Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker
Kennel Cough is an airborne disease that is very contagious among dogs. This year, Kennel Cough has been very active in the bay area and extremely difficult to control. Kennel Cough, also know as, Bordetella bronchiseptica is most often spread in facilities where dogs are enclosed. Places such as boarding kennels, groomers, dog shelters, veterinarian offices, and dog parks are all places where your dog may be at risk of infection, due to their close proximity to other dogs that may be already infected with the virus.
So what is Kennel Cough exactly? Dogs will develop a harsh, hacking cough and most often become very sick and mimic symptoms similar to our own flu symptoms. The incubation period is about 5 days, so that means your dog will not show any signs until 5 days after exposure. If you dog has contacted Kennel Cough, it is imperative that you keep them away from other dogs to keep from spreading the disease!
One of the main problems of Kennel Cough is that the virus is being shed 2 days prior to any coughing symptoms, so your dog may be infecting others and you may not be aware of it! Also, it is important to note that Kennel Cough can take 2 weeks for recovery, so you dog should not be going outside for a very long period of time, which can cause sadness and depression. Kennel Cough is often thought to be non-contagious after your dog has started the antibiotics. Wrong! You dog can be contagious for a two to three week period following the onset and you should not let your pet around other dogs especially if they still have any cough. It is worth noting that sometimes the cough seems as if it has gone away, but in fact, it is just hiding and not noticed until the dog begins actively running.
Veterinarians offer a vaccination called a Bordetella shot, which stays active for 6 months and then must be repeated. But even though your dog gets a Bordetella shot twice a year, it is no guarantee that you dog will not come down with the virus. 100% guarantee is impossible because the strains of the virus mutate from year to year and the vaccine developers need to guess what strains will be prevalent.
Bordetella shots are usually combined with the annual DHLPP vaccination, but you must ask for it, it is not automatically given to your dog.
The hacking cough can last seven to 14 days and may be much more severe in very young or very old dogs. These dogs can develop a secondary bacterial lung infection, or even pneumonia, which will cause them to become lethargic and have a decreased appetite. It is very important to keep your dog well rested and isolated from other dogs.
The silver lining in this cloud is that if your dog has been vaccinated, your dog will probably exhibit the illness for a much shorter duration and less severe symptoms than those that have not been vaccinated.