Recent Outbreak: Dog Pneumonia in Colorado - What Do We Know?

A dog vigilantly looking outside representing the dog pneumonia-linked respiratory illness in Colorado

COLORADO — In recent months, there have been cases of a respiratory illness in canines, linked to severe dog pneumonia that have left veterinary experts in search of the cause. 

Dr. Jess Apted, Medical Director at Sploot Veterinary Care, notes that although kennel cough and canine infectious respiratory disease complex are common, the recent cases of respiratory illness in canines are presenting differently. These cases are characterized by a larger number of dogs becoming ill, including younger ones, with more severe and prolonged clinical signs. Additionally, standard treatments are proving to be less effective in combating this particular illness.

Our Current Understanding of this Recent Dog Outbreak 

As of November 21, 2023, experts are yet to conclusively determine if the cause is bacterial or viral in nature.

State veterinarian with the Colorado Department of Agriculture, Maggie Baldwin states: “We don’t know exactly what we are seeing, and we don’t know if it’s something new,” Baldwin further states that this illness causes dogs to be ill for weeks or months, not responding in a typical manner to standard treatment (Penington, 2023)

This potentially new respiratory illness in dogs is under close observation by Colorado State University veterinarians; unfortunately, there have been a number of reported fatalities linked to dog pneumonia, associated with this respiratory illness. 

Based on recent cases of respiratory illness in dogs have a common factor: patients have recently been to establishments like dog boarding facilities, doggy daycare centers, and so on (Penington, 2023). This suggests that the illness is contagious, possibly through close contact.

Recognizable Symptoms of Canine Respiratory Illness (Dog Pneumonia) in Colorado

Various sources state that the following symptoms are associated with this new canine respiratory illness in Colorado

  • Persistent coughing (for longer than a week or so);
  • Sneezing;
  • Rapid or labored breathing;
  • Nasal discharge;
  • Eye discharge;
  • Fever; and
  • Lethargy. 

Pet parents who notice any of the above symptoms are recommended to contact Sploot or other urgent care veterinarians for the next best steps to take.

Protecting Dogs During This Time

As there has been an early link between this new canine respiratory illness and exposure to communal areas for dogs, such as dog boarding and daycare facilities, we strongly recommend pet parents exercise extra caution. Dr. Jess Apted from Sploot Veterinary Care advises, "If possible, keep your pets at home and avoid areas like dog parks, grooming centers, daycares, and boarding facilities. For those traveling over the holidays, consider home services that can take care of your dogs."

If dog boarding is unavoidable during the holidays, choosing a facility with stringent sanitation protocols can help mitigate the risk of transmission. Some establishments offer individual playtime as an alternative to group activities, minimizing close interactions with other dogs.

Lastly, maintaining preventive care measures, particularly up-to-date vaccinations, is crucial before exposing dogs to any communal areas or establishments. Vaccines play a significant role in reducing the likelihood of other common transmissible diseases, thereby safeguarding your pup's overall health.

In light of this, Dr. Apted, our Medical Director has provided crucial guidance: "If you are seeing signs of respiratory illness in your pet, we recommend isolating your pet and bringing them to Sploot for evaluation. A comprehensive exam, chest x-rays, and blood work can be conducted to assess for diseases, including pneumonia. Based on these findings, we can discuss the most effective treatment options for your pet. We are also actively collaborating with emergency hospitals and specialty clinics in the Denver Metro area to ensure that severely ill patients receive the best possible medical care."

Sploot is Always Here For You, 365 Days a Year

In response to the recent canine respiratory illness outbreak, Sploot Veterinary Care remains dedicated to your pet's health and safety. Our doors are open every day, including holidays, to provide prompt and expert care. Trust us to be your steadfast partner during this challenging time, ensuring the well-being of your beloved pets.