December 6, 2023

Mystery Illness? Ruff Club Introducing Dog Walking And New Cleaning Protocols

Alex Klein



In response to a "mysterious respiratory illness" affecting dogs in various North American regions, which has caused concern among pet owners and veterinarians, we at Ruff Club are taking proactive steps to ensure the safety and well-being of our furry members. Although this illness has not been identified in New York, we understand the growing anxiety among local dog owners, as evidenced by decreased dog park attendance and increased caution in shared spaces like apartment elevators.

To address these concerns, Ruff Club is implementing enhanced safety measures for daycare and introducing Dog Walking to maintain the health and happiness of your beloved pets.

What is the mystery illness? What are the symptoms?

This so-called mystery illness affecting dogs has been a topic of concern due to its presentation of symptoms that closely resemble those of Bordetella, canine parainfluenza, and other respiratory infections often grouped under the term "kennel cough," according to Dr. Scott Weese, a veterinarian specializing in infectious diseases.

The symptoms observed include coughing, sneezing, a runny nose and eyes, fever, lethargy, and, in some cases, a loss of appetite. While many dogs seem to recover within a few weeks, some cases have been more severe, leading to prolonged illnesses and even pneumonia.

The similarity of this mystery illness to common respiratory infections in dogs raises questions about its severity and uniqueness. The fact that most cases resolve relatively quickly and without serious complications might suggest it's not an unusually dangerous pathogen. However, the occasional severe cases, including those leading to pneumonia and rare fatalities, add a level of seriousness and concern among pet owners and veterinarians. Given the illness's widespread symptoms and the variation in how different dogs react to the infection, the difficulty in accurately diagnosing the condition makes the situation worse.

Is it a new illness?

The question of whether dogs are being affected by a new illness or a familiar one in greater numbers has been central to the discussion surrounding this respiratory disease. While there have been suspicions and concerns about a novel pathogen, concrete evidence to support this is still lacking. One of the potential new culprits identified in research is a bacterium referred to as IOLA KY405. However, investigations have yet to establish a definitive link between this bacterium and the respiratory outbreaks observed in dogs. The findings so far have not been able to confirm IOLA KY405 as a major contributing factor or as a pathogen capable of causing widespread illness in dogs.

Is it widespread? Has it reached New York?

The suspected spread of this respiratory illness has been reported in numerous states, including California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, and others, leading to concerns about its pervasiveness. However, New York veterinarians haven’t observed this mystery illness in their practices.

Why did this mysterious disease appear now?

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted dog health, largely due to the rise in dog ownership and changes in veterinary care. More households owning dogs, combined with disruptions in regular vet visits and vaccinations, has likely made more dogs prone to respiratory diseases.

Dr. Scott Weese notes that even though social media might exaggerate these health concerns, there's real evidence, like more insurance claims for dog respiratory issues, showing an actual increase in these illnesses. The pandemic's interruption of routine vet care means many dogs haven't gotten their usual protection against common diseases.

Which dogs are most at risk?

Dogs most at risk for the recent respiratory illness include those with pre-existing health conditions, such as chronic illnesses or weakened immune systems. This category also extends to very young puppies and elderly dogs, whose less developed or declining immune systems make them more susceptible. Additionally, certain breeds, particularly brachycephalic breeds like Bulldogs, Pugs, and Boston Terriers, face a higher risk due to their compressed airways, which can compound breathing difficulties during respiratory infections.

The overall health and fitness of a dog also play a pivotal role in their recovery and resilience. Dogs that are regularly exercised and maintain a healthy weight tend to have stronger immune systems and better overall health, equipping them with a greater ability to combat infections.

What Ruff Club is doing about the mystery illness

Changing our Daycare Operating Procedures

As part of our ongoing commitment to the health and safety of our furry guests, we are proactively making changes to our operating procedures in case the mysterious disease makes its way to New York City, such as:

  • Frequent Cleaning of Water Bowls: To minimize the risk of disease transmission, we now clean all water bowls every 20 minutes. This frequent cleaning schedule ensures that our canine guests always have access to fresh and clean water.
  • Use of Veterinarian-Grade Disinfectant: In our quest to maintain a safe and hygienic environment, we have upgraded to a veterinarian-grade disinfectant. This powerful cleaning solution is effective in killing a broad spectrum of viruses and bacteria, ensuring that our facilities meet the highest standards of cleanliness.
  • Proactive Vaccination Reminders: We understand the importance of vaccinations in preventing illnesses. That's why we are proactively reaching out to dog owners whose pets are due for their shots. This measure helps keep all the dogs in our daycare protected and healthy.
  • Strict Admission Policies: To safeguard the well-being of all our canine guests, we have tightened our admission policies. We are now restricting entry to any dog showing even mild symptoms of illness. This policy is crucial in preventing the spread of infections and maintaining a healthy environment for all dogs in our care.

Introducing Dog Walking as a new service

In light of concerns about the recent respiratory illness in dogs, we're introducing a specialized "60-Minute Dog Walking Service," crafted as an alternative exercise option for our members. Priced at $35 per walk, this service is exclusively for our members and focuses on individual, one-on-one walks, ensuring no group or buddy interactions. This approach minimizes your dog's exposure to other pets, providing a safer option during these times of heightened health awareness. By offering this personalized, solitary walking experience, we aim to provide both physical exercise and peace of mind, keeping your dog's health and safety as our utmost priority. To book, text us at (914) 877-2754 or book through the member portal.


As we address concerns regarding the respiratory illness affecting dogs, it's important to note that there have been no reported cases in NYC. As a result, we at Ruff Club are on high alert but vets advise us to advise our community to hold tight on adjusting regular routines, particularly in terms of socialization and exercise for your pets. Keeping dogs active and socially engaged remains essential for their overall well-being.

However, staying informed and proactive about your dog's health is always advisable. Regular veterinary consultations and keeping vaccinations up-to-date are key preventative measures. While the situation is being closely monitored, remember that your team here at Ruff Club and your veterinarian are excellent primary sources for guidance on maintaining your dog's health and safety.

Please let us know if you have any questions. We always want to do what's best for your furry family member’s care.

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