Our dogs Veterinary staff are wonderful. They send us timely health reminders for our dogs and pet health tips and information ahead of every holiday and season. I'm used to those informative communications. But on November 22nd at 3pm I received dog health information from our Vet that totally freaked me out! 

The email was to notify us of a Mystery respiratory dog illness that was rapidly spreading across the country. After reading the details, the hair literally stood up on the back of my neck. 

Mystery Dog Respiratory Illness

It was especially frightening to me because my Husky Icy, is 14 years old. A senior dog could certainly be more at risk of getting this respiratory illness. This mystery respiratory dog illness striking fear in dog owners certainly struck fear in this dog owner!



After further research I found out that the dog respiratory illness began over the Summer of 2023 in a Western state.  Currently, the illness is present in at least 15 states so far, including here in Florida.  

As of 12/3/23, the illness has been detected in; California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.  It's also shown up in several Provinces in Canada. I expect the number of identified cases will continue to grow, especially through the holidays with people traveling with their dogs or dogs being boarded while owners are away.

The symptoms are similar to that of the highly contagious kennel cough, but much more severe and longer lasting.

The scariest thing about this illness is that some cases are proving to be FATAL, and that there is no specific, effective treatment that has yet to be identified. Well that just sent me over the edge!

Dr. Rena Carlson, President of the American Veterinary Medical Association, reported that by November 27th, 2023 the illness has spread across 14 states, from California to Florida.  The cause of this illness has still not been identified. It's not yet certain whether this respiratory illness is viral or bacterial.


🐾 Coughing or Sneezing

🐾 Fever

🐾 Lethargy

🐾 Loss of appetite

🐾 Difficulty breathing or wheezing

🐾 Eye or nasal discharge

In severe cases, this dog respiratory illness can result in pneumonia, turning into severe pneumonia within 24 to 36 hours. If your dog becomes sick, and shows any of these symptoms, contact your Veterinarian as soon as possible.  If you're traveling, find an emergency Veterinary clinic that can see your dog right away.

The illness seems to be spread through close contact, similar to the way kennel cough spreads. 


This illness doesn't seem to respond to the standard treatments or antibiotics used for known respiratory illnesses in dogs.  Your Vet will likely prescribe the standard treatments that are given for illnesses like Kennel Cough which includes; 

> Antibiotics, not to treat the specific illness but to treat any secondary illnesses it may cause due to the immune system being lowered. 

> Oxygen therapy may be prescribed if your dog is having difficulty breathing or has contracted pneumonia.

I've heard from several sources that the antibiotic  Chloramphenicol  had some success. This is a strong, broad spectrum antibiotic that has been around for a long time in Veterinary medicine. It's mainly been used for gastrointestinal disease, UTI's, skin infections and some respiratory disease. It's not used very commonly anymore.

Dr. Andrew Jones, DVM and YouTube content creator at Veterinary Secrets, also suggests that treating this serious mystery dog respiratory illness with Chloramphenicol may be successful.

In an ABC News report, a family in California has a Golden Retriever, Ike who was extremely ill with this unknown dog respiratory illness. He had been receiving oxygen therapy, but was given a poor prognosis. They didn't think he was going to survive.

Using Chloramphenicol was a last ditch effort to treat him - and it worked!  Ike was off oxygen 12 hours after receiving the Chloramphenicol, and was home later that week. I was so happy when I read this story. At least it appears there is a possible antibiotic treatment option that might work.

Dr. Jones also suggests some natural remedies, such as;

🌿 Green tea mixed with honey 

🌿 Flavonoid, found in red onion and apple peel 

🌿 Querceteen, which has antiviral properties 

🌿 Licorice root tincture, also with antiviral properties (NOTE: should not be used continuously or long term!)

🌿 Elderberry Concentrate

🌿 Slippery Elm, from the Slippery Elm tree

🌿 Olive Leaf Extract, has antibacterial and antiviral properties

NOTE: Never give your pet any natural remedies yourself without first consulting your Veterinarian!



Since this respiratory illness is very contagious and spread from dog to dog, I would avoid placing my dog in close contact with other dogs. I'm keeping my dogs away from other dogs and away from the following situations;

🐾 Shelters - If you happen to adopt a dog, isolate them from your current dog(s) until consulting with your own Veterinarian. Many dogs are kept in close proximity to each other and their stress levels are high. That can be a prime environment for contagious illnesses to develop.

🐾 Boarding facilities - If you're traveling and must board your dog, have a conversation about how to prevent dog to dog contact. What is the facility's plan to prevent dogs in their care from contracting the illness?

🐾 Doggie day care - Personally, I would not bring my dogs to doggie day care at all until more is known about what this illness is, and a firm treatment option is identified

🐾 Training facilities - If your dog is in a group training class, have a conversation about how to prevent close dog to dog contact. Ask what the plan is to prevent the dogs from contracting this illness

🐾 Grooming facilities - If you must have your dog groomed, exercise caution. Again, ask what the facility's plan is for protecting the dogs they groom from contracting this illness

🐾 Dog Parks - I would keep my dog out of dog parks until more is known about this illness, and a treatment option is identified

🐾 Pet Stores - I wouldn't bring my dog to any stores where there might be other dogs. For me, it's just not worth the potential risk until more information is known about this illness

Ask your Veterinarian if s/he recommends that your dog receive the Bordetella vaccine, which helps protect dogs from most strains of Kennel cough.  

Ask your Vet to recommend supplements that may strengthen a dog's immune system such as Fish oil which contains Omega 3's, Vitamins such as E and C, and perhaps a Probiotic.  

I give my dogs Fish Oil several times a week, as well as a daily Probiotic. I also cook salmon for them several times a month.  I add Bone Broth that contains Turmeric to their food as well, and I add Manuka Honey to their food fairly regularly. Note: dogs with diabetes should not consume honey!

Dogs living in the same household could spread the illness to each other. Keep an eye out for any of the above symptoms in your own dogs. If any of your dogs show signs of these symptoms, isolate them immediately and contact your Veterinarian.

If you're traveling for the holidays be extra cautious if you're traveling with your dog or if you will be boarding your dog. Other dogs in hotels along the way, or at your dog's boarding facility could have potentially been exposed to this unknown pathogen.  

Sharing is Caring! If you enjoyed this post, we would really appreciate a social media share! 😍

Visit my ETSY store, Nature and Critters, where you'll find one of a kind Printable, instant downloadable art prints, Gifts for Dog Moms, Nature landscapes on canvas, Wall art for nursery or kid's room, Inspirational quotes, and more.

Sweatshirts, Wall art and Mugs are great Christmas gift ideas 

You might also enjoy these articles about Dog Health and Safety:

Tips for a Successful Road Trip With The Dog

Another article on this Mystery Dog Illness from our friends at Five Sibes.


Tail Wag Wisdom said...

Really critical information to provide right now! I hadn't heard about the natural remedies. That's good to know. My vet said he's seeing this illness as well here in NV. So, it's spreading. I'm worried about Henry as well since his immune system has been hit a few times already. I'm keeping him isolated from any place another dog would be and hoping that it's not transferrable to coyotes since we have a lot of them crossing our property everyday (marking). But then again, Henry should be ok even with that since he doesn't come in face-to-face contact with them. I think I need to explore bone broth more. I like that idea. Thanks so much for this value-packed article!

FiveSibesMom said...

This is a very concerning illness. It's good we are getting info out there for pet parents. I do know "they" say don't panic and they are working on it (latest report is another 6 weeks before they have a closer concept of what/which is causing it), but I have to say, I'd be concerned if I had my pups still. Especially with them being seniors. I've added your link here to my resource page. May Icy and Jessie stay healthy and safe!

Anonymous said...

This makes grim reading. I can see there is treatment, let's hope some of it works, this is terrifying.

Marjorie and Toulouse
Dash Kitten

LaylasWoof said...

Great post and we were discussing it yesterday with the Head of our Vet Clinic and all you said perfect although walking your dog and going to a less busy dog park can be safe also

Impurrfectlife said...

I hadn't heard much detail about this mystery illness until today. Wow! This is really alarming. However, it's good to know dog moms and dads have some options with treatment. I hope this illness resolves itself soon so no other dogs have to suffer or pass away from this disease. So sad. Thanks for sharing and spreading the word.

پارس تاپ 10 said...

Your article was informative and of course painful. Thank you for sharing it with us.

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