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Protect Your Dog Against Canine Cough

Whether it’s a play date in the park or a stay at a boarding kennel, dogs today spend more time than ever in the company of other canines. While this trend towards socialization is wonderful, pet owners should also take the extra step to protect their dogs against a contagious disease know as canine cough or bordetella.

Anywhere there are dogs
Bordetella, which affects the respiratory system, is the canine equivalent of the flu. Dogs can pick up the disease any where there are other dogs, explains Larry Nieman, DVM, veterinary expert for Best Friends Pet Resorts.

Just as the likelihood for humans to contract a cold or the flu increases when they are exposed to lots of people, dogs are more likely to catch canine cough following exposure to a congregation of other dogs, such as at a show, groomer, veterinarian’s clinic, boarding facility, shelter or park. In fact, they can get it from exposure to just a single infected animal. "Pet owners enjoy the companionship of their pets, and love showing them off. People now regularly take their dogs to play dates, shopping and on outings. So dogs are more often in situations where they are with groups of dogs, increasing the likelihood of exposure to another dog infected with canine cough," says Dr. Nieman.

Symptoms of bordetella are a dry, hacking cough and sometimes nasal discharge. It can be caused by either viral or bacterial agents. While the illness is usually self-limiting, the cough can last from 10 days to three weeks. Your vet may prescribe cough suppressants to make your dog more comfortable, or and antibiotic to prevent a secondary infection.

Vaccine is valuable protection
Dr. Nieman recommends the canine cough vaccine as valuable, inexpensive insurance against this unpleasant disease. For years, quality boarding facilities have required the bordetella vaccine and many top-notch grooming salons also recommend an annual vaccination for their clients.

"We have not seen an increase in canine cough, yet it is not going away either. That is why we are actively trying to educate people about the importance of being proactive and protecting their best friends." Dr. Nieman urges dog owners to consult their veterinarians about protecting their pet.