Over this past year, all of us have become more familiar with understanding viruses and how they spread. While we have been focused on how viruses spread to people, it’s important to be aware of the ways viruses can be spread to our furry friends as well. One of the most common viruses that’s rearing it’s ugly head this time of year, is canine cough.
What is canine cough?
The virus, also known as kennel cough, is a common and highly contagious respiratory disease. Unfortunately, as we all learned in the last 18 months, it is impossible to entirely safeguard against viruses such as canine cough. Just like the human flu shot, even after being vaccinated, dogs may still acquire kennel cough (although the virus is typically less severe). Similar to the human coronavirus, this doggie virus can incubate for up to two weeks, meaning that dogs may appear perfectly healthy, but could still be carrying this virus.
The virus is highly contagious and can spread through the air or by direct contact. It is comparable to a human chest cold. Most often, the infection will clear within one to three weeks.
What should you look for?
There are specific symptoms that are characteristic of the canine cough, such as runny nose, watery eyes and a “hacking” cough. Occasionally the cough can cause a dog to retch or vomit. Often, clients will describe the sound saying it’s like “something was stuck in my dog’s throat” or like “a cat trying to hack up a hairball.” If you want to listen to what a standard cough sounds like, click here.
While it is difficult to see your pup in pain, most of the time, the canine cough does not warrant serious concern or alarm. However, if you notice any changes in your dog’s personality or eating habits in addition to the cough, you should bring this to your trusted veterinarian’s attention immediately. A temperature and any changes in behavior would indicate something more severe such as pneumonia or canine influenza (currently not in our area).
What can you do to help?
None of us ever want our furbabies to suffer, so it is wise to do what you can to prevent your dog from getting canine cough and to be prepared if your dog gets it. The first thing you can do is vaccinate your pup against the kennel cough. While it cannot protect against all strains of the virus, it would decrease the chances of your dog getting sick with it, and it should decrease the severity of symptoms if your dog does get the virus. You should stay vigilant about current vaccination protocols as recommended by your veterinarian and refrain from contact with any dogs if your pup has just received nasal drops or mouth spray as a method of delivery of a Bordetella vaccination.
Also, refrain from moving between different daycares and going to dog parks during an outbreak. If you do notice ANY symptoms of canine cough in your dog, please do not bring your pup to daycare. In addition, do not bring your dog to daycare within 48 hours of receiving the live Bordetella vaccine to prevent other puppies from getting sick.
Finally, take good care of your dog! Be aware that canine cough can be picked up at kennels, dog parks, daily walks with other dogs, inanimate objects, or anywhere dogs are near one another. It is impossible to protect your dog completely from the kennel cough, and if your dog gets canine cough, it is not an indication of a ‘dirty’ facility or that your pet care provider did something wrong. Regardless, do what you can to protect your dog beforehand, and if your dog gets it, take care of them, and pay close attention to them. Canine cough is usually self-limiting but can sometimes be severe enough to warrant medications. The strength, duration and type of medication is largely dependent on age and severity of symptoms and can include over-the-counter cough medicines and/or prescription antibiotics.
How does Pets a Go Go prevent it? At Pets a Go Go, we take the health of all the furbabies entrusted in our care very seriously. We require all dogs that stay with us for our Sit Stay Play program to be vaccinated against this virus. We use disinfectants that kill the virus and have a UV filtration system that provides hospital grade air. We also spray down all crates, ex-pens and grooming surfaces between guests, and launder all bedding and toys daily with bleach and/or sanitize through our dishwashers.
It’s impossible to prevent canine cough completely, but it is important to be aware of it. As a puppy parent, you should know what to look for, how to prevent it as much as you can, and how to help your dog if they get the virus. Late spring, summer and early fall are the peak seasons for kennel cough, so this is the perfect time to learn and prepare! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call one of our locations if you have any more questions on the canine cough.