Supported by leading animal health company, Zoetis, the board is made up of veterinary specialists from France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Italy, USA and the UK.
Member of the board, Professor Emeritus Michael Day, University of Bristol, UK, says the old terminology for the disease was “kennel cough”. It was often used to describe affected dogs in boarding kennels or shelter situations, however, he reiterated it was complex and considerably more widespread.
“People are usually focused on the fact this might be a disease that affects dogs in daycare, at the dog park or grooming parlour, or in multi-dog households. I think we need to make veterinarians aware that it’s much more widespread than that. The potential for contact and potential for infection isn’t just in those circumstances, but in any situations where dogs come together.”
One of the key points identified in the inaugural meeting is that pet owners and veterinarians should be partnered to provide the best possible disease prevention opportunities for pets.
“It’s important to emphasise to veterinarians that though we’re talking about vaccines for these specific respiratory tract infectious agents, the vaccination needs to be delivered as part of a program where all canine vaccinations are considered together for the benefit of that particular pet.”
Dr Eileen Ball, Global Veterinary Medical Lead for Companion Animal Infectious Diseases with Zoetis, says the board was created with the goal of helping dogs live long, healthy lives and to support the bond that exists between owners and their dogs.
She says the findings from 1,447 interviews with veterinary surgeons throughout Europe highlighted the important role they play in educating and increasing awareness amongst dog owners to fully understand the risks associated with CIRD.
“The risks of respiratory infection are real, however, sometimes there’s a perception that ‘it’s just a cough’,” says Dr Ball. “Respiratory infections can be severe and potentially life threatening.”
Dr Ball says CIRD is a potential risk for all dogs – not just those that are being boarded in kennels – and certain groups of dogs such as puppies, elderly dogs or those with a weakened immune system may have a heightened risk of contracting disease.
Dogs that spend a lot of time in areas where there is a high density of other dogs – such as dog parks, with a dog walker that walks several dogs at a time or dogs at grooming and day care centres are considered to have a higher risk of infection. “Short-nosed, flat-faced brachycephalic breeds may have more profound clinical signs of disease when infected,” she says.
Drinking water from dog bowls in public places that are shared with other dogs, or regularly using common areas such as elevators or lifts in residential buildings are another potential source of infection that can easily be overlooked during a lifestyle discussion.
Also on the Advisory Board are: Assistant Professor Stephan Carey from University of Michigan, USA; Professor Cecile Clercx from University of Liege Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Belgium; Dr Bianka Schulz from Ludwig Maximillian University Munich, Germany; Dr Ludovic Freyburger from VetAgro, France; and Dr David Walker, Head of Medicine at Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists, UK.