Wondering about the "Mysterious Illness" affecting Dogs? - Greenwich Moms


Written by Eric Bleile, Founder of Active Dog

There have been several cases of a “mysterious” or “untreatable” respiratory illness recently in our area. I am not a veterinarian, but having built a dog hiking and boarding company that has allowed me to come in contact with over 5,000 clients, and their beloved dogs, over the last twelve years, I would like to provide a comforting message to those feeling the angst around this unknown illness.

As many of us now know, having gone through the recent years of Covid, many people sadly died from this illness, however, in retrospect many more people have died from contracting more “known” illnesses like the flu. The unknown factors of Covid and the newness of the outbreak played into how closely we watched the effects it had on our population. The flu kills between 250,000 to 500,000 people globally each year. That being said, Kennel Cough (KC), a respiratory infection found in dogs, while typically easily treated, also does kill hundreds of dogs around the world each year. Most aren’t in a heightened state of alarm when their dog gets KC, knowing it can be easily treatable, similar to the flu with the human population.

In November of 2023, there was a “mysterious dog illness” that was said to be “spreading across the nation.” This illness, later named aCIRD, wasn’t treatable with antibiotics and had new symptoms beyond the typical KC symptoms, including a fever. The media loves headlines, and often times those are the first thing our eyes are drawn to in publications and news stories, so this spread like wildfire through the end of 2023, only to later be simplified down to – you named it – Kennel Cough (KC) in 2024. KC is simply a broad term for a contagious respiratory illness that can be caused by a variety of viruses and bacteria. Over my twelve plus years of caring for dogs, KC comes and goes, with some years or strains being highly contagious, while other years, cases are far and few.

Just like humans, many dogs were isolated during the Covid period and were not socialized often. Once life went back to more regular socialization and less mask usage, many humans and dogs fell ill, as their immune systems had been weakened during this period of isolation. I can attest to this myself, having three young sons. After returning to school without masks and starting to socialize with friends more over the past three years, it seems every other month (if not more often) we are dealing with a child that has fallen ill to some sort of virus or illness. But, back to our canine friends – dogs become ill just like us, sometimes falling ill to multiple sicknesses at the same time in some cases.

All this boils down to the fact that there really isn’t a “mysterious” dog illness, it’s more of a combination of different viruses and bacteria making your dog feel ill all at once. I believe many of us humans fell victim to this same scenario over recent years. Now it’s hard to tell if we have a sinus infection, the flu or a case of Covid – if not a combination of sicknesses.  The reality is, some dogs, unfortunately meet their fate to very common illnesses. It happens every year and will continue to happen, from this lifetime to the next.

The best way you can help keep your dog healthy is to make sure they are up to date with your veterinarian’s recommended vaccines. Vaccines help prevent certain diagnosed diseases and can also help temper infections, aiding your dog’s ability to fight the illness and feel better, sooner.

Enjoy the outdoors with your four-legged friends. Fetch, swim, hike, repeat!

About Active Dog

Our focus at Active Dog is to offer a unique, safe and transparent experience for our clients’ dogs. We have been providing group nature hikes and other services for clients living in Fairfield, Litchfield, Dutchess and Westchester counties since 2011. Over the past decade plus, Active Dog have hiked with over 750,000 dogs!

Our 60-90 minute nature hikes include pick up and drop off from your home, exercise, socialization, supervision and daily photos or videos of your dog in action. Your pup will feel like (s)he is going to Disney World every day!

We also offer private hikes, walks, boarding, training and grooming services.

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