What is Kennel Cough?
Kennel Cough is a general blanket term given to most respiratory infections in dogs. It is normally recognised as Infectious Tracheo Bronchitis.
Just like a human cold, there are many different strains of the virus. Dogs can be vaccinated against Kennel Cough, but although this is not a definite way to prevent it, it will lessen the effects should a dog contract the virus. Kennel cough is as contagious as a human cold in an office or a bug going round school so it is very difficult for us to control. It is very common in Autumn and the start of Winter with the damp conditions.
Kennel Cough shows itself as a dry, hacking cough. The dog may also sneeze, and cough or sneeze out a mucus. As awful as kennel cough sounds, it is not life-threatening and most dogs will get over it in a week or so. Most dogs will continue to eat and show no signs of lethargy, but older dogs or puppies may be more off-colour. It is important to get the dog to the vet just to check for other illnesses which could be causing the cough, and they may prescribe a cough suppressing medication or anti-biotics to reduce irritation in the throat.
How can my dog catch Kennel Cough?
Kennel cough can be caught ANYWHERE that dogs can interact – the vets, training classes, passing other dogs on a walk or groomers. The virus is airborne, and can be passed on just by breathing the same air so as you can imagine, it spreads rapidly in boarding kennels.
Kennel cough can be spread before symptoms even show, and with an incubation period of 5-10 days, a full-blown outbreak can appear as though from nowhere. By the time dogs show symptoms of kennel cough, they have already been breathing the same air as the rest of the kennel meaning all the dogs are already exposed. This makes isolating the individuals showing symptoms almost pointless. With a lot of our dogs staying for just one or two nights, or a week, some dogs have caught kennel cough and not actually developed symptoms until they have returned home, meaning other dogs are exposed without us even knowing.
What can Coppice Kennels do about this?
Unfortunately, there is very little we can do to stop kennel cough. It is a risk of leaving your dog in boarding kennels, and whilst we ensure all of our dogs are fully vaccinated and we have extremely high standards of hygiene, trying to control a contagious, airborne infection with such a long incubation period before symptoms, in an area where dogs are living in close quarters proves almost impossible.
We wash all of our own bedding and bowls on hot washes with suitable soaps and disinfectants. All of our kennels are scrubbed with a DEFRA and veterinary approved high level disinfectant and virucide between guests, and the walkways and reception floors are scrubbed with the same product daily. We also spray the disinfectant as an aerosol in the kennel blocks at least 2-3 times a day to kill any virus in the air. We have sought advice from our vet who confirms that we are doing everything we can to reduce the chance of dogs going home with kennel cough.
We must make customers aware that their dogs will NOT be accepted into the kennels if their KC vaccine was administered two weeks or less before the arrival date at the kennels. This is because the vaccine is a live vaccine, and means that the dogs can transmit the virus for up to ten days.
The bottom line is, we are doing everything we possibly can to prevent kennel cough and its spread, but unfortunately, it is a risk which must be considered before boarding your dog in kennels. Kennel Cough has a stigma attached which can make a very good kennels get an unfairly bad reputation. It is not dissimilar to your child catching a cold from nursery or school yet many people believe that kennel cough is caused by bad management and dirty conditions when this is not the case.
Thank you for taking the time to read this information and we hope that you have found it useful.