Canine infection called ‘kennel cough’ is on the rise in Routt County

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STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – Amanda Williams became concerned when her Labrador started coughing aggressively and she believed he was choking.

After days of uninterrupted coughing, she took her dog to the Pet Kare Clinic, where he was diagnosed with an infectious canine respiratory disease, also known as kennel cough.

Williams’ dog was one of many cases Routt County vets have seen in recent weeks, which Pet Kare Clinic co-owner Christopher Schwarz described as a “flare”.

“This time of year it’s cool so things will survive longer in the environment, but it’s still warm enough for the dogs to be in the dog park,” Schwarz said, adding that with the pandemic restrictions eased, people started to travel again, leaving. their dogs in kennels, where infection is often transmitted.

The disease is spread by dogs who breathe in tight, confined spaces and by dogs playing “nose to nose” in dog parks or through fences.

“Dogs in dog parks are not like humans,” Schwarz said. “There is a much more aggressive game, and it is much easier for them to spread the virus than it is for humans.”

Lee Meyring, a veterinarian at Steamboat Veterinary Hospital, said the infection pattern is cyclical and getting dogs vaccinated is the best way to prevent the spread of kennel cough.

Elaine Hicks, executive director of the Routt County Humane Society, said all dogs are vaccinated when they enter the facility.

“It is strongly recommended that puppies get vaccinated. It’s kind of like a flu shot for people, ”she says.

Similar to the flu vaccine, Meyring said, the vaccine is not foolproof because there are several strains of the disease, and vaccines usually only contain one viral or bacterial component.

“It’s hard to make a vaccine that will cover everything,” he says.

Hicks said if dog owners see their dog coughing more frequently or more aggressively than usual, or if they notice a yellow discharge coming from their dog’s nose, they should immediately take the dog to a veterinarian for rule out the possibility of a more serious infection.

If the dog is diagnosed with kennel cough, Schwarz said owners are advised to quarantine their dog away from other dogs for three weeks or until the cough subsides.

“A lot of dogs may not have been vaccinated,” he says. “It’s like any virus. If someone has a cold and gets close, it is spread that way.

The infection can go away on its own, although vets often treat it with a cough suppressant and an antibiotic to keep the infection from getting worse.

Although the infection is considered mild, Williams said her dog’s cough was “incredibly gnarly” and “not a sound you want to hear.”

Williams also encouraged other dog owners to vaccinate their pets, so they could avoid the high cost of treating a sick dog, which she said cost her $ 150 between vet visits. antibiotics and cough suppressants.

Similar to the common cold and flu in humans, most dogs will be sick for a week or two and then recover without problems in the long term, although very old and very young dogs can suffer from more serious side effects.

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