across the country like wildfire. So are questions, worries and rumors. This morning, a patient asked me if I’d heard about it and thought it might be responsible for making his dog limp.

Mystery Dog Illness – So what’s the truth?

This illness in dogs affects the respiratory system and has been lurking across the country for  a year or so. Initial signs include coughing, sneezing, lethargy, fever, appetites that are on and off and occasional lethargy.

The cough is said to be harsh and deep, mimicking “Kennel Cough.” The difference in this case is that with kennel cough, despite severe  nasty coughing,  dogs are usually bright, alert, non-febrile and not lethargic. Symptoms can last from 1 to 3 weeks and most cases resolve uneventfully.

This illness , which we will refer to as Illness X, is chronic and the coughing for example can last 6 weeks or more. Antibiotics have not been effective to combat the disease and standard laboratory testing has proven effective in identifying the offending agents. Researchers believe that PCR testing holds the most promise. Some cases progress to pneumonia which has proven fatal in some cases, others resolve.

Current theories are numerous but this veterinarians research points to the possibility of  2 agents: a streptococcus bacteria potentially “Strep zoo” which is highly contagious and easily spread by direct contact, through the air-similar to Covid and “fomites.” Fomites include almost anything that may have come into contact with a contaminated dog from infected water and food bowls, to grooming tools, bedding, toys, etc. The second agent may be a mycoplasma type organism.

What can Dog Owners do to keep their Canines Safe?

Avoid places where dogs congregate, including dog parks, grooming salons, doggie daycare facilities and boarding kennels. Call your veterinarian to be sure your dog is up to date on vaccinations with Influenza- the Flu- and Bordetella -Kennel Cough-being of foremost importance in this case. If your dog is showing any signs of this illness contact your vet.

Dr. Carol Osborne, DVM

Dr. Carol Osborne, DVM, is a practicing integrative veterinarian and a nationally recognized leader, speaker, educator, and advocate in the field of functional medicine. She is the founder and director of the Chagrin Falls Veterinary Center and Pet Clinic and an Emmy-nominated television journalist. Her first two books, Naturally Healthy Dogs and Naturally Healthy Cats hit the international best-seller lists. She is a regular contributor to several television shows and networks including FOX & Friends, The Today Show, Discovery’s Animal Planet, and Good Day LA.Dr. Carol is board-certified in Anti-Aging Medicine and developed and patented PAAWS: Pet Anti-Aging Wellness System for dogs and cats. Today she has turned her passion for functional pet medicine, real food, nutrition, and wellness into activism. Dr. Osborne is leading a pet health revolution that challenges us to reimagine our pet’s biology and the process of aging to create and sustain your pet’s health for life. Learn more at

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