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What the Hack is Kennel Cough?

Canine Cough. A dog parent’s nightmare. We tried to change the name from “kennel cough” to “Canine Cough” so kennels don’t feel singled out and blamed. It gets the name by frequent association as the virus is very easily contagious in tightly confined areas like doggy daycares and kennels. But that’s not the only way your pup can catch it.

So, what is it? The clinical term is canine infectious tracheobronchitis. In its simplest form, Canine Cough is a common cold in dogs. It can be contracted in many ways, even by meeting another dog on a walk or being within the same vicinity as an infected dog. Heck, there’s even evidence that infected surfaces and humans can temporarily transmit the cough. It can incubate for up to 14 days in your dog’s system without your dog showing any symptoms.

If symptoms are rear their ugly head, they include wheezing, coughing, hacking, “honking”, sneezing, runny eyes/nose, and a general lack of energy. If your dog shows any of these signs, here’s the plan:

  1. Stay calm and remember that it’s a common illness and temporary. In some cases, it can go away on its own.

  2. Do not socialize them with other dogs or bring them to any areas where it can spread for at least 2 weeks (daycares/boarding facilities, groomers, trainers, dog parks, pet stores, no greets on walks – no nose-to-nose contact).

  3. Watch the symptoms for worsening progression and contact your vet for the correct course of action.

  4. Notify us at The Indoor Dog Park so we can keep track of illnesses.

Since several viruses and bacteria can cause Canine Cough, the Bordetella vaccination is not 100% effective in all cases. Much like our flu vaccine, not all strains are covered. However, having the vaccine may help with symptoms or a chance of fighting the infection more quickly if your dog does contract it. In a lot of mild cases, it may not be necessary to see your vet, although if symptoms are severe or if your dog has trouble breathing, we highly recommend it. Your vet may prescribe an antibiotic, cough suppressant, or just plain rest and relaxation. Dogs who have contracted the Cough before have a better chance of not being affected, and as always, very young dogs and elderly dogs are more at risk for harsh symptoms.

At The Indoor Dog Park, we are strict and diligent in our policies – especially those centered around health, safety, and hygiene. From our required vaccinations to the proprietary grass cleaning system and all the toy and surface sanitization that happens in between, unfortunately, even doing all the right things doesn’t stop the spread right in its tracks. In our facility, we use a variety of all natural, pet-safe enzymatic cleaners as well as other chemical cleaners often found in veterinarian clinics. We do everything we can to keep our pups safe.

Chances are, if you chose to socialize your dog around other dogs, they are going to get some sort of communicable illness. Probably the cough, but things like puppy warts and giardia are also things that are seen in animals that have close contact with one another. Just like when people take their kids to school, they will probably get a cold, head lice, a stomach bug, or one of the many other germs that go around. And the younger the dog, the more likely that is, as they are still building their immune system. As the world learned over the last few years, viruses are persistent, and this applies in the dog world too. You can tell your kid to wear a mask and stand 6 feet away, but you cannot tell your puppy not to lick his new friend’s mouth. Puppies love to put things in their mouths and put their mouths on things – especially their friends. It’s how they play! As one of our trusted trainer friends has been quoted, “In the end, the consequences of not socializing with other animals far outweighs the risk of getting something like Canine Cough.”

It breaks our heart when people tell us their dog is sick, or when we hear a new puppy friend is dealing with an upper respiratory infection. Even our own dogs have had it. It’s nothing to be terrified or ashamed of, but it’s important to take proper precautions so you can stop worsening symptoms and prevent the spread to other dogs.

We are incredibly transparent about any signs of illness we see in our facilities. Internally, we track reports of any illnesses, and we always keep you in the know if there’s any risks or issues to share. It’s a fact that we will see communicable disease go around our dog population from time to time. The very best we can do is educate, inform, stay strict on our cleaning and vaccine protocols. Safety of all our dogs is our top priority.


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