“That New Respiratory Disease” in Dogs, Potentially Lethal Respiratory Infection

“The New Respiratory Disease” in Dogs.

  • ”Resistant Respiratory”
  • ”New Killer Respiratory Flu” in Dogs

While it’s been said that the disorder is NOT in Georgia, I’m not so sure. I suspect almost zero dogs have ended up at the D-lab in Athens for testing and also that underreporting is the second cause of the vacuum of information.

I think it’s a new or different “germ” or microbe, I doubt it’s a virus because they can’t find one. They have DNA signatures of some unknown germs. I’m stupid to venture a guess but here’s what I know:

  1. When veterinarians were using the Gram+ antimicrobials like Clavamox, they had limited traction on the cases.
  2. When they added Baytril (a quinolone) to the cases they had considerably better luck.
  3. I’ve had good luck with (macrolide) Clindamycin in two super-resistant respiratory cases and the first one we used Clindamycin for, was by dumb luck*.
  4. Most of the cases had coughs but some don’t.
  5. They’re saying there’s been like 200+ cases in the United States. None in Georgia. How do they know that, when they can’t prove  (diagnostically) that those cases were even “This thing” that’s going around?


The point of this article, though, is really to provide some “ideas” about I’m using for this.

In the first place: There is a ‘steroid responsive asthma-like’ symptom with this syndrome, and I am convinced that a steroid is indicated. Honestly I think it’s (at least in part) the full-and-catastrophic progression of “wet lung” that contributes to their demise.

Many vets don’t like using steroids for the respiratory inflammation because there is some evidence that chronic / long term steroid use may give an ‘advantage’ to a pathogen operating against the host. Losing the pet on the short term, to prevent a long range problem seems poorly thought-out.

There’s considerable green mucus discharge from the nose alongside the fever which is around 103.8 to 104.0

Fever and depression seem to be the landmark symptoms. Mainly because kennel cough USUALLY causes no fever. And depression is also uncommon with Kennel cough.

Both fever and depression do occur with Canine Influenza however they collected neither virus from any of the putative cases in Oregon etc.

Nasal / respiratory secretions may be so profuse as to cause nausea and or vomiting from the sheer volume of slime swallowed.

Fluids can be used to reduce the fever. Some of these cases aren’t eating or drinking and I believe that fluids are indicated.

I like putting some DMSO in the fluids to provide antioxidant / anti-inflammatory support. (No more than 12cc in 1L of NaCl 0.9%)  (Even if it’s argued “That won’t help” –  it doesn’t cost much and it doesn’t hurt.)

Limiting exposure of infected dogs from healthy dogs is of paramount importance. It’s not enough to wash your hands. Changing your clothes and disinfecting all exposed skin and environmental surfaces with ethanol, 1:20 dilution Clorox, Lysol, are important. They don’t know for sure if it’s a virus or germ. So you have to eliminate both from potential fomite transmission.


I was seeing a chronic respiratory case with intermittent fevers for rather a few weeks and I came to the conclusion that it could be PIE. (Pulmonary Infiltrates With Eosinophils) and referred for evaluation. The specialist tended to concur. Treatments appropriate for PIE were continued and augmented. Later, the dog was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection which was ONLY sensitive to Clindamycin. We used that for the urinary tract infection and the respiratory infection went away.

…the respiratory infection went away.

So there *IS* a bacterium that responds to Clindamycin in airways in SOME dogs with “mysterious” chronic airway issues involving fevers and chronicity.

That first case paid dividends later as I was working with another case of resistant respiratory and, remembering the first “Clindamycin Case” I used Clindamycin on the second case and it reined it in with good haste.

That sticks out, in my mind, because clindamycin isn’t usually indicated for respiratory bacterial infections.

Here are the key symptoms I have seen with “What I Think May Have Been The Mystery Respiratory” Disease.

  • Sudden onset preceded by some runny nose
  • Depression
  • Fever @ 104
  • Raspy chest like pre-asthma / asthma
  • Green mucus and discharges from nose
  • Cough and gack from respiratory discharges en masse

Cough may be absent while gacking could be replacing it.

I don’t think you’re dealing with “The Disease” if there’s no depression nor fever.

Author: Dr. Erik Johnson
Dr. Erik Johnson is the author of several texts on companion animal and fish health. Johnson Veterinary Services has been operating in Marietta, GA since 1996. Dr Johnson graduated from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine in 1991. Dr Johnson has lived in Marietta Georgia since 1976.