Protecting your dogs from a virus spreading through SWFL

Reporter: Asha Patel Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Dogs at a dog park. Credit: WINK News

A highly contagious virus spreading among dogs has reached Southwest Florida, and veterinarians say we need to be on guard to protect our four-legged friends from it.

Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex was already beginning to pop up in South Florida. Its symptoms include congestion, coughing and a runny nose. Some dogs will also develop kennel cough. Health officials are seeing more cases of CIRDC in dogs from pet stores and shelters, and vets say they are seeing this disease spreading quickly at dog day cares and dog parks.

One veterinarian says a disease like CIRDC is actually expected, especially because so many people bought dogs during the pandemic and are now bringing them out more. The best way to keep your canine companion from getting sick is to avoid gathering with other dogs, keep them up-to-date with their vaccines and make sure you’re taking them to the vet regularly.

One dog owner, though, says he’s not going to keep his dog sheltered because of it.

“Absolutely nobody would like their pets getting sick and dealing with the thoughts of that afterward, but I think if people are watching the dog, picking up after them, just promoting clean atmosphere, I think an outdoor park like this, even though you have that small concern… it’s a benefit for the pets to get out,” said Fort Myers resident Ronald Young.

“I’m sure some of this can happen; we had our dog at home, brought them to a day care and the guy said, ‘There’s some kennel cough here’ and we took our dog home immediately, so nothing happened,” said Pete Douma, visiting Southwest Florida. “But if it happens, they can treat a dog, so I’ll be fine.”

The spike in cases of CIRDC has been so severe in South Florida that a lot of events to which people were meant to take their dogs are being canceled across the Miami area. If your dog does get CIRDC, veterinarians recommend a two-week quarantine to avoid spreading it to other dogs.

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