AMHERST – The Amherst Veterinary Hospital is cautioning dog owners about the recent outbreak of the kennel cough. The infectious disease is usually caused by a viral infection, and sometimes a bacterial infection, and can lead to more serious health problems for your dog.
“A lot of people have this understanding that it’s like a cold and that it’s just going to go away but it’s very contagious and, among young animals especially, it can be life threatening,” said veterinarian Carolyn Hollis.
The cough, Hollis explained, sounds similar to the whooping cough in humans. The cough can develop into a fungal or bacterial infection. The cough can also lead to pneumonia.
“I’ve seen some animals near death from it,” she said.
Dogs with the cough can sometimes become lethargy, lose their appetite and run a fever. If the cough leads into bacterial pneumonia, the dog will be coughing up fluid and be very weak.
Although the disease is named ‘kennel cough’, dogs are not only succeptible to the infection if they have been recently held in a kennel. Any dog who attends doggie day care or even visits a dog park can easily catch the cough.
“It’s sort of like kids getting a cold when they go back to school in the fall or at Christmas time,” said Hollis. “It’s dogs that are around other dogs in small areas on confined spaces. So if they’re going to the groomers, obedience classes, anywhere where they are mixing with other dogs.”
The Amherst Veterinary Hospital has had 15 cases in the last two weeks.
“I had at least five last Saturday,” Hollis added. “We’re seeing about one or two every day.”
Vaccines can prevent your dog from catching the cough but there is also a chance of your dog catching a different strain of the virus.
Any owners who are worried about their pets should contact their local veterinarian.