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Understanding Kennel Cough: What You Should Know If Your Dog Attends Dog Day Care in Arlington, WA

Kennel cough is the catch-all term used for several different infectious respiratory diseases that plague canines. The ASPCA compares it to bronchitis in humans, as it causes inflammation of the windpipe and voice box and is characterized by a constant dry cough. Just like colds run rampant in schools and childcare centers, kennel cough can be a problem in boarding or kennel environments, grooming and veterinarian facilities and off leash parks. It's understandable to be concerned about kennel cough if your fur baby is frequently boarded or attends dog day care in Arlington, WA, but most quality day cares take precautions to ensure clients' health.

It is important to remember that any dog that comes in contact with the virus EVEN IF VACCINATED can be susceptible to contracting it. Also important to know is that it is not a failure in some way of the establishment in which your dog may have been exposed. Often owners are angry and upset when their dog becomes ill and feels that somehow it is the fault of the establishment when in fact they often were exposed by another dog who was not even exhibiting symptoms yet or could be a carrier who never gets sick himself but exposes others. Even in the most hygienic, well ventilated, spacious kennels and dog daycares the possibility of a dog acquiring kennel cough exists. Please remember that in almost ALL cases kennel cough is nothing more then a canine cold that acts exactly as a human cold and will run it's course the same way. There is no need to panic or be frightened or angry.

What It Is and How It's Spread

Viruses and bacteria join forces to bring on a condition known as Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex, which results in kennel cough. Dr. Jonathan Smith, VMD, says that the parainfluenza virus, canine influenza virus, adenovirus, canine respiratory corona virus, and distemper virus are commonly responsible for many cases of kennel cough.

Kennel cough can be spread in a number of ways including

  • direct contact between dogs, such as when greeting, grooming, or playing

  • airborne aerosols, like from a sneeze or cough

  • contaminated surfaces, such as a blanket or floor that has been coughed or sneezed on

  • shared water or food dishes

Also, kennel cough is easily spread in areas that are closed off and with poor circulation, conditions which may be present in some inferior dog day care facilities. A quality dog day care in Arlington, WA, however, will be well ventilated in addition to requiring proof of all clients' vaccinations including Bordetella and parainfluenza, the two most common causes of kennel cough. Infected dogs can spread the organisms for days to weeks even after seeming to have fully recovered so it’s virtually impossible to eradicate no matter how diligent the owner, kennel/daycare operator, groomer, veterinary office is.

What to Look For

Sometimes the only sign of the disease is the persistent honking cough. That's why it's recommended that you consult your veterinarian if your dog has a chronic cough even if she otherwise appears healthy. Other kennel cough signs to be aware of are

  • gagging

  • nasal discharge

  • coughing up phlegm

  • fever

  • loss of appetite

  • lethargy

The last three symptoms are signs that the illness has progressed to a serious stage and could possibly turn into pneumonia.

Treating and Preventing Kennel Cough

Young, older, and unvaccinated dogs are most at risk for kennel cough, as well as any other dog who has a weakened or compromised immune system. Even if your pooch doesn't attend day care for dogs in Arlington, WA, it's still vital to have her vaccinated because there are always other opportunities for exposure to kennel cough. Talk to your vet about which shots are recommended, and how often they're required, as they are one of the best ways of preventing kennel cough.

Vaccines for contagious respiratory diseases like kennel cough are never considered completely effective in preventing infection.

This is because the pathogens responsible are constantly mutating and changing. Much like the human flu vaccine, the kennel cough vaccine protects the patient only from the currently recognized strains and can't account for any new types that have recently appeared. So if your dog was exposed to a strain that was not a part of the vaccine he received, he may very well have the infection.

Vaccinations won't help a dog who has already contracted the illness, though, so because kennel cough is extremely contagious, sick dogs are usually isolated from other dogs, even ones they may live with. The typical period that a dog is contagious is between 7 and 10 days but, to be safe, most vets recommend isolation for 14 days. A minor case of kennel cough can clear up on its own, but many times antibiotics are prescribed to prevent infection and sometimes bring about early recovery, according to PetMD. Also, use of a vaporizer or humidifier at home can soothe irritated bronchial passages.

Life-threatening cases of kennel cough are extremely rare and a vast majority of dogs that acquire the infection will recover on their own with no medication. The majority of dogs with the disease continue to eat, sleep, play and act normally -- except for that annoying, dry, non-productive coughing that seems so persistent.

If you would like to help ease symptoms naturally you might consider:

Vitamin C will help strengthen your dog's immune system, enabling him to combat canine kennel cough faster and more effectively. You can safely give 500 mg for a medium sized dog. Whenever you feed your pet Vitamin C, make sure he drinks plenty of water to help the nutrients move through his system.

Honey can be used to help soothe your pet's throat. kennel cough in dogs causes intense throat irritation. The constant coughing and hacking makes the throat feel dry, cracked, swollen and extremely sore. Honey is packed with rich nutrients that will help your pet combat the disease and soothe his aching throat. A half to 1 teaspoon of honey several times a day should do the trick.

At Pampered Pet Resort, we understand the concern you have about your best friend's health and we go out of our way to ensure all of our guests remain happy and well. We require proof of vaccinations for all canine visitors and maintain a clean, well-ventilated facility. We're the day care for dogs in Arlington, WA, that loves to pamper your pooch. Give us a call at 360-653-6145 to schedule a tour or book a day of play.

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