To the Editor:

We are fortunate to live in an area where we can include our dogs in our daily adventures: trips to the bank, picturesque mountain himes, and leisurely walks in town. It is the time of year, however, when germs are shared. Just like people, dogs can acquire colds, commonly referred to by veterinarians as “kennel cough” or more appropriately “canine cough”. Nationwide, these viruses are at an all time high. It has currently been hitting our local community and surrounding areas hard. There are several contagious viruses canines can acquire.

The most common is Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (CIRD) caused by the bordetella bronchiaseptica bacteria, mycoplasma, and adenovirus type 2, among others. They symptoms can include sneezing, coughing, honking, lethargy, eye and nasal discharge, possibly a log grade fever. Dogs can spread it to one another by direct contact, nose to nose, surface contact, sharing water bowls, and most commonly by airborne droplets. Much like human illness, it is spread primarily in places where dogs congregate – parks, community walking paths, boarding and grooming facilities, veterinary offices, dog shows, and play dates with neighborhood friends.

The contagious period for these types of illnesses can range from just a couple days to a couple of weeks prior to displaying symptoms. This makes it a very difficult illness to control. Dogs are exposed weeks before showing symptoms. You won’t know your dog has it until they begin coughing and by that time, they may have unknowingly shared those germs with other canine friends.

How is canine cough treated? Luckily most cases are similar to our human cold, a cough of varying degrees and feeling a little under the weather. Most healthy dogs will recover without veterinary intervention. For more severe cases, antibiotics, cough inhibitors, and sometimes steroids may be prescribed.

How can you be proactive for your pet? There is a bordetella vaccine which eliminates some, but not all strains. It is commonly recommended your dog receive this vaccine yearly, or even every six months. There is also a vaccine for adenovirus type 2. Maintain a healthy lifestyle for your pet, quality diet and appropriate exercise. Avoid dogs displaying symptoms and those that have been exposed to dogs with symptoms. Avoid areas that have a high concentration of doggy traffic: walking paths, play groups, dog shows, and any facility where dogs are present, particularly during times when exposure is high. While the risk of your dog sharing germs is always present, the holiday season is a common time for families to be traveling with their pets and this increases exposure for our local canine community with the influx of dogs coming from all over New England. Please help us try to keep our canine community healthy by keeping a close eye on your pets during this time and do not bring them to public places if they are displaying symptoms.

We hope this cold passes quickly so we can all get out with our pets for some winter fun!

Justine Brooks 

Barker Brook Kennel Staff


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