Vail Pet Talk column: Kennel cough is on the move
We are so lucky to live in a place where dogs are such cherished members of the family. We take them to the dog park, on long walks, on hikes, to concerts … the list is endless! One downside to all of this fun is that your pup may be exposed to an illness from one of his buddies.
We have been seeing a significant amount of kennel cough lately at our clinic, not only in those dogs that board or go to doggie day care but also in those that stay at home most of the time and have just the occasional nose-sniff with another dog while on a walk.
ABOUT THE DISEASE
Kennel cough is also known as infectious tracheobronchitis, a highly infectious upper respiratory disease. Younger dogs are commonly more susceptible to this due to their naive immune systems, but we see it in all ages. One of the more common causes of kennel cough is a bacteria called Bordetella bronchiseptica, which is easily transmissible between dogs.
Dogs that become infected with kennel cough typically have a dry, hacking cough that may be followed by gagging. The gagging sometime produces a small amount of white foam or mucus. Most dogs remain happy and otherwise normal through this illness, but occasionally, a dog may experience a fever, nasal discharge, lethargy or difficulty breathing. Progression from the upper to lower respiratory tract is possible, leading to pneumonia in rare cases.
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As most dog owners know, we can vaccinate against kennel cough. However, proper vaccination does not provide 100 percent immunity to disease. Transmission is via the respiratory tract, meaning dogs can get it by sniffing another dog or getting sneezed on by another dog. Those pets that visit the groomer, dog parks or boarding facilities are exposed to other dogs frequently are at more risk for infection.
In most healthy dogs, kennel cough is a self-limiting infection, meaning it should resolve with time on its own. There are times that antibiotics are still prescribed in order to expedite resolution of infection.
Be sure to contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns regarding a cough or anything else with your dog (or cat!). We can’t wait to see everyone out and about with their pets as the warm weather heads our way.
Liz Foster, DVM, is an associate veterinarian at Mountain Mobile Vet and The Animal Hospital Center. She can be reached at 970-328-7085.