March 28, 2022

Contagious respiratory disease for dogs spreading in South Florida

Source: Dr. Andrew Jones

Dog owners in South Florida are on high alert after county officials signaled the alarms over a highly contagious virus spreading among pups.

According to Miami-Dade County Animal Services, the virus – called CIRDC or canine infectious respiratory disease complex – can impact a dog’s respiratory tract and can lead to pneumonia. The Veterinary Medical Center at Ohio State University reports that CIRDC is “very common.” However, outbreaks can easily spread from dog to dog. It is also referred to as the “kennel cough” or “canine cough.”

“At least nine different bacteria and viruses have been linked as causes of CIRDC,” according to OSU. “Disease may be diagnosed after multiple dogs have a sudden onset of these signs shortly after being together in a common area.”

While most cases in South Florida have been mild, pet owners are urged to avoid dog parks and public settings with other dogs. Plus, officials said owners should keep their animals current on routine vaccines. It’s unclear where the outbreak originated.

After seeing a spike in cases, Miami-Dade County Animal Services said they are suspending some of their own services, reports WSVN.

“Wellness services such as vaccinations, micro-chipping and spay neuter. We are suspending intake of owner surrenders into our population, and we are suspending events that require our dogs to go into community,” said Miami-Dade County Animal Services Chief Veterinarian Dr. Maria Serrano. “You should be monitoring your dogs for any respiratory signs so coughing, sneezing.”

The rise in CIRDC cases also forced the postponement of Pup Glow 2022, a charity event in Miami Beach. Symptoms could last 7 to 10 days. If the last longer or become severe, officials say owners should contact their veterinarian immediately.

Dr. Jones’ Comments

This was what we used to call KENNEL COUGH, and used to believe that only 1-2 bacteria/viruses caused it. It was thought to be primarily caused by the bacteria Bordetella, or the Flu virus Parainfluenza..

It just so happens that those are the primary components of the Kennel Cough Vaccine..

NOW it turns out that MULTIPLE pathogens may be involved..

Common pathogens contributing to CIRDC:

  • Bordetella bronchiseptica
  • Canine adenovirus
  • Canine distemper virus
  • Canine herpes virus
  • Canine influenza virus
  • Canine parainfluenza virus
  • Canine respiratory coronavirus
  • Mycoplasma cynos
  • Streptococcus equi

The vaccine may not even be effective, depending on the underlying cause…

So what can you do?


There is no specific medicine used for treating kennel cough, and most dogs will recover even if they are not treated with any medications. Unless your dog is so ill that intravenous fluids or extra oxygen are required, treatment will be done at home. It is very important that you keep your sick dog away from all others because these infections are quite contagious between dogs. Viral infections must run their course, and they do not respond to antibiotics.

Primary clinical sign is coughing which will last for a few weeks.

So long as your dog is eating, drinking, with relatively normal energy, then let this run its course.

Monitor for secondary pneumonia, which will show up as a fever, increased/labored respiratory rate, less energy, less interest in food – a dog with pneumonia is sick. Then your dog will need to see a veterinarian.

Symptomatic Treatment is Advised

  • COLLAR. Remove collar
  • HUMIDITY. Provide additional humidity
  • HONEY REMEDY. 1/2 teaspoon of honey with 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice( per 10lbs of body weight), diluted in warm water given 2-3 times/day is very helpful, and more beneficial than any OTC cough syrup
  • SLIPPERY ELM. I have found Slippery Elm to be very helpful as well – mix in 400mg/10lbs daily as it can coat the throat giving symptomatic relief
  • LICORICE ROOT TINCTURE. is very helpful for cough, and a proven antiviral. The dose is 1/2 a ml of the tincture/20lbs twice daily
  • ELDERBERRY. This has been studied to be very helpful in people with a cold/flu virus, and one of the few natural remedies shown to decrease the length and severity of infection. A standard dose is 100mg/10lbs twice daily. I prefer the concentrated elderberry crystals, then mix with water and honey