Health Alert – Update – Dec 22, 2023

Happy Golden Tater Tot
We have all seen the news articles about a recent uptick in Canine Respiratory Disease.

There is a ton of information out there, but there is also a great deal of misunderstanding, so please allow us to provide a broader perspective, so you can feel confident about your own decisions.

When the first news item appeared, we contacted our representative at the King County Board of Health, our source for any guidelines regarding infection control protocols. Their answer was simple: there is no significant increase in CIRD (Canine Infections Respiratory Disease) from prior years and our current infection control plan is entirely appropriate for CIRD. Further, their research found two cases, months ago, in San Diego and Oregon, where large numbers of rescue dogs, unvaccinated, and with unknown health circumstances, were accommodated in very large numbers, indicating crowded conditions.

Then, the stories of “mystery disease” multiplied. There are now countless stories, many stemming from the show dog realm – another notoriously vaccine-deficient population, where dogs travel from all corners of the country to compete and spend time in very tight quarters between their moments in the show ring. Note: autumn is dog show season.
Here is some more local and recent information:

Washington veterinarians have reported 16 cases concerning atypical Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex. Just two of these cases met what the state considers an atypical case, in which veterinarians are unable to identify the cause of the illness, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

The atypical cases were in Snohomish and Clark counties, and the dogs are recovering, the department said. Source – The Spokesman Review, 12/8/23

Happy Campers
This information is identical to prior reports in Washington state from a prior week, meaning that spread is not actually occurring at the rapid pace that had been discussed in many earlier news reports. Additionally, while there have been 7 dogs in King County included in those 14 cases not considered “atypical” above, again, those figures have not changed from prior reports.

Dr. Scott Weese, an infectious disease veterinarian at the Ontario Veterinary College says it seems that certain parts of the country are experiencing an uptick in canine respiratory illness. However, it’s possible the deluge of media coverage and attention on social media has created the appearance of a nationwide outbreak that may not exist in reality. “I get an email a couple of times a week saying, ‘Hey, are we seeing more respiratory disease in dogs?” he says, “But I’ve been getting that email for like five years.” Source NPR, 12/1/23

Ultimately, veterinarians recommend that you ensure that your pet’s vaccinations are fully up to date, and that if your dog is an elder or a puppy, know that their immune system may not be robust enough to protect them from serious disease. We agree.

Additionally, we suggest that dog parks may not be the place to go; no one at the park is monitoring the vaccination status and health history of your pooch’s playmates.

But at Scampers, you can feel confident that the dogs in our play groups are up to date on all vaccines and that we have eyes watching for symptoms at all times. As always, any hint of illness will result in immediate isolation of that dog and call for pick-up. In fact, there have been NO reports of Kennel Cough, mysterious or typical, in either Scampers facility, in months!

We hope this provides some context to help you make responsible decisions for your own pups.