--Kennel cough concerns, local dog owners worry about seasonal bug
Some local dog owners have expressed concerns about their pets after seeing more cases of canines becoming sick from a seasonal bug called Kennel cough. While not considered deadly by animal health specialists, the illness is very contagious for all kinds of dogs and typically manifests itself every year in the spring and the fall, according to Dr Greg Varney of the Aylmer Veterinary Clinic. “It can be spread from another dog picking up a stick, to using a water ball from an infected animal, Dr Varney said. “Or sometimes, it’s just close proximity coughing.”
The virus gives dogs coughing, sneezing, and choking symptoms, mostly spread via droplets of saliva in the air. Having seen a few cases pop up locally – but not considerably more than in previous years -- Dr Varney told the Aylmer Bulletin that he isn’t sure where the cases are originating from. But he suggested that it’s likely spreading in common areas like dog parks. “Anywhere in public is where it can be from,” Dr Varney said, unable to indicate a specific number of cases reported. “There’s not an abnormal amount.”
Caused by one of around a dozen different viral organisms, such as Bordetella bacteria, and mycoplasma, Dr Varney compared Kennel cough to the human version of the flu. “It’s usually not very serious,” he said. “It’s kind of similar to having a cold.”
Recently seeing three of her clients’ dogs come down with Kennel cough, local pet sitter Lori Roche told the Aylmer Bulletin that she was worried about the virus spreading quickly. But, since it’s not considered a serious threat for healthy dogs, she added that it should get resolved soon if people are cautious.
“[Veterinarians are] getting a lot of sick dogs,” Roche said, encouraging people to stay away from dog parks at all cost for the time being since it’s highly contagious. “It’s not going to be there forever. It’s going to die out, the less it spreads.”
After consulting her veterinarian for answers, Roche suggested that the current wave of Kennel cough is a new strain that is resistant to Bordetella shots. Roche also encourages people with infected dogs to consult their veterinarian for cough suppressant or other types of treatment.
Despite not being cause for serious concern, Dr Varney said that Kennel cough in some cases can lead to more serious diseases like pneumonia. “Like people, some animals can get quite sick and develop secondary infections,” Dr Varney said, noting that puppies, older dogs, and those with weaker immune systems are more vulnerable to being seriously affected. But, in most cases, infected dogs should continue to eat, drink, and play as they normally would, he said, noting that their cough should last around two to three weeks. “Very rarely, some animals will get more ill, which would require treatment from their veterinarian.” Dr Varney said. “They’ll usually resolve on their own without any treatment.”
Since infected dogs are very contagious, Dr Varney recommends that they stay home until they’re fully recovered. As for mature dogs who are healthy, he recommends they continue going to dog parks to socialize with other canines.
While admitting to seeing more cases than in previous years, an anonymous employee at the Clinique Vétérinaire Eardley said it’s not serious enough to declare an epidemic. “We have seen an increase,” the employee said. “But that’s pretty much all it is. We don’t know what the strain is or anything about that. So, we don’t know what else can be said about it.” She also encouraged people to be mindful of their dogs’ hygiene when visiting the dog park at this time of year.
Addressing the matter on their Facebook page on March 4, the Aylmer Canine Association (ACA) alerted locals that a contagion may be in effect at the Parc Jardins Lavigne dog park. Despite having heard concerns from several dog owners, who frequent both dog parks in the sector, ACA President André Lemay stated that it’s not a serious matter and should dissipate very soon. Considering the importance of dog parks for pets’ daily exercise regimes, Aylmer district councillor Audrey Bureau, who is also a former animal health technician, encourages people to consult their animal doctors on the possibility of getting their dogs vaccinated for Kennel cough or to procure the right antibiotics.