SAN DIEGO — “We are seeing an unusually large number of upper respiratory viruses impacting dogs in our area,” said Dr. Michele Drake, a veterinarian in Encinitas.

Though there is no cause for panic, Dr. Drake says her clinic — The Drake Center For Veterinary Care — has received several calls from concerned dog owners about the issue.

The culprit that’s causing San Diego County pups and pooches to cough and have significant nasal discharge is Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex, or CIRDC.

Commonly knowns as “kennel cough,” the American Veterinary Medical Association describes CIRDC as a “highly contagious illness affecting the respiratory tract in dogs.” All breeds and ages are reported to be susceptible.

Dr. Drake explained that this illness is easily transmitted by respiratory droplets in the air, meaning dogs who are in settings with other dogs may be exposed. The majority of CIRDC cases are coming from dogs in grouped settings such as shelters, boarding and training facilities.

Though some of these local illnesses are nothing more than mild, the Encinitas veterinarian told FOX 5 some instances of CIRDC have progressed to pneumonia with some dogs needing critical care as a follow up.

More information regarding this growing problem of upper respiratory infections can be found here.

Dr. Drake recommends that pet owners keep their dogs well by making sure they are vaccinated with Bordetella and Canine Influenza vaccines, especially if they are going to be boarding, training or taking their four-legged friends to dog parks. She says that though this may not protect your dog from all types of CIRDC, it will help to mitigate the risk.

Another way to keep your dog well amid this “unusual” uptick in respiratory infections is to avoid group dog settings when possible for a few weeks, Dr. Drake explained.

Approximately 20 cases have been diagnosed at The Drake Center For Veterinary Care in the past two months.