ST. JOSEPH, MO. — The warm, summer weather gives way to vacation season and introduces the dreaded Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (CIRD), or kennel cough, a highly-contagious respiratory disease for dogs. Kennel cough impacts more than just dogs in kennels – any dog in close contact with other dogs is susceptible to this disease.
“Veterinarians see frequent outbreaks of kennel cough in dogs during summer vacation season, as many dogs enter daycare, kennels or travel with their families for vacation and are in contact with other dogs,” said Richard Meadows, DVM, DABVP, curator’s teaching professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Missouri-Columbia.
“Dogs that are in close contact with other dogs are at increased risk for contracting kennel cough. If dogs aren’t vaccinated against this disease, they run the risk of infection. As we prepare for summer trips, now is the time to ensure your dog is vaccinated,” said Meadows.
Kennel cough is transferred through the air, which facilitates a quick spread between canine friends. The likelihood of catching the virus increases when dogs are in close proximity to other dogs, such as a dog park or a boarding facility.
Kennel cough is not exclusive to kennels and boarding facilities. Whether you visit the neighborhood dog park or take your dog along on the summer road trip, your dog still runs the risk of encountering kennel cough and other infected dogs. The dry, hacking cough associated with kennel cough releases germs into the air, making the disease easily transmitted to other dogs that are in close approximation. Dogs can potentially pick up kennel cough anywhere.
“Due to its contagious nature, any dog that comes into contact with other dogs should be vaccinated for kennel cough. Accordingly, many kennel and boarding facilities require dogs to be up-to-date on the kennel cough vaccination,” Meadows said.
“There are several different products with different administration methods. As a pet owner, it’s important to know and understand your options for preventing kennel cough. Contact your veterinarian about your options,” he said.
Along with diminished appetite, decreased energy levels and a low fever, there are additional signs of kennel cough that infected dogs may show.
“Pet owners should keep an eye out for a harsh, dry, hacking cough, dripping eyes and runny noses,” Meadows stated. “But, watching for clinical symptoms isn’t enough. Pet owners should talk to their veterinarian about options for the kennel cough vaccination to get ahead of the disease before it becomes a problem for their pet.”