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What we need to know about the real “Kennel Cough”

What is “kennel cough”? Kennel cough is also known as Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRD) or Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis. This condition is not limited to the trachea and/or coughing.  Some of the clinical signs may include sneezing, coughing, nasal and/or eye discharge, fever, lethargy, difficulty breathing and sometimes could include lung disease, such as pneumonia.

A common misconception about the disease is that only pets that go boarding or spend time at a kennel are at risk. This confusion can come from the similarity between the name of one of the causative agents, Bordetella bronchiseptica, and the word “boarding”. Pets that are around other dogs at the dog park, neighborhood, grooming facilities, and doggie day care centers are all at risk of becoming infected.

It is important to know that Bordetella bronchiseptica is not the only cause of “kennel cough”. The CIRD Complex is caused by multiple highly contagious bacteria, viruses and secondary bacterial organisms that can complicate the original infection. As pet owners, we have our dogs vaccinated with the “kennel cough vaccine” or “Bordetella” and we believe that our pets are protected against all the CIRD Complex organisms. The best protection from the CIRD Complex diseases is prevention.  The good news is that we have vaccines for the most common organisms. There are vaccines against Adenovirus 2, Herpesvirus 1, CIV H3N8, CIV H3N2, Canine Distemper, Parainfluenza virus, and Bordetella bronchiseptica.  Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) vaccines are the most recent vaccines to come on the market. After multiple cases of dogs infected with the Canine Influenza Virus (CIV) in the state of Georgia, including Cherokee county, The University of Georgia released the following statement recommending Canine Influenza Vaccine H3N2/H3N8 vaccination:

Canine influenza vaccination is considered a “non-core” vaccine and is recommended for socially active dogs, such as those that travel, are boarded with other dogs, or are exposed to dog shows or dog parks. The risk factors for Bordetella infection and canine influenza are the same and it only takes a single infected dog to bring the virus into a new area. Consult a veterinarian for more information about the vaccination and to decide if your dog has a lifestyle that would support administration of the vaccine.”

We recommend having your pet up-to-date with all the necessary vaccines a few weeks prior to boarding, grooming, visiting the dog park, and any other exposure to dogs. Also, ask your groomer and boarding facility which vaccines are required for admission. A good facility will require or recommend having your dog vaccinated for Canine Distemper, Adenovirus 2, Parainfluenza virus (DA2PP Vaccine), Rabies, Bordetella and Canine Influenza Virus H3N2/H3N8, as all of these infectious organisms are very contagious and can cause serious disease.

If your dog develops any of the symptoms related to CIRD Complex, please notify your veterinarian immediately. Remember, these diseases are very contagious and may spread to other pets by sneezing or coughing, but also by fomites, which are inanimate objects, such as clothing and food bowls, that are capable of transmitting infectious diseases.  Your veterinarian should be able to test and try to identify the cause of the CIRD Complex. If treatment is needed, it should start immediately to improve the comfort of the pet and to potentially prevent serious complications, such as pneumonia.

“Let’s protect our family by protecting our pets”.  Dr. Bustelo

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Woodstock Veterinary Hospital

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Woodstock, GA 30188

Phone: 770-926-3722

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