Bordetella-Kennel Cough

General Information

Canine Cough (Dog Flu) Happens! Like humans, dogs can catch the flu, or a cold, anywhere! Tracheobronchitis is sometimes called: Canine Cough, Kennel Cough, Canine Cold, or the Dog Flu. Canine Cough, like the common cold, is often seasonal. Bordetella vaccinations, like human flu shots, may offer some protection. We strongly recommend Bordetella vaccinations, with a booster every 6 months.1st vaccination should be given 7 to 14 days before exposure to other dogs. Follow your veterinarians vaccination recommendations.. One of the public relations problems for boarding kennels today is caused by a much misunderstood dog disease called "Canine Cough", tracheobronchitis, or often improperly referred to as "kennel cough". As a dog owner you should be aware of some of the facts about this disease.                                              

What is "Canine Cough"?                             

Infectious tracheobronchitis is a highly contagious, upper respiratory disease which is spread by an airborne virus. The incubation period of the disease is roughly 3 to 10 days. The main symptom is a gagging cough, sometimes accompanied by sneezing and nasal discharge, which can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. Although this coughing is very annoying, it does not usually develop into anything more serious. However, just as with the common cold, it can lower the dog's resistance to other diseases making him susceptible to secondary infections, and so he must be observed closely to avoid complications.                                             

How is it cured?                                                       

 Just as in the case of the common cold, tracheobronchitis is not "cured" but must run its course.  Many time antibiotics will be prescribed to prevent secondary infection, and sometimes cough suppressants will be prescribed to reduce excessive coughing, but these medications do not attack the disease itself. (Robitussin)                  

Does tracheobronchitis occur only in kennels?         

 No.  Since these viruses can be present anywhere, and can travel for considerable distances through the air, they can affect any dog... even one which never leaves its own backyard. But tracheobronchitis is more likely to occur when the concentration of dogs is greater, such as at dog shows, kennels, veterinarian offices and hospitals as well as pet shops.  Dogs can also be exposed while running loose or while being walked near other dogs.                            

But aren't the chances of catching it greater when a dog is in a kennel? Yes...                                      

Because, in a kennel, a dog encounters two conditions which do not exist at home... proximity to a number of potentially contagious dogs, and the stress and excitement of a less familiar environment, which can result in a lowered resistance to disease (these same factors explain why children are more likely to catch the flu in school rather than at home).  But the more frequently a dog boards at a kennel, the greater are the chances that he will acquire immunity to the disease.  Even during a widespread outbreak, only a fairly small percentage of exposed dogs are affected.                        

Are these viruses a constant problem?               

 No.  Tracheobronchitis, like the flu, is often seasonal.  It also tends to be epidemic.  When veterinarians begin to see cases, they normally come from every kennel in tow, as well as from individual dog owners whose dogs were not kenneled at all.  When the outbreak is over, they might not see another case for months.                                                   

Can my dog or cat be vaccinated to protect him against tracheobronchitis?                                       

Yes!  Vaccines against Parainfluenza and Adenovirus type 2 (in combination with other vaccines) are routinely used as part of an adult dog's yearly check-up.  Puppies are usually vaccinated for these in combination distemper, hepatitis, and parvovirus in a series of immunizations.  It is important to note that the vaccines that are used to prevent this viral disease are made from on strain of over 100 different strains of the virus and therefore are not as effective against some strains as others.  Intra-nasal vaccines are also available for Bordetella bronchiseptica (another cause of canine cough).  Although some veterinary practices do not use this intra-nasal vaccination routinely, it should be considered for pets that board or for those whose veterinarian recommends it.  Your veterinarian is in the best position to recommend a program of preventive health care management depending on your pet's needs.                

Can't the kennel prevent my dog from catching tracheobronchitis?                                            

Unfortunately, no... No amount of supervision, sanitation, or personalized care can prevent a dog from "catching" and airborne virus.  All that a good boarding kennel can do is to recommend immunization against tracheobronchitis, refuse to board any obviously sick dog, listen and watch for any signs of sickness, and make sure that any dog requiring veterinary attention receives it as quickly as possible.  (Strangely, the dog with parainfluenza alone may not appear ill, yet is contagious.)  You have a right to expect a kennel to provide the best possible care just as a kennel has a right to expect you to accept financial responsibility for such care.  Your American Boarding Kennels Associationmember is devoted to your pet's well being.  Look for his membership certificate proudly displayed.                                            

What if my dog starts coughing?                       

Don't Panic!  Like a common cold, canine cough (dog flu) will run its course. Robitussin-DM cough suppressant (child dosage) will reduce coughing. Although the coughing is annoying, it usually does not develop into anything more serious.  However, if the cough persists or worsens, you should contact your Veterinarian.  To many, the term "kennel cough" means that this disease can only be contracted from a kennel. However, exposure to Kennel cough most often occurs at dog shows, kennels, Vet's offices, Groomers or any place there are a number of dogs.                                                                           

Kennel cough is a highly contagious disease affecting the respiratory system of dogs. It is influenced by various environmental factors, usually produced by a combination of bacterial and viral agents.  The major sign of kennel cough is a spontaneous, dry, hacking cough that is easily induced. Owners may suspect that the dog has something caught in its throat, or that it is trying to vomit. Most cases of canine kennel cough will resolve in 10 days to 3 weeks, but owners can make their dogs more comfortable by minimizing the coughing with a cough suppressant obtained from their veterinarian. The dog should definitely be seen by the veterinarian if the disease persists longer than 2 weeks or the animal begins to show systemic signs, that is, acts depressed, has a fever, has lost its appetite, is not drinking as much water as normal, or is just plain acting sick.  Generally, 7 to 10 days is required after exposure to an infected animal before a dog develops the characteristic cough. Antibiotics may be prescribed if the disease is systemic, but their usefulness is questionable.  Vaccinating your pet with a good intranasal Bordatella vaccine is essential to trying to prevent this disease.  However, there are many strains of Bordatella, and a vaccine doesn’t guarantee immunity anymore than a flu shot guarantees we won’t get the flu.  Another preventative measure would be to have your veterinarian give your pet an annual booster if you feel your dog is at high exposure to other dogs.

 If you suspect your dog of having kennel cough he should be isolated from other dogs so that he cannot transmit the disease. However, since an infected dog will not begin coughing for approximately 7 days after it has picked up the disease, any dogs that come in contact with it during that time may already have picked up the disease and should be observed carefully for any signs of this disease.

Canine Distemper

General Information

Canine distemper virus may occur wherever there are dogs. It is the greatest single disease threat to the world's dog population.

Younger dogs and puppies are the most susceptible to infection. Among puppies, the death rate from distemper often reaches 80%. The disease also strikes older dogs, although much less frequently.

Even if a dog does not die from the disease, its health may be permanently impaired. A bout with canine distemper can leave a dog's nervous system irreparably damaged, along with its sense of smell, hearing or sight. Partial or total paralysis is not uncommon, and other diseases — particularly pneumonia — frequently strike dogs already weakened by a distemper infection.

Cats are not susceptible to canine distemper. The so-called "cat distemper" is a different disease caused by a different virus. Neither disease is transmissible to humans.

What Does Distemper Do?   

Canine distemper is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus.

Canine distemper virus is most often transmitted through contact with respiratory secretions. Contact with the urine and fecal material of infected dogs can also result in infection.

The many signs of distemper are not always typical. For this reason, treatment may be delayed or neglected. The disease frequently brings about something like a severe cold. Most infected dogs have a fever and "stuffed up" head. Exposed animals may develop bronchitis, pneumonia and severe inflammation of the stomach and intestines.

The first signs of distemper an owner might notice are squinting, congestion of the eyes, and a discharge of pus from the eyes. Weight loss, coughing, vomiting, nasal discharge, and diarrhea are common. In later stages the virus frequently attacks the nervous system, bringing about partial or complete paralysis as well as "fits" or twitching. Dogs suffering from the disease are usually listless and have poor appetites.

Sometimes the signs may be very mild and perhaps go unrecognized, or the dog may have a slight fever for a couple of weeks. If pneumonia, intestinal inflammation or other problems develop, recovery takes much longer. Nervous problems often last many weeks after the animal has recovered from all other signs of infection. Occasionally the virus causes rapid growth of the tough keratin cells on the footpad, resulting in a hardened pad.

 Distemper is so prevalent and the signs so varied that any sick young dog should be taken to a veterinarian for a definite diagnosis.

Prevention and Protection   
Dogs that survive a natural infection usually develop sufficient immunity to protect them from distemper the rest of their lives. Many dogs — particularly pups — do not survive a naturally-acquired infection. The safest protection is vaccination.

Puppies born to dogs which are immune to distemper acquire a degree of natural immunity from nursing. This immunity is acquired through substances in the colostrum, which is the milk produced by the mother the first few days after giving birth. The degree of protection a pup receives varies in proportion to the amount of antibody its mother has, but the protection diminishes rapidly.

Your veterinarian can determine the most advantageous time to begin vaccination based upon his or her experience and the general health of your dog. Ask your veterinarian about a recommended vaccination schedule.


Canine Parvovirus

General Information

Since 1978 dogs of all ages and breeds have been victims of a highly contagious viral disease that attacks the intestinal track, white blood cells, and in some cases the heart muscle. This disease, Canine Parvovirus (CPV) infection, has appeared worldwide.

CPV infection is spread by dog-to-dog contact and has been diagnosed wherever dogs congregate, including dog shows, obedience trials, breeding and boarding kennels, pet shops, humane shelters, parks and playgrounds.

A dog that is confined to a house or yard and is rarely in contact with other dogs is far less likely to be exposed to the virus. CPV infection can only be transmitted to dogs and other canids, not to other types of animals or people, but animals and people can carry it to your dog.

The source of infection is fecal waste from infected dogs. Large amounts of the virus may be present in fecal material of infected dogs. The virus is resistant to extremes in environmental conditions and can survive for long periods. It is readily transmitted from place to place on the hair or feet of infected dogs or by contaminated cages, shoes, or other objects. Definitive information on other means of transmission, if any, is lacking.

How Can You Tell If A Dog Has CPV Infection?   

The first signs of CPV infection are depression, loss of appetite, vomiting, and severe diarrhea. Rectal temperatures may be raised. These signs will most often appear 5-7 days after the dog is exposed to the virus. At the onset of illness, the feces will generally be light gray or yellow-gray. Sometimes, the first sign will be fluid feces streaked with blood.

Dogs may dehydrate rapidly due to vomiting and diarrhea. Some dogs may vomit repeatedly and have projectile and bloody diarrhea until they die. Others may have loose feces and recover without complications.

Most deaths occur within 48-72 hours following the onset of clinical signs. Pups suffer most with shock-like deaths, occurring as early as two days after the onset of illness. In the past, a high percentage of pups less than five months old and 2-3% of older dogs died from this disease. Now, due to widespread vaccination, these percentages have decreased dramatically.

Puppies, between weaning and six months of age are at increased risk of acquiring the disease. There appears to be a higher risk of severe disease in certain breeds (e.g. Rottweiller and Doberman Pinscher).

How Is CPV Infection Diagnosed and Treated?   

Aveterinarian will make the initial diagnosis based on clinical signs but only after considering other causes of vomiting and diarrhea. Evidence of rapid spread in a group of dogs is strongly suggestive of CPV infection and may be confirmed by testing feces for the virus. Some tests may be available in your veterinarian's office. Your veterinarian may choose to send samples to an outside laboratory, however. There are no specific drugs that kill the virus in infected dogs.

Treatment of CPV infection, which should be started immediately, consists primarily of efforts to combat dehydration by replacing electrolyte and fluid losses, controlling vomiting and diarrhea, and preventing secondary infections with antibiotics.

Sick dogs should be kept warm and be provided good nursing care.

Prevention and Protection   

With a few exceptions, dogs of any age should be vaccinated to prevent CPV infection. Unless the actual immune status of a pup or litter is known, it is recommended that a series of vaccinations be given to provide adequate protection. Ask your veterinarian about a recommended vaccination schedule.

Proper cleaning and disinfection of kennels and other areas where dogs are housed is essential to control spread of the virus. Remember, the virus is capable of existing in the environment for many months unless the area is thoroughly cleaned. Sodium hypochlorite solution, such as one-quarter cup household bleach in 1 gallon of water, is an effective disinfectant.

An owner should not allow a dog to come in contact with fecal waste of other dogs when walking in a park or playground or along city streets. This is especially true until six months of age. Prompt and proper disposal of waste material is always advisable. Check lawns, sidewalks, and street gutters for fecal waste from neighborhood dogs, and urge friends to do the same.

If you are unsure whether this disease is affecting dogs in your community, check with a veterinarian. The risk of exposure can be reduced if you prevent your dog from contacting other dogs in areas where the incidence of CPV infection is alarmingly high.

                 Don't Wait... VACCINATE!                   

Keep ALL vaccinations current!