How Do Respiratory Illnesses Spread in Dogs?

Respiratory illnesses in dogs, such as kennel cough and canine influenza, are highly contagious and can spread through respiratory droplets, direct contact, and even through the air. The recent outbreak of a mysterious respiratory illness in dogs across several US states has raised concerns among pet owners and veterinarians. The illness, which causes lasting respiratory disease and pneumonia, does not respond to antibiotics and has led to fatalities in some cases[5].

Transmission of Respiratory Illnesses in Dogs

Canine respiratory illnesses are typically spread through:

  1. Respiratory Droplets: Canine Parainfluenza Virus (CPIV) and canine influenza are spread via respiratory droplets, and infection occurs within the respiratory epithelial cells[1].
  2. Airborne Transmission: The recent outbreak of a severe upper respiratory illness impacting dogs in the metro area is airborne and can also be transmitted through contact[2].
  3. Close Contact: Canine viral respiratory diseases are a widespread problem where large numbers of dogs are housed indoors together, such as in shelters and commercial dog colonies[3].

Preventive Measures

To protect dogs from respiratory illnesses, veterinarians recommend the following preventive measures:

  • Vaccination: Canine influenza and Bordetella vaccines are recommended to reduce the risk of infection[2].
  • Avoidance of Crowded Places: Keeping dogs home as much as possible, avoiding dog parks, doggy daycare, and boarding facilities can help prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses[2].


The recent surge in cases of a mysterious respiratory illness in dogs has highlighted the importance of understanding the transmission and prevention of respiratory diseases in canines. Pet owners are advised to stay informed about the latest developments and take necessary precautions to protect their pets from these contagious illnesses.

For more detailed information, please refer to the provided sources.

[1] Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease – PMC – NCBI
[2] Highly contagious, deadly respiratory illness impacting more dogs – 9News
[3] Canine Viral Respiratory Infections – PMC – NCBI
[4] Mysterious respiratory disease sickening dogs across Willamette Valley – OPB
[5] Dogs are coming down with an unusual respiratory illness in several US states – AP News

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