In this past week we have seen several dogs with canine cough and received a flurry of phone calls from concerned owners whose dogs had typical symptoms.

For many, the initial description is “I think there might be something stuck in my dog’s throat”.

Dogs don’t have to have been in boarding kennels to catch canine cough. Of course, like children at boarding school sharing germs, having many dogs in one place increases the chance of spreading respiratory disease. This is why boarding kennels, doggy daycares, & groomers all insist on your dog being fully up to date with vaccinations well before admission.

Canine cough is not just one disease. It is the name for a cluster of respiratory diseases caused by various germs. One is the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica, a close cousin of the human whooping cough germ B. pertussis. The others are viruses.

Dogs typically catch canine cough by sniffing or licking where an infected dog has coughed or sneezed germ-contaminated droplets onto their surroundings. Dogs showing signs of canine cough – coughing, sneezing, runny eyes or nose, and possibly poor appetite and fever, should be kept isolated on your property until symptoms are gone.

Dogs with mild symptoms that are still eating and drinking normally can usually be managed well at home with no veterinary treatment required.

Dogs that are off their food or that have severe bouts of coughing may need to be seen. We typically examine and treat these patients in the car park so leave them in the car and call reception when you arrive for your appointment. Please do not bring your dog into the clinic, we will come to you.

Vaccination significantly reduces the severity and duration of canine cough caused by Bordetella and parainfluenza virus. Protection is not long-lasting and wanes significantly after 6 months. Boosters are normally given yearly but in higher risk situations like canine cough outbreaks or going to boarding kennels, doggy daycare, groomers then a shorter interval is recommended.

Vaccinating ill animals is not recommended. However, if your dog is healthy but has just been in contact with a dog showing signs of canine cough then the rapidly acting intranasal vaccine can be given.

Please don’t hesitate to call if you have concerns about your pets.

We’re here to help.

Best wishes

The Halifax team