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Kennel Cough

I’ve heard that dogs can get kennel cough from a dog kennel – can you guarantee my dog won’t get kennel cough?

We understand how upsetting it can be to have a pet that doesn’t feel well. Unfortunately, we can never guarantee a dog won’t catch kennel cough while boarding, in the same way, your child’s school or daycare can’t guarantee they won’t pick up a cold or flu bug. Kennel cough is possible anywhere there are groups of dogs: kennels, dog parks, doggy daycare, dog groomers – even just on a neighbourhood walk meeting all their furry friends.

However, we can guarantee that we’re going to do everything we can to make that less likely. We have strict vaccine requirements, and stringent cleaning and disinfecting procedures to limit the possibility of kennel cough and other diseases spreading amongst the dogs. You can also rest assured that should a case of kennel cough pop up we have strict procedures to follow to help prevent it from spreading among the other guests.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that dogs are at their most contagious before they even show symptoms, so much like our common cold or flu a dog carrying kennel cough can be infecting other pets without anyone even knowing. Since dogs generally start showing symptoms anywhere from 4 – 14 days after exposure, it’s not uncommon for a dog carrying the disease to come in over a weekend and shed the virus and then go home before even showing symptoms, which makes it very challenging to know where it may have come from.

Always know that we’re doing everything we can to make sure every one of our furry guests stays safe, happy and healthy for their stay.

What exactly is kennel cough anyway?

Kennel cough is known as canine infectious respiratory disease or canine infectious tracheobronchitis. It’s most commonly caused by Bordatella. Similar to a cold or flu for us, there are various strains of the virus that can cause the disease, as well as some types of bacteria. It’s essentially a disease of the upper respiratory tract that causes coughing, wheezing, sneezing and runny eyes/noses.

What are the symptoms?

Again, similar to our cold or flu, the symptoms can vary from case to case. The most common symptom is the cough that gives kennel cough its name. In very mild cases your dog may just occasionally cough or gag a bit after exercise, eating or drinking, or becoming excited. In more severe cases your dog will cough excessively – you’ll recognize it because it’s been described as a ‘goose honk’ cough – and they may cough up phlegm or frothy saliva.

Dogs with more serious cases may not eat and may be lethargic or feverish. Much like a human with a cold or flu, everyone is affected differently.

How did my dog catch it?

The viruses and bacteria that cause kennel cough are airborne, so they’re spread by saliva droplets from coughing, sneezing or even barking. Because dogs tend to put noses and mouths on pretty much everything they meet, its very easy for dogs to spread the disease to one another very quickly. The bacteria and viruses that make up kennel cough can also live for some time on solid surfaces, so it quickly spreads without much warning.

But my dog is vaccinated? How is possible to still get kennel cough?

It’s important to remember that, much like our flu shot, dogs can still get strains of the disease not covered by the vaccine. Vaccination is the first line of defense in trying to prevent the spread of kennel cough, but won’t 100% protect your pet. If your dog does come into contact with the disease and they do contract it, they will likely get a milder case because they are vaccinated.

How long does kennel cough last?

Most mild cases and even more moderate cases will generally clear up in one to two weeks. If your vet is concerned about secondary infection or pneumonia and has prescribed antibiotics it may take longer to clear up. It’s important to remember, however, that even after your dog has stopped coughing, they can still be carrying the disease and should be kept away from other dogs for at least two weeks.

What can I do for my dog if they catch it?

It’s important to make sure your dog is comfortable and eating and drinking normally. If you have any concerns it’s important to see your vet for assessment to be sure your dog isn’t at danger of developing a secondary infection or pneumonia, which can become much more serious. The most important things for your dog are fluids, adequate food and rest. Think of yourself with a cold or flu – you probably just want to rest, so it’s a good idea to avoid heavy exercise with your pet while they’re recovering.