No, your dog does not have to mask himself in public. But there are important steps you can take to protect him or her from the contagious respiratory diseases that veterinarians say have increased this summer.
With people back out this summer, some veterinary practices and kennels in South Bend have reported increasing cases of such diseases in dogs, commonly known as kennel cough.
“We have definitely seen an increase in veterinary clinics across the state with dogs arriving with dry coughs,” said Indiana State Board of Animal Health director Melissa Justice.
This cough is part of the infectious respiratory disease complex in dogs, Justice said, “and it causes what we normally classify as a kennel cough.”
“Kennel cough” can be caused by a number of different infectious agents. Bacterial or viral, the disease is airborne and spreads easily in rooms where dogs congregate, such as dog houses. B. in kennels, where it originally got its name.
However, kennel cough can be spread anywhere and there are preventive measures against it.
The most common and well-known variation that causes these respiratory problems is the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacterium, and the best-known prevention against it is the Bordetella vaccine, Justice said.
Because a variety of infectious agents can cause kennel cough and are usually not tested in clinical settings, let alone reported to the state health program, Justice said she could not quantify the increase in the disease in the area.
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“But I’ve heard from several vets across the state that they see many more cases of dogs coughing, which they classify as the infectious respiratory disease complex for kennel cough per se,” Justice said.
Kennel cough is easily treatable, nothing to worry about
Treating the symptoms of these infectious respiratory diseases is often cheaper than doing laboratory tests to make official diagnoses. Dogs can be successfully treated with antibiotics and other medications in addition to making a good recovery on their own.
Sometimes veterinarians prefer not to let the animals into their facilities unless the problem continues because kennel cough is so contagious.
Justice stressed that the increasing trend was not a cause for concern, especially because kennel cough was easy to treat.
“The clinics I’ve seen doing the diagnosis are getting inconsistent results,” Justice said. “So you’re not just finding one common infectious agent that causes these symptoms in all dogs down the line. I want to assure the public that no superbug or anything like that will appear. “
Justice suspected that dogs like their owners were in quarantine last year. Now, in the summer months, they have been introduced to other dogs again and mingle in dog parks, kennels, and in public.
“I’d rather equate it with kids going back to school,” she said.
She added that hot weather can irritate dogs’ windpipes, making infectious agents more likely to attack. Although kennel cough may be more common in the summer for these reasons, the number of cases she has heard of is much higher this year.
Mainly bark, potential bite
The diseases can be transmitted in a number of ways, either through direct dog-to-dog contact or through the air. Kennel cough is easier to come by indoors.
In addition, infectious diseases in dogs can live on surfaces such as toys and water bowls.
The typical symptoms of a dog’s infectious disease are dry cough, and typical treatment is to calm him down with an antibiotic or cough suppressant.
Vet Samantha Dawson of the University Park Veterinary Hospital in Granger said that while the practice has seen a few cases lately, it has had more cases after July 4, despite being unable to quantify the trend.
Dawson suspected owners are going on vacation this summer, leaving their dogs at boarding schools with other dogs, opening the door for the spread of disease.
Tami Kobb, manager of Linda’s Camp K9, a pet boarding house in Mishawaka, said kennels have a bad rap when it comes to kennel cough.
“I think people really associate it with a kennel, but I wish people knew you can take it out on a walk,” she said.
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Through her connections in the regional veterinary community, Kobb said, kennel cough is currently “widespread in the Michiana area.” Linda’s Camp K9 requires its dogs to be up to date on their Bordetella vaccines.
Kobb also attributed the rise in kennel cough to increased contact between dog owners this summer after many pandemic restrictions came to an end.
To keep their dogs safe, owners should monitor their pets’ health, get the Bordetella vaccine, and consistently change their dog’s water bowls and sanitize toys and other surfaces they touch, Kobb said.
She added that if a dog has symptoms it should not be taken out of the house, including for walks.
Lindsey Cuellar of the South Bend Animal Resource Center said the organization saw a number of cases of kennel cough in strays and other animals that may have been brought into the shelter in June.
Alexys Mclay, a registered veterinary technician with Animal Care Clinic North in Elkhart, said that last month in particular, “We have seen an increase in upper respiratory infections in dogs.”
Mclay said because kennel cough is an umbrella term and they generally treat clinical symptoms rather than diagnostic tests, the numbers they saw are unknown. As a precaution, coughing dogs are brought into the veterinary clinic through a back door.
She encouraged pet owners to ensure that kennels and other facilities where they house their dog are in need of the Bordetella vaccine.
Finally, Mclay encouraged owners to pay extra attention to the health of their elderly and / or immunocompromised dogs. Bronchitis, pneumonia and other secondary infections are rare, but possible especially in dogs with an increased risk of the disease.
“In most cases (it is) not a serious illness,” said the Indiana State Board of Animal Health’s Justice. “They just have this dry cough that is very annoying to them and their owners.”