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Kennel Cough

April 26th 2016

There has been a minor outbreak of kennel cough in dogs in the district. I have also been informed that one of the local kennels is in self-imposed quarantine due to KC rearing it's ugly head in a dog in care there.

KC is caused by two organisms. Firstly, an influenza virus attacks the lining of the respiratory system, then the nasty bacteria Bordetella Bronchiseptica invades secondarily and causes the clinical signs we see.

KC causes coughing as the major sign in most dogs - a harsh, barky cough that goes on and on, and can persist for weeks. Contagious droplets are expelled with each cough, and dogs may have a mild fever. In the very young, the compromised, and the very old the infection can progress to pneumonia which can be life threatening (though normal healthy dogs rarely move to this stage). It is extremely contagious through respiratory droplets, or nasal and ocular discharges.

Vaccination against KC is mandatory for all visitors to kennels, because it IS so contagious and dogs are kept in close quarters in kennels. So if it makes it's way into there it'll spread like wildfire. The vaccine is partially protective; which means that while dogs can still get KC while vaccinated, the duration and severity is greatly reduced. Some of the snub-nosed breeds may also show signs of a mild KC for a few days after vaccination due to stimulation of the immune system. This is especially true of the intranasal vaccine in my opinion.

If you suspect your dog has KC, have it seen to by your vet. When making the appointment mention your concerns about KC and we will either examine in the car, or move you straight into a consult room to minimise contamination of the clinic (we have lots of puppies and elderly or compromised patients too that just don't need that challenge). The good news is it's very rare for a dog to die of KC in this day and age.