aCRID Alert: Understanding the Mystery Respiratory Illness Plaguing Dogs

Health & Wellbeing
February 28, 2024
Diana Bocco
Reviewed By: 
5 minute read

Over the past few months, an increase in cases of a mysterious respiratory illness among dogs in Canada has sparked a conversation on pet health and safety measures. Known as atypical canine respiratory infectious disease (aCRID), this brand-new and poorly understood condition has raised concerns due to its unusual persistence, potential severity, and lack of a known cure. 

Here's everything you need to know about aCRID, from its symptoms and spread to measures you can take to protect your beloved dog.

What is aCRID?

aCRID is unique among respiratory illnesses because it doesn't seem to be caused by the usual suspects like the canine parainfluenza virus or Bordetella (also known as kennel cough). 

Beginning in the summer of 2022 in New Hampshire, the disease reached its peak between late fall and December 2023. Oregon alone documented over 200 cases during this period. By now, this new illness has been reported in at least 16 American states and has also crossed borders into Canada. 1 

This widespread and somewhat erratic occurrence pattern has only added layers to the mystery, leaving experts in a race against time to understand its origins. But despite the efforts, researchers and veterinarians are still scratching their heads and wondering whether a virus, bacteria, fungus, or a mix of factors is to blame. 2

Symptoms to Watch For

The symptoms of aCRID mimic those of other respiratory infections but are notably persistent. Dogs affected by this illness may exhibit: 3

  • Persistent coughing and sneezing: Unlike typical respiratory infections that resolve within a couple of weeks, aCRID is characterized by a cough and sneeze that are not only persistent but may also intensify over time. The cough can be dry or wet, sometimes producing mucus that can be clear or colored.
  • Difficulty breathing: One of the more alarming symptoms is increased effort or labored breathing. This can manifest as rapid breathing, wheezing, or a noticeable struggle to take breaths. Dogs may extend their necks or open their mouths while trying to breathe, indicating distress.
  • Nasal and eye discharge: Clear or mucus-like discharge from the nose and eyes is common. 
  • Loss of appetite and lethargy: Dogs suffering from this illness often show reduced interest in food and can become noticeably less active. This lethargy may progress to weakness, complicating the dog's recovery.
  • Symptoms that don’t go away: With aCRID, affected dogs can remain ill for six to eight weeks or even longer. This prolonged illness can lead to weight loss and decreased immunity, making dogs more susceptible to other diseases.

In severe cases, dogs may develop acute pneumonia, which can be fatal within one to three days. The severity of the illness doesn't seem to depend on the dog's breed, age, sex, or size, but puppies, older dogs, and those with compromised immune systems are at higher risk. 

Transmission and Spread

The mode of transmission for aCRID remains unclear, though respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing, direct contact with infected dogs, or contaminated objects are suspected. Social settings where dogs congregate, such as daycare centers, parks, and kennels, may facilitate the spread of this illness.

Also, the way this illness pops up in different seasons and places suggests that the weather could play a big role in how easily it spreads, making it even trickier for experts to figure out when and where the next outbreak might happen.

The Challenge of Diagnosis and Treatment

One of the most daunting challenges in confronting aCRID is the absence of a clear diagnostic path. Traditional tests that would typically identify well-known pathogens come back negative, leaving veterinarians to rely on a process of elimination.

What makes aCRID particularly alarming is its resistance to conventional treatments. Antibiotics, often a go-to for bacterial infections, barely make a dent in battling this illness. Antibiotics that are usually effective against bacterial infections seem to have minimal to no effect on this disease. This complicates treatment efforts and leads to cases where dogs require intensive care, such as ventilation or even surgical removal of infected lung tissue.

How to Protect Your Dog

The emergence of aCRID has put dog owners and veterinarians on edge, not only because of the disease's severity but also due to the lack of definitive information about its cause and spread.

Keeping your dog safe from the mysterious grip of aCRID means adopting a proactive approach to their health and environment. Here are some strategies to help shield your furry friend from potential harm:

  • Minimize social contact: Crowded places like dog parks, daycare centers, and pet stores can be hotspots for the spread of infections. If you've heard rumors of aCRID in your neighborhood or nearby, it might be wise to keep your dog's social interactions to a minimum.4
  • Stay vigilant: Keep a close eye on your dog for any signs of illness, such as persistent coughing, sneezing, loss of appetite, or unusual lethargy. 
  • Practice good hygiene: Regularly clean and disinfect objects and areas your dog frequents. Consider wiping your dog's paws and coat with a damp cloth after walks, especially if you've been in areas frequented by other dogs.
  • Boost immune health: A strong immune system can help your dog fend off infections. Ensure your dog is getting a balanced diet, rich in nutrients. Regular exercise and check-ups are also crucial for keeping your dog in top health.
  • Seek veterinary advice: Keep up to date with the latest news on aCRID, including any reports of outbreaks in your area. And if your dog shows signs of respiratory distress, consult your veterinarian immediately for guidance and to discuss treatment.5


The rise of aCRID is a stark reminder of the importance of vigilance in pet health and the need for ongoing research into animal diseases. While the scientific community continues to search for answers, dog owners should take proactive steps to protect their pets from this mysterious illness. The good news? The Oregon Veterinary Medical Association reports that as of February 2024, “cases of canine infectious respiratory disease complex (CIRDC) around most of the US and Canada seem to be waning.”6

By staying informed and embracing a holistic approach to pet care that incorporates a balanced diet through tailored, wholesome, fresh meals, regular veterinary check-ups, and mindfulness about your dog's environment, you can help keep your furry friend as healthy and happy as possible.  

about cola's precision diet

Cola's Kitchen precision diet is the first truly tailored diet for a unique approach to nutrition. Our diets are individually formulated and balanced to address the most precise nutritional requirements of your pup.

learn more
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.