About Canine Cough
Canine Cough is a contagious airborne disease that is passed from dog to dog, much like the common cold in humans. Canine cough spreads easily and quickly between dogs through social contact and interaction, the air, shared water bowls and common toys and other shared objects. While puppies, young adult dogs, and dogs with suppressed immune systems are more vulnerable, any dog can contract canine cough if it comes in contact with another dog that has been exposed…although not all dogs will. Some dogs may show signs of the illness, some may carry it silently yet otherwise seem unaffected, and others may never be affected due to their body’s successful immune system response. Just like the common cold, some adults and children seem to get colds frequently while others seem to avoid most common colds altogether despite repeated exposure.
Most cases of canine cough are not serious, and will run their course on their own within two to three weeks. However, in some cases, dogs can develop life-threatening complications. Therefore, it is wise to take precautions to reduce the risk for your pet and seek the advice of your veterinarian.
Vaccinating Against Canine Cough
You can reduce the risk of canine cough by vaccinating your dog with the Bordatella vaccination.
There are two options for canine cough vaccination: injectable and intranasal. Your veterinarian will likely recommend one or the other based on experience or preference. We recommend discussing both options with your veterinarian to determine which is best for your dog. While the vaccination can increase immunization relatively quickly, we recommend getting the vaccination 2 weeks prior to your dogs stay at The Grand Paw to maximize immunity.
Most veterinarians recommend administering the Bordatella vaccination twice a year (every 6 months) if your dog will be exposed to other dogs. Since puppies are more susceptible, they are often given a second booster vaccination approximately 30 days after the first vaccination. If your veterinarian recommends less frequently, it’s important to let them know that at The Grand Paw, your dog will be in a free-play, social environment and exposed to a variety of dogs from different geographies.
When it comes to the Bordatella vaccination, however, it’s very important to understand that canine cough is a multifaceted bacterial and viral disease. While the vaccination protects against some of the strains of canine cough, it does not protect against them all. Like the flu shot in humans, it reduces the risk of illnesses from more common strains but does not protect against all possible variations. Furthermore, the Bordatella vaccination has been known to cause canine cough-like symptoms in some dogs…again, just like the flu shot in humans causes flu-like symptoms for some people.
Symptoms and Treatment
Canine cough is typically characterized by a harsh, hacking cough which most people describe as sounding as if something is stuck in the dog’s throat. It’s analogous to a chest cold for humans and is only a serious condition in special circumstances. In most cases, canine cough resolves on its own and is self-limiting. While there is no specific diagnostic test, if you suspect canine cough, your veterinarian will likely prescribe an antibiotic and/or cough suppressant to support your dog’s healthy recovery. (In rare cases, canine cough can lead to more serious secondary infections, such as pneumonia, especially in puppies, older dogs or dogs with weakened immune systems, so it is important to seek the advice of your veterinarian.) Canine cough typically runs its course in 2 to 3 weeks. If you dog does contract canine cough, the exposure and immune system response may reduce the likelihood of your dog contracting it again in the future.
Being Informed & Understanding the Risks
Since the Bordatella vaccination cannot protect against all strains of canine cough, it’s important to remember that your dog is never fully protected. There is always some risk in contracting the illnesses if your dog is exposed to other dogs throughout its life, whether it be in a training class, veterinary office, boarding facility, grooming salon, community park, or just walking in the neighborhood
At The Grand Paw, we remain vigilant in ensuring dogs are properly vaccinated, watching for and isolating any dogs which may be showing signs of canine cough, keeping our air filtration systems properly maintained, and disinfecting our facilities on a daily basis. Despite all of these precautions, however, the airborne nature of canine cough makes it impossible for The Grand Paw to prevent transmission of the disease in our free-play environment where dogs are frequently touching noses, sharing water dishes, playing with common toys and sitting together on the laps of our caring staff.
If you choose to bring your dog to The Grand Paw, it’s important to understand that canine cough is always a risk. Just as you can’t completely protect your children or yourself from getting the common cold, there’s always a chance that your dog will get one too when it has the opportunity to play and have fun with a group of canine pals. As social animals, we must all accept the risks along with the rewards.
You can help reduce the risks of canine cough by ensuring your dog is properly vaccinated (Bordatella vaccination every 6 months), keeping your dog at home if you notice a cough, and consulting with your veterinarian on this and other canine communicable illnesses.