PAWS Response to the Mysterious Dog Upper Respiratory Infection

Wed, 11/29/2023 - 1:45pm

The PAWS medical staff are following a highly infectious, upper respiratory illness that is affecting dogs here in Maine closely. Symptoms are similar to kennel cough and the cause is still to be determined.  It seems to be spreading rapidly and has popped up across the country. Most exposures happen in settings like doggy day care, in a kennel environment, and other places where dogs congregate together (dog parks, hiking trails etc.) but there have been cases with no known exposure.

Common signs to watch for are coughing and sneezing, nasal or eye discharge, lethargy and decreased appetite. It is causing lasting respiratory disease and pneumonia in severe cases.  We recommend keeping your pets up to date on all vaccines which will help keep their immune systems strong.  Also, protecting any older pets and puppies, as well as any dogs that may have a weakened immune system.                                                                                                                        

There unfortunately is not a lot known about the virus, but in general most respiratory diseases are spread through direct contact and from exposure to droplets from coughing or sneezing. These droplets can contaminate in-animate objects, such as food and water bowls, as well as toys and even our hands. Maintaining good hand sanitation is important as well as keeping the environment as clean as possible.                                                                                                                     

Going into the holiday season we know there is the necessity of boarding our pets. If unable to avoid this, we recommend checking the health status of other dogs in the environment if possible.  

Since PAWS is an animal shelter and having dogs in close quarters with each other there is a definite risk present. We are doing everything possible to take precautions and keep our canine companions healthy both in and out of the shelter.

We will keep everyone updated as we learn more.


Kathy Moretti, LVT - Director of Clinical Operations


PAWS Medical Team

Dr. Simonson, Dr. James, Dr. Salvaggio, and Dr. Pierce