Los Angeles dogs hit by mystery respiratory illness; Health officials investigating

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health veterinary program has received multiple reports of dogs experiencing a sudden and mysterious onset of a concerning respiratory illness within the city and county.

According to officials, symptoms of the mystery respiratory illness often include a cough, nasal discharge, sneezing and lethargy in dogs.

Since Thursday, Nov. 16, LA County Public Health veterinary officials have received 10 reports from veterinarians in the LA area of dogs with respiratory illnesses that don't match the common viruses and bacteria often seen in dogs with similar symptoms. 

Owners of these dogs have been contacted to determine where the animals may have become infected.

One-year-old Huxley, left, approaches three-year-old Dusty at an off-leash dog park on Power St. in Toronto. Lance McMillan/Toronto Star September-01-2023

Officials are currently referring to this illness as Atypical Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (ACIRD).

If your dog is experiencing these symptoms, officials advise owners to take the following steps:

  • Contact your pet's veterinarian to be evaluated and appropriately tested.
  • Isolate sick dogs at home for a minimum of 28 days past the first day of the onset of illness. Dogs exposed to a sick dog should quarantine at home and stay away from other dogs for 14 days to monitor them for signs or symptoms of illness.
  • Clean regularly and disinfect surfaces, doorknobs, keyboards and animal equipment. To disinfect, use an EPA-registered disinfecting product or a stronger bleach solution.
  • Keep dogs home and away from daycare, boarding kennels, grooming facilities and dog parks.
  • If a dog becomes ill after being boarded or being in a facility, owners should take them to a veterinarian for an evaluation and notify the boarding facility.

Officials confirmed that these instances are similar to the cases reported in other states, including Oregon, Colorado, New Hampshire and Illinois since August of this year. 

LA officials said they are working closely with federal and state entities to better understand how the illness is impacting dogs in other areas.