Vets warn dog owners about dangerous virus

Jocelyn Turner
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Lily getting her check up

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.

Organizations: Amherst Veterinary Hospital

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Recent comments

  • Janet Dale
    December 23, 2012 - 07:36

    You realize the way this article is written going to start a panic in some dog owners. It's inflammatory and certainly not helpful. We had our dog vaccinated for Bordetella aka "Kennel Cough" and she is fine after developing a cough/reverse sneeze recently. Most reputable daycares/kennels/groomers will require proof of vaccination, which is a seperate vaccine, NOT included in the regular annual boosters. Check with you vets people. Young dogs with immature immune systems and elderly dogs are at risk from ALL different types of exposure if they are not properly vaccinated anually. Good grief, you make it sound like if they touch noses they'll give each other the plague! The best "medicine" for pups is proper socialization with other dogs,routine vet care and good nutrition. Dogs will pick up 'bugs' from eachother just like children do at school... and we certainly don't want parents to start putting their children in a bubble, do we? Here's something to 'chew' on: Our pup came down with Lungworm a couple of months ago. There is no preventable available in Canada, and we had no idea she was sick until we thought she was bloating (btw, bloat is almost always fatal if not caught early). After an emerg trip to afterhours clinic, exam & xrays the parasite was discovered in her lungs. Cause: the larvae live in our lawns on snails and slugs. She was treated successfully, we let all of her doggy friends know, though it's not usually spread dog to dog, and we kept her out of daycare for a week. She made a full recovery, we certainly don't keep her in a bubble now and she still loves to play in her yard! Dogs need to be with other dogs, 'cause a dog with behavior issues who is poorly socialized is a RISK to everyone and everything. We hope the dogs who have become ill make a speedy recovery and are back playing soon. Remember just like with humans, our dogs and cats deserve proper healthcare... An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.