Kennel cough in your Vail Valley Pet

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Kennel cough in your Vail Valley Pet

As a local emergency on call veterinarian, I get a lot of calls on specific topics so I have elected to start mentioning those topics. As of late, there is an outbreak of "kennel cough" in our valley and I thought I would start with this topic.

It was 6:30 am and my emergency phone rang.  “Doc, my dog is coughing really hard. He acts as though he’s got something stuck in his throat and I’m really worried. Can I come right in?”

Over the past week, this has been a common call here in the Vail Valley for we veterinarians, both during office hours and after hours, as there has been a rise in the number of cases of what we call “Kennel Cough.”“Kennel Cough” , otherwise called “Bordetella” has classic symptoms consisting of a dry, hacking, yet forceful cough, as though your pet is trying to “clear the throat” or “cough something up.”

Some dogs with “kennel cough” may also show other symptoms of upper respiratory illness, such as sneezing, a runny nose, as well as ocular (eye) discharge. Most pets are not lethargic, and do not stop eating or drinking when infected with kennel cough.

Although the cough can be alarming for many unknowing pet owners, it is not considered a veterinary emergency, unless your pet is already ill from another systemic virus, or immune compromised, in which case it can become a bigger health risk for your pet.

“Kennel Cough” or “Bordetella” is commonly found where pets congregate, such as boarding facilities, doggy day care, grooming facilities, dog shows and dog parks. Dogs spread the disease thru both airborne methods, ie. Touching noses, or breathing out the virus which another pet shall inhale, or thru coming in contact with contaminated surfaces such as water bowls and kennels where an infected pet has just been.

The method of contracting this disease usually involves your pet coming in contact with the Bordetella Bronchiseptica species, but often times, your pet aquires a virus at the same time. Viruses such as the canine adenovirus, canine distemper virus, the parainfluenza virus, as well as mycoplasma, can all be factors in the development of the kennel cough cascade. Dogs aquire these organisms thru their respiratory tract, and the particles get caught in the mucous and subsequently cause inflammation of both the larynx (voice box) and the trachea(wind pipe) which results in that dry, hacking yet forceful cough you here when your pet is infected.

With mild forms of the disease, your pet will get better just with rest. It is very important to contact your veterinarian so that he/she may determine the best course of action for your pet based on the symptoms. Often times your veterinarian will prescribe anti-tussive medications (cough medicine) as well as antibiotics for infection.  Your veterinarian may also recommend taking your pet’s collar off and utilizing a harness, so as to relieve pressure on the upper respiratory tract, as well as rest and no contact with other dogs. Luckily, your pet will recover quickly.

How do you prevent this? There is an oral, injectable, and nasal vaccination available for Bordetella, which, depending on your veterinarian and your area, can be boostered every 6 months to a year.Unfortunately, because “kennel cough” can also be caused by other agents as mentioned above, it is not guaranteed that your pet cannot develop “kennel cough” from these other agents.  Still, if your pet will be frequenting the kennel, groomer, dog parks and other congregated areas, ask your veterinarian as to what his/her current protocol for prevention is.

Finally, be smart! If your pet is coughing, segregate him/her from other dogs. In addition, remember that “kennel cough” is not the ONLY reason for coughing in pets. Your pet may also have other conditions including but not limited to , collapsing trachea (common in little dogs), allergic bronchitis, asthma, neoplasia, or even heart disease, so please don’t hesitate to contact your veterinarian and have your pet evaluated.

We look forward to seeing you!