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Emergency Response Protocols

As many of you may have heard, there is a respiratory illness outbreak amongst dogs in Illinois and other states. Currently there are no reported cases of dogs who have been cared for at our facility.

Rest assured that Sit Social always sanitizes our spaces thoroughly as part of our daily routines, and maintains a vaccinated dogs only environment. We are also very transparent and will notify all clients should any cases be reported to us.

No Cases at Sit Social

Sit Social has not encountered any cases of this illness at this point. If your dog has been here and has developed the illness, we kindly ask that you notify us right away.

Should your dog exhibit any of the following symptoms, we ask that you take them to be evaluated by your veterinarian, keep them home from our facility, and notify us of any updates so that we may take appropriate measures.

Symptoms of the mystery dog illness include:

  • Coughing that doesn't get better on its own after a week or so

  • Sneezing

  • Nasal or eye discharge

  • Lethargy

  • Trouble breathing, especially from the stomach

  • Blue or purple gums (due to not getting enough oxygen)

Make certain your dog is up to date on respiratory vaccines including:

  • Canine Influenza Virus (CIV)

  • Bordetella

  • Parainfluenza

Number of Cases

News stories are saying there are hundreds of cases across the country, including some in Chicago, out of many millions of dogs. It is not considered a pandemic at this point.

While the news may be concerning, the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association’s website states: "We suggest caution rather than worry. Periodic outbreaks of Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC) can occur in a dog population." Oregon has experienced recent cases and is aggressively pursuing a solution.

The association also says that in the cases they have reviewed, "Most dogs, especially those vaccinated against respiratory illness, experience a mild illness" if they catch the virus.


According to veterinarians, symptoms can include coughing, sneezing, eye or nasal discharge, and lethargy or pneumonia for more advanced cases.

Some news stories mention that a small percent of dogs have died who had the illness. However, according to Dr. David Needle, a pathologist at the New Hampshire Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, "Fatalities do not seem to be a large part of the syndrome we are investigating, with rare animals developing an acute and sometimes fatal pneumonia after the longer chronic disease. We think these may represent secondary infections."

If your dog has a minor cough, that does not necessarily mean it is due to the virus. You should consult with your vet if you have questions.

Treatment and Recovery

As stated above, most of the affected dogs they have analyzed have experienced mild symptoms, especially those vaccinated against respiratory illness.

Veterinarians treat cases according to the severity of symptoms. Treatment may include antibiotics, especially if a bacterial infection is suspected. With treatment in a timely manner, most pets will recover over the course of 1-2 weeks.

With respiratory illness, dogs at the highest risk are those who have compromised immune systems, are of advanced age, or have underlying health issues.

The most important factor is that if your dog starts to show symptoms, to go see your vet right away for treatment. We recommend calling first, so you don't bring a sick dog into their lobby.

We also recommend ensuring that your dog's Canine Influenza and Bordatella vaccinations are current.

2015 Canine Influenza Outbreak

In 2015, there was an outbreak of canine influenza across the country, that had very similar symptoms and treatment. A vaccination was developed that significantly reduced the number and impact of cases. We have been recommending clients get this vaccine upon registering for services with us.

Canine respiratory illnesses have been in the United States since then (including in Chicago), and will likely continue in the future. We have not had any known cases of canine influenza at our facility at any time.

This situation may be similar, but researchers need more time to tell. They do believe that the canine influenza vaccination will help, since it fights respiratory illness.

Possible Causes

Vets and researchers suspect that the illness is likely due to canine-specific bacteria that has adapted and become virulent. If this is the case, this would mean that if a dog has contracted the virus, then coughs or sneezes, the bacteria can be passed to others in tiny droplets through the air. For example, this could occur in a high-rise where dogs are in elevators, hallways, lobbies, stairwells, and even common play areas. It can also be passed in group play, such as at daycare or the dog park.

Until we are told differently, we are assuming that this is the likely explanation, based on the events of the Canine Influenza outbreak in 2015 in Chicago.

Please note that dogs can be carriers of respiratory viruses, even though they don't show signs themselves.

In addition, it normally takes several days for respiratory illnesses to develop into visible symptoms. If your dog is coughing today, it likely picked up the virus at least 2-3 days prior.

Coming to Sit Social

We will be remaining open as normal, and are continuing to take dogs for all of our services each and every day. Unless your dog is at high risk, we do not recommend that you stop coming. This is especially true since it may take months for researchers to develop a solution, which could possibly be a new vaccination. If you live in the city, especially in a high-rise, the source is an airborne illness as suspected, and the situation becomes widespread, your dog will likely become exposed one way or another at some point.

Safety is our top concern. We employ a number of precautionary measures to keep the facility as safe as possible for your dog:

  • We do not accept any dog into our facility who is coughing or showing any signs of illness. If your dog is coughing or otherwise symptomatic, we ask that you tell us immediately, and seek veterinary care right away. You would need to show proof of veterinary treatment before coming back.

  • All customers must show written proof of vaccinations for all dogs who come to our facility. This includes for Canine Influenza, which helps dogs prevent and fight off respiratory viruses

  • We clean our facility each day, using cleaning agents that are effective at killing canine-specific bacteria, while still being safe for dogs.

  • If your dog is here with us and starts to cough, we would contact you right away. If your dog is boarding with us, we would seek veterinary care immediately, and have tools for monitoring your dog's health if necessary.

We invite you to call us with any questions or concerns.

Should any cases be reported to us of dogs who have been in our facility, we will immediately notify clients and may opt to shut down the facility for a short period of time so that all dogs in our care may be tested and safe to return.

We also receive email communications from the city and state regarding this issue, and will adhere to their recommendations. For the time being, we will continue to stay open and monitor for next steps. Thank you for supporting my small woman owned business, and we hope you are taking great care of yourself and your furry family members this winter season.


Victoria Elena Nones

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