In the ever-evolving landscape of pet health, 2023 has presented a new challenge—a mysterious respiratory illness affecting our beloved canine companions.
As animal lovers, pet owners, and a company focused on holistic pet health, our team at Maya Pet has been keeping a close eye on this dog respiratory illness that’s been hitting the news.
We wanted to share some insights into what’s going on and discuss preventative health measures that can help keep your furry friend healthy.
What We Know About This Mysterious Dog Respiratory Illness
Canine respiratory infections are somewhat common, especially in animal shelters and dog boarding facilities. However, an aggressive respiratory virus for dogs has been popping up since summer 2023.
Reports coming out have indicated the virus doesn’t respond to typical treatments, and some dogs have died, causing concern among pet owners and the pet health community.
Research is ongoing, but scientists recently discovered a previously unknown pathogen that may be linked to the uptick. However, the New York Times reported it just might be “a variety of run-of-the-mill viruses and bacteria” rather than a single issue.
According to reports from USA Today, symptoms are similar to what dogs experience with Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC), or kennel cough. These symptoms include:
- Chronic pneumonia
- Difficulty breathing
- Inflammation in throat/trachea
- Loss of appetite
- Sneezing and nasal discharge
While most dogs recover fairly quickly from these types of symptoms, it’s a cause for concern when dogs are struggling to breathe or stop eating normally.
Number of Cases
Due to inconsistent reporting factors and similarities to other common respiratory viruses, the exact number of cases of this mystery canine virus is unknown. In December 2023, NBC News reported the respiratory virus has impacted “hundreds of dogs in as many as 16 states.”
News outlets are sharing reports of dog respiratory illness in the following states as of December 2023:
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island
Reports are showing that, like most respiratory viruses, it spreads mostly through contact with other sick dogs.
Pets at Higher Risk
Per recent insights from the New York Times, dogs that are at the most risk of serious illness are those who tend to have a weaker immune system, including:
- Senior dogs
- Dogs with comorbidities and other health concerns
According to reports, pugs, bulldogs, and other short-nosed breeds can also have trouble clearing out their respiratory tract.
Some experts suggest avoiding or limiting contact with other dogs at dog parks, boarding facilities, and doggy daycare, especially if your pet is potentially high risk or showing any symptoms.
The Role of Gut Health in Prevention
When it comes to keeping your pet healthy, it all starts with the gut. A healthy gut is crucial for overall well-being, as it plays a key role in your pet’s immune system and digestion.
- A healthy gut microbiome helps regulate and support the immune system, making your dog more resilient against infections and illnesses.
- A well-balanced and diverse gut microbiome aids in absorbing nutrients. Proper nutrient absorption boosts overall health and prevents deficiencies that can weaken the immune system.
- Maintaining a balanced microbiome is essential for preventing the overgrowth of harmful bacteria that could lead to infections and digestive problems.
- An imbalance in the gut microbiome can contribute to inflammation. By promoting a healthy gut, you can help reduce the risk of inflammation that can exacerbate health issues.
Preventative and Holistic Pet Health Tips
Now, more than ever, the importance of holistic and natural approaches to pet health cannot be overstated. Naturally building your dog’s immune system and resilience against various health challenges is always important, especially when unidentified viruses like this are popping up.
If you’re wondering what you can do to help your pet and prevent issues from the 2023 respiratory illness that’s going around, here are some tips.
Focus on Nutrition
Provide your dog with high-quality and nutrient-rich food that promotes a robust immune system.
Every dog is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all diet. However, most of the time, you can’t go wrong by incorporating whole, natural ingredients rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein.
Avoid foods that have a lot of additives and artificial ingredients. These can often cause digestive issues and throw off the delicate balance of bacteria in your pet’s microbiome.
Be sure you introduce any new foods or treats slowly to minimize digestive upset when switching. You’ll also want to keep a close eye on them, including monitoring any changes in their eating, drinking, or bowel habits.
Keep Your Pet Active
Physical activity and mental stimulation are essential components of a holistic pet care routine. Regular exercise not only keeps dogs physically fit but also supports their mental health.
There’s no doubt that, much like humans, physical activity is good for pets. Whether it’s going on walks, tossing a ball in the yard, or playing tug-o-war, staying active helps keep your dog’s heart, lungs, and muscles strong. This enables them to recover from illnesses more quickly.
Research has shown a connection between mental stimulation — which these types of fun activities provide your pet — with a stronger immune system. In short, it could play a role in helping them fight off potential illnesses.
Stick With Routine
Dogs and other animals thrive on routine. By sticking to a general routine, you help minimize stress on your pet and ensure they get the food, rest, and activity they need to stay as healthy as possible.
When you have a set routine, your dog starts to pick up on when they’re supposed to do their business outside, sleep, and eat — and their body naturally falls into those rhythms. Being in familiar places also helps them feel safe, allowing them to let their guard down and rest. Proper rest gives their body much-needed time to recoup and heal.
A routine also helps you as the pet owner, too. If you’re sticking to a consistent schedule, you’ll be more likely to notice if your dog is suddenly eating less, more fatigued, or having issues such as diarrhea or constipation — all of which are potential signs of health concerns.
Since respiratory illnesses tend to spread through contact, some distance may be a good preventative tactic. Consider limiting your pet’s contact with other dogs at dog parks and pet boarding or day care facilities.
Consider exercising your dog by taking them on longer walks, where they’re leashed and you can control contact with other dogs along your route. Playing in the yard or a safe space with one or two other dogs you’re familiar with — rather than a large group at a facility — can also allow for socialization while minimizing risk.
If you have to go out of town, see if a family member or friend might be able to watch your dog instead of taking them to a care facility. If boarding or daycare facilities are a must, be sure to check with the management about their policies and cleanliness routines.
Give Your Dog Pet Supplements
In addition to a healthy diet and exercise, daily pet supplements, like Maya Pet, can help provide your dog with a much-needed digestive and immune system boost.
Pet probiotics and supplements work best when given on a proactive, ongoing basis, allowing them to build up in your pet’s system over time. That way, your pet’s body is as prepared and strong as possible if they end up having to fight off a virus.
When taken regularly, Maya Pet has been shown to boost the immune system and overall wellness in dogs.
Maya Pet goes beyond typical pet probiotics with 10+ Smart Strains of target bacteria. Each strain is specifically chosen to promote wellness.
We break our strains into four categories:
- Enhancers that boost your dog’s microbiome and gut health
- Managers that target gut acid and improve digestion
- Inhibitors that block pathogens and harmful bacteria that make your dog sick
- Communicators that help your pup’s brain, gut, nervous system and immune system work together better
Maya Pet comes in a convenient powder form, making it easy to add right to your pet’s food. A simple, proactive pet health solution is just a scoop away!
Committed to Proactive Animal Health
While the 2023 canine respiratory illness may be causing some confusion and anxiety, a commitment to holistic and proactive pet health empowers all of us to navigate these challenges with resilience.
Feel free to reach out to our team if you have any questions about Maya Pet or holistic pet care. We’re here to help in any way we can!