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Keep Kennel Cough at bay

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Vets are asking dog owners to act now to prevent the spread of Kennel Cough.

Kennel Cough is one of the most virulent and unpleasant diseases our dogs can catch – estimates suggest that last year a staggering 65,000 dogs were diagnosed with Kennel Cough in the UK.

Also known as infectious bronchitis, Kennel Cough causes a booming “honking” cough that is as distressing for you as your dog. It’s a sound that you won’t forget and what’s worse, it can last several weeks.

So how serious is Kennel Cough?

While unpleasant, most dogs will throw off Kennel Cough and return to fitness, but in very young or older dogs with weak immune systems, it can turn to pneumonia and can kill.

TV Vet Matt Brash’s advice is to talk to your vet about ways to prevent your dog picking up the disease. He warns: “Apart from the clinical illness, Kennel Cough can also result in long term persistent infection and has the capacity to spread very quickly.”

How can my dog catch Kennel Cough?

Passed by droplet infection and close contact between pets – as its name suggests, boarding kennels can harbour the disease. But in fact Kennel Cough is widespread in the atmosphere and can be picked up anywhere from classes to shows, even a walk in the park or a neighbour’s pet.

How do I stop my dog getting Kennel Cough?

To stop your dog picking up the disease, an annual vaccination is available given simply and painlessly via drops placed into one nostril. Unknown to their owners, some dogs can carry the disease without showing any symptoms – the vaccination will stop these silent “carriers” infecting other pets. Before you go on holiday and book your dog into kennels check the kennel’s policy on vaccination – reduce your pet’s exposure to the disease by only going to kennels who insist on up to date vaccination certificates for pets in their care.

TV vet Matt Brash says: “Sadly Kennel Cough is already widespread but it flourishes even more in warm, wet conditions. Our mild winter could mean that it will be a greater threat this year, particularly to vulnerable pets. All dog owners and everyone running kennels and working in the veterinary profession should get behind this campaign and prevent this unpleasant and contagious disease taking hold this year.”

Kennel Cough is widespread

How do I know if my dog has caught Kennel Cough?

Once your dog has been exposed to infection, it will take 5-7 days before you see any signs of disease. Kennel Cough usually causes a dry, gagging cough, runny nose and sometimes sneezing.

Depending on its severity, the signs of infection can last from a few days to several weeks. However, even after the coughing has stopped your dog can remain infectious for up to three months.

If my dog catches Kennel Cough how is it treated?

By the time your dog has started coughing, sadly Kennel Cough may have already damaged your dog’s respiratory system.

Therapies such as anti-inflammatory drugs and cough suppressants are only temporarily effective and should only be used on your vet’s advice.

Kennel Cough is caused by both bacteria and viruses, so antibiotics can sometimes help reduce disease severity.

Kennel Cough in the news

Kennel Cough is so widespread that large outbreaks often hit the news. Outbreaks last year included:

  • Lerwick (Shetlands) 15-20 dogs treated at Westside Vets
  • Plymouth, Devon, major outbreak reported by Elm Vets and Plymouth Vet Group
  • Preston, Lincs major outbreak reported by Oakhill & Abby Veterinary Centre
  • Somerset, cases seen at North Road Vets, Midsomer Norton and Bath Vet Group, Bath

1 Estimate based on 2009 CICADA UK Survey of pet diseases. Based on disease reported for the 9 months to Nov 2010.

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Published: 11:06, 10 February 2014 | Updated: 04:24, 14 February 2014