Canine Cough…….

One of the public relations problems for boarding kennels today is caused by a much misunderstood dog disease called “canine cough”, tracheobronchitis, often improperly referred to as “kennel cough”. As a dog owner you should be aware of some of the facts about this disease.

What is “canine cough”?

Infectious tracheobronchitis is a highly contagious, upper-respiratory disease that is spread by an airborne virus. The incubation period of the disease is roughly 3-7 days. The main symptom is a gagging cough, sometimes accompanied by sneezing and nasal discharge, which can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. Although this coughing is very annoying, it does not usually develop into anything more serious. However, just as with the common cold, it can lower the dog’s resistance to other disease thus increasing susceptibility to secondary infections, and so the dog must be observed closely to avoid complications.

How is it cured?

Just as in the case of the common cold, tracheobronchitis is not “cured” but must run its course. Many times antibiotics will be prescribed to prevent secondary infection, and sometimes cough suppressants will be prescribed to reduce excessive coughing, but these medications do not attack the disease itself.

Does tracheobronchitis occur only in kennels?

No. Since these viruses can be present anywhere, and can travel for considerable distances through the air, they can affect any dog...even one which never leaves its own back yard. But tracheobronchitis is more likely to occur when the concentration of dogs is greater such as dog shows, kennels, veterinarian clinics and hospitals as well as pet shops. Dogs can also be exposed while running loose or while being walked near other dogs. But aren’t the chances of catching it greater when a dog is in a kennel? Yes.... because, in a kennel, a dog encounters two conditions which do not exist at home...proximity to a number of potentially contagious dogs, and the stress and excitement of a less familiar environment, which can result in lowered resistance to disease (these same factors explain why children are more likely to catch the flu in school rather than at home). But the more frequently a dog boards at a kennel, the greater are the chances that he will acquire immunity to the disease. Even during a widespread outbreak, only a fairly small percentage of exposed dogs are affected.

Is it the kennels fault my dog has Canine Cough?

No.. most pet boarding business follow many steps to help prevent the spread of canine cough but as you will read no amount of supervision, sanitation or personal care can prevent a dog from catching an airborne virus. Kennels do everything they can by sterilising and some facility’s even fog kennels with F10 that is designed to prevent and kill off a virus like canine cough. But at the end of the day the virus is spread from pet to pet not
from the kennel. This can also be hard to detect, as you cannot see an airborne virus, and it can take up to 5 to 10 days to show any signs, which means a dog can come into a kennel with canine cough and go home before any signs have shown in the pet. Just like if your child came home from school with a cold it’s no more the fault of the school than it is the fault of a kennel should a pet get canine cough. Canine cough is much like a common cold.

Are these viruses a constant problem?

No. Tracheobronchitis, like the flu, is often seasonal. It also tends to be epidemic. When veterinarians begin to see cases, they normally come from every kennel in the area, as well as from individual dog owners whose dogs are not kennelled at all. When the outbreak is over, they might not see another case for months. Can my dog be vaccinated to protect him against tracheobronchitis? Yes! Vaccines against parainfluenza and adenovirus type 2 (in combination with other vaccines) are routinely used as part of an adult dog’s yearly check-up. Puppies are usually vaccinated for these in combination with distemper, hepatitis, and parvovirus in a series of immunisations. It is important to note that the vaccines that are used to prevent this viral disease are made from one strain of more than 100 different strains of the virus and therefore are not as effective against some strains as others. Intranasal vaccines are also available for Bordetella bronchioseptica (another cause of canine cough). Although some veterinary practices do not use this intra-nasal vaccination routinely, it should be considered for pets that board or for those whose veterinarian recommends it. Your veterinarian is in the best position to recommend a program of preventive health care management depending on your pet’s needs.

Can’t the kennel prevent my dog from catching tracheobronchitis?

Unfortunately, amount of supervision, sanitation, or personalised care can prevent a dog from “catching” an airborne virus. All that a good boarding kennel can do is to strongly recommend immunisation against tracheobronchitis, refuse to board any obviously sick dog, listen and watch for any signs of sickness, and make sure that any dog requiring veterinary attention receives it as quickly as possible. (Strangely, the dog with parainfluenza alone may not appear ill, yet is contagious). Professional boarding kennels would justifiably expect owners to accept the financial responsibility for such care. Your Pet Industry Association member is devoted to your pet’s well-being. Look for his membership certificate proudly displayed. Vaccination Certificates Vaccination certificates MUST be presented EACH time you enter this facility and they will be copied by the facility for your records. To ensure the best If you cannot provide this document your pet may not be allowed to enter the facility. This is to protect your pet and the other pets in this facility. If at any time following your pets stay you are concerned about his/her health, you should always contact your local Veterinarian

Pets are good for society and good for your health!