SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Lifestyle

December 27, 2013

Protecting your pet against kennel cough

Whether you refer to it as “kennel cough” or, more properly, “infectious tracheobronchitis,” many people are unaware of how common this illness really is. In fact, many pet owners often refuse to vaccinate their dogs for this disease. So, how can a bordetella vaccine be helpful even if your pet is never boarded?

It’s a common comment heard in many veterinary hospitals: “We don’t need the kennel cough vaccination; we never board or kennel our dog.” Despite the owner’s insistence that their pet isn’t at risk, most people would be surprised to find out that this disease can be found in a wide variety of places.

Infectious tracheobronchitis, more commonly known as “kennel cough,” is a communicable bronchitis in dogs that is often found anywhere dogs congregate. Naturally, boarding kennels come to mind, but quite often, people will forget that grooming salons, dog parks, pet superstores or even their favorite veterinary hospital can also be potential sources of infection.

Dogs who contract tracheobronchitis will produce a rough, hacking cough that many owners will describe as the pet trying to cough something up or even retch. Spasms or coughing fits are not uncommon, and some people relate that their pets seem worse at night.

Kennel cough can be caused by a wide variety of organisms, including canine adenoviruses, canine distemper virus and a bacterial species that goes by the name of bordetella bronchiseptica. Other viruses, such as canine herpesviruses or reoviruses are also thought to contribute to the disease, and it is not uncommon to see more than one pathogen involved.

Infected dogs will spread viruses or bacteria through airborne particles where healthy dogs can inhale them. In some cases, the germs can also spread via toys or food dishes. Dogs that are exposed will generally show signs of illness within two to 14 days and may act sick for an additional two weeks. In many cases, the disease is very mild, and your pup may never run a fever or act as if anything is wrong. However, this is a disease that can progress to a life-threatening pneumonia called canine infectious respiratory disease.

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