Answering clients’ questions about CIRDC


Cases of canine infectious respiratory disease complex (CIRDC) in multiple states have been catching much media attention lately. Efforts are underway to identify one or more pathogens that may be responsible. 

Meanwhile, dog owners understandably have questions, and veterinary teams need trustworthy answers. Here’s information that your veterinary team can share with clients to help address their concerns.

  • Outbreaks of CIRDC occur regularly, and the recent outbreak isn’t cause for alarm. 
  • Several different bacteria and viruses can contribute to CIRDC, and we don’t yet know which one(s) are causing the outbreak. While we can’t rule out the possibility that a new organism may be responsible for the outbreak, current disease patterns aren’t consistent with the emergence of a new, easily transmitted pathogen.  
  • Most dogs with CIRDC will have only mild illness, recovering fully within 7 to 10 days. The classic sign is a frequent, honking cough that comes on suddenly, but some dogs may have sneezing and/or a runny nose or eyes.
  • Typically, only a small percentage of dogs will develop more severe disease, depending on the infecting organism(s) and the dog’s ability to fight it.
  • Signs that your dog needs immediate veterinary care include the following:
  • These factors increase a dog’s risk of becoming ill:

    • Short-nose breed, like French Bulldogs

    • Very young or old age

    • Compromised immune system

    • Pre-existing respiratory disease or heart disease

  • The best way to protect your dog against CIRDC is to keep their vaccines current. Vaccines not only reduce the chance of your dog becoming ill. They also make your dog less likely to develop severe disease or spread infection to other dogs. 

  • Optimal protection against common respiratory infections includes an annual intranasal vaccine against Bordetella, canine adenovirus type 2, and canine parainfluenza. Where canine influenza is known to be circulating, the injectable canine influenza vaccine also is recommended. Your veterinarian can help you decide which vaccines your dog needs to stay as healthy as possible.

  • For further protection against CIRDC:

    • Remember that dogs can be contagious and still look perfectly healthy. To play it safe, limit your dog’s interaction with other dogs—especially large groups of dogs with unknown health or vaccination statuses—and wash your hands after handling other dogs to avoid spreading infection.

    • Keep your dog away from toys and food and water bowls used by dogs outside your household.

    • Stay informed. Follow your veterinarian or the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) on social media, and check news or internet resources to find out about places where CIRDC, or more specific respiratory infections like canine influenza, have been reported. Start with this update from AVMA News: Making sense of the mystery illness found across the U.S.

    • Delay or avoid taking your dog to places where outbreaks are occurring.

    • If your dog is sick, keep them away from other dogs. 

  • In general, the risk of people getting sick from exposure to dogs with CIRDC is extremely low.

Related resources

The AVMA has online resources you can share with clients to help them understand more about both CIRDC and canine influenza, as well as a downloadable client handout on canine influenza. Find more information on these AVMA webpages:

Veterinarians also can read more about CIRDC in these peer-reviewed publications:



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