A message from GRCA about canine infectious respiratory disease

Over the past few years we in the fancy have experienced several scares when illnesses like canine influenza and other viruses were spreading throughout the dog community, including through gatherings of dogs at shows and trials.  The most recent outbreak of an atypical canine infectious respiratory disease (CIRD) appears to have been occurring in various parts of the country for a month or so before the National, but only recently have health officials connected the dots.  Distressingly, one of the current CIRD hot spots is the area in Oregon around where our National was held a few weeks ago. That, coupled with the influx of the Golden Retriever Community gathering in Albany, Oregon for the 2023 Golden Retriever National Specialty Show set up a situation where respiratory disease was easily spread.

While in Albany we enjoyed the company of our friends from across the country, made new friends and celebrated our amazing breed.  Sadly, as we returned to our homes, many of our canine friends have taken ill with a severe respiratory disease.  News of this type of mass infection is upsetting.  It is heartbreaking when the location of the infection is our National.  The dogs of many of our members and their handlers are suffering.  As lovers of this breed, we are all hurting.  As a community, sharing results of therapies, as well as staying home if your dogs are sick, are positive contributions that can benefit all.  

The following statement and guidance has been authored by the GRCA Health and Genetics Committee:

GRCA has learned of several Goldens who became sick with respiratory disease after being at the National. Some of these Goldens were febrile and quite ill with some owners reporting that all of their dogs that were at the show are now sick. Yesterday, the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) issued a statement about cases of canine infectious respiratory disease complex (CIRDC) cases in Oregon. We want to alert owners to the situation and to urge them to seek veterinary care should their Golden show signs of being affected and to ask for care to avoid further spread of this disease. Please let your veterinarian know that your dog was in Oregon and share the information from the OVMA alert with them. Some cases reported to OVMA were severe, some cases have not responded to antibiotics, and some have been sick for a long time. The following additional information and recommendations are extracted directly from portions of the OVMA statement. The full alert is available online https://www.oregonvma.org/news/reports-of-severe-canine-infectious-respiratory-disease-in-oregon 

Should Dog Owners Be Worried?

We suggest caution rather than worry. Periodic outbreaks of Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC) can occur in a dog population. At least nine different bacteria and viruses have been linked as causes of CIRDC, which is transmitted by respiratory droplets. Infection with more than one bacterial or viral agent is common. Symptoms include coughing, sneezing, nasal and/or eye discharge, and lethargy. If your dog shows these symptoms, please check with your veterinarian.

Recommendations for New CIRDC Cases

While ODA is still working to find the underlying cause of these atypical CIRDC cases, they request that any new suspected atypical Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease cases be reported to the ODA Disease Reporting Hotline at 503-986-4711. Until more is known about the causative agent, ODA recommends that cases initially be handled as normal, with diagnostic testing to rule out common causes of CIRDC, and treatment as necessary to address common bacterial agents when warranted by clinical/laboratory findings.

CIRDC Backgrounder

Periodic outbreaks of Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC) can occur in a dog population and some cases can be serious. Transmitted by respiratory droplets, both viruses and bacteria can cause CIRDC. 

CIRDC cases more commonly occur in animals housed in settings such as shelters, boarding, or training facilities rather than in animals housed in private homes, especially those with limited access to other dogs.

Veterinarians treat cases according to the dog’s symptoms and severity of symptoms. Treatment may include antibiotics. Most dogs, especially those vaccinated against respiratory illness, experience a mild illness.

Symptoms of CIRDC include coughing, sneezing, nasal and/or eye discharge, and lethargy. If your dog shows these symptoms, please check with your veterinarian.

Dog owners can protect their pets from respiratory illness by:

• Reducing contact with large numbers of unknown dogs. Just like with other respiratory pathogens, the more contacts your dog has, the greater the risk of encountering a dog that’s infectious. 

• Reducing contact with sick dogs. This can be harder to determine but if a dog looks sick (coughing, runny nose, runny eyes), keep your dog away from it. 

• Keep sick dogs at home and seek veterinary care. 

• Avoid communal water bowls shared by multiple dogs. 

• Ask your veterinarian for advice on which vaccinations your dog should have.

• If it’s sick, consider having your dog tested with a PCR test to help determine the causative agent (viral/bacterial), if possible.

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