MARCH, 2022 – CURRENT STATUS
Vacation season is here, and we’ve had our first confirmed case of Canine “Kennel” Cough of 2022. It’s been going around again for quite some time, so we’ve been lucky so far!
We are fortunate because we have such a strict vaccine protocol for all of our canine guests, only mild cases have been identified. Once dogs are properly vaccinated, if they contract an illness such as Canine Cough, symptoms are little to none as compared to unvaccinated canines. If your dog is scheduled for an upcoming stay with us and you have any health concerns, please call us prior to arrival. Following is some extensive information on the Canine Cough infection:
Also referred to as “Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex,” the Canine or “Kennel” Cough infection can be caused by many different organisms. Here are the names of just SOME of the common organisms that we can culture from swabs of a dog’s respiratory tract:
Parainfluenza virus (CPiV)
Adenovirus type 2 (CAV2)
Distemper virus (CDV)
Herpes virus (CHV)
Influenza virus H3N8 (H3N8 CIV)
Influenza virus H3N2 (H3N2 CIV)
Respiratory coronavirus (CRCoV) – NOT the same as COVID!
Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria (Bordetella)
Streptococcus zooepidemicus bacteria (Strep zoo)
Mycoplasma cynos bacteria (Mycoplasma)
BUT MY DOG IS VACCINATED – WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?
Unfortunately, we cannot cover many of the organisms with vaccination! We refer to the kennel cough vaccine as the “Bordetella” vaccine (note that this is only ONE of the bugs in the long list above). ALL canine cough vaccines cover Bordetella, which is one of the bacteria that can cause infection. If your dog receives an oral or injectable Bordetella vaccine, these ONLY cover the Bordetella organism. Many dogs that are vaccinated STILL GET SICK while at QK because vaccines just can’t cover everything in the list above. As you know we also require the bivalent influenza vaccination, which IS included in the list above, as well as the Distemper vaccination which is thankfully highly effective at preventing this fatal virus.
WHY ARE DOGS GETTING SICK AT QK IN THE FIRST PLACE?
Dogs that come to QK are under a fair amount of stress with training and being asked to do things they have never done before and don’t necessarily want to do. They may also have never experienced kennel confinement, and are upset by the sudden absence of the creature comforts and family members that spoil them. Add to that many strange dogs and unfamiliar people and their lives are suddenly upside down! This can affect their immune systems, which in turn affects their ability to fight illness.
In addition, if it is safe we allow dogs to socialize at QK, which is like putting a bunch of kids together at daycare – eventually someone is going to get sick, and then it spreads from there.
Unfortunately, QK does not have state-of-the-art isolation facilities, but we try hard to keep sick dogs and healthy dogs separate. However, similar to the recent pandemic of COVID-19, healthy dogs are often “exposed” to a sick dog before signs of illness even develop. Unlike with COVID safety measures, we generally can’t send sick or exposed dogs home immediately because family members are often out of town and the dogs are staying at QK for a reason! They most often cannot just go home to quarantine.
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR CANINE COUGH?
If left alone, most dogs will recover from canine cough on their own WITHOUT TREATMENT. The illness is generally very mild and self-limiting. However, in very few cases it can develop into pneumonia which can be serious and life-threatening. It is impossible to tell which individuals will be more susceptible to significant illness. When a dog is first diagnosed, we can swab the respiratory tract and send this to the lab to try to figure out what organism is causing an issue. The cost for this panel is $250, and most often won’t change the treatment course.
Because of the stress that dogs experience in a kennel environment and the possibility that their immune systems are not functioning optimally, we generally treat them with a course of Doxycycline, which is an antibiotic that targets some of the common bacteria that can be a problem.
We do not have any specific treatments aimed at the many viruses that can be present.
For uncomplicated cases of canine cough, we recommend rest, limiting exercise, avoidance of neck leashes, and avoidance of excitement. Try to get your dog to rest as much as possible!
HOW LONG WILL MY DOG BE SICK?
Generally speaking, the cough lasts 1-2 weeks AT MOST. Dogs will cough more with vigorous activity, or when first getting up in the morning and respiratory secretions that have settled overnight are coughed up.
HOW LONG WILL MY DOG BE CONTAGIOUS TO OTHERS?
The answer to this is: It depends. In an ideal world, your dog should be quarantined from other dogs for 2 WEEKS AFTER THE DOG IS NO LONGER COUGHING. This is to cover for organisms that can have longer “shedding” periods, such as Mycoplasma.
WHAT ARE THE WARNING SIGNS I SHOULD LOOK FOR THAT MIGHT INDICATE I SHOULD SEEK ADDITIONAL VETERINARY ATTENTION FOR MY DOG?
If your dog normally has a ravenous appetite and is suddenly not eating, becomes very lethargic, has purulent nasal discharge, has vomiting/diarrhea so cannot take medications, or has a fever (normal rectal temperature in a dog is up to 102.5 and can easily be taken using a human digital thermometer) you should contact Doc K or your regular veterinarian. Please note that Doc K is generally very responsive to urgent Emails 7 days a week and considers excellent client communication to be a top priority!
SHOULD I EXPECT ANY FURTHER PROBLEMS AFTER MY DOG’S ILLNESS?
No – once a dog is recovered there are generally no long-term ill effects.