The Unusual Strain of Kennel Cough Arising in Dogs

The coronavirus came and terrorized the whole world, with scientists saying the symptoms presented themselves like the flu but became worse once the disease progressed. We were afraid to infect our four-legged friends, especially after two dogs that contracted COVID-19 were reported in Hong Kong. It seems the worst is yet from over because the unusual strain of kennel cough arising in dogs is the latest cause for alarm. The virus may not be in your area, but it is better to be equipped with information just in case, so here is everything you need to know.

Social Distancing Shifts to Dogs Now

If you have a problem keeping your distance away from fellow humans, then maybe the love of your dog will convince you to start taking such measures seriously. According to WECT News, veterinarians in Atlantic Animal Hospital have been sending tests to a reference laboratory which has concluded the bacteria going around the Wilmington area is Mycoplasma. Unfortunately, the clinic does not vaccinate animals against it, which means the primary measure they prefer is temporarily closing down veterinary facilities that will bring dogs in close contact with each other.

One doctor, Eliza Ruffner, explained that it can be difficult to tell if your furry friend has contracted the virus because there is usually no change in behavior. However, you can notice symptoms such as a dry cough that progress to pneumonia characterized by fever, lethargy, discharge from the eyes, and nose and wet cough. The doctor further explained that the virus is spread through droplets. Luckily, given the experience we have heard with the coronavirus, which is also spread by droplets, we should exercise the same measures of socially distancing our pets from other dogs since you cannot be so sure which dog is already infected.

What exactly is Kennel Cough?

You must have been puzzled by how Atlantic Animal Hospital says that bacteria cause the unusual strain, yet doctor Eliza is talking about the virus spread. So, suppose you are wondering how both a virus and bacteria can cause the cough. In that case, Countryside Dog Camp( says that the upper respiratory infection is categorized under both a viral and bacterial infection. The scientific name of kennel cough is Bordetella, and it causes inflammation of the trachea and bronchi resulting in your dog coughing.

The speed at which the veterinarians have decided to shut down the veterinary facilities is because the infection is highly contagious in unvaccinated dogs. The fact that this strain is unusual, of course, makes it even more dangerous, but the transmission is still the same as that of the kennel cough. Besides an infected dog infecting others through droplets coughed into the air, saliva from sharing bowls is another method of spreading it. What makes it a challenge to mitigate the infection’s spread is the lack of awareness that your dog is sick since symptoms take time to show. Since we can’t have our dogs wear masks, social distancing is the only way.

Preventing Your Dog from Contracting Kennel Cough

CBC explained that since the virus is airborne, containing it is hard. However, vaccinations can help your dog. It is not a guarantee that your dog will be safe from the virus, but at least even when infected, your pup will not suffer the same fate as one that did not get the vaccine. Most states require that dogs be vaccinated against Bordetella every 12 months, and others require administration of the vaccine every six months. Since the risk is usually high during the boarding season, the vaccine must be administered two weeks before boarding for a dog’s first Bordetella vaccination.

For a dog that has been previously immunized, then it must be vaccinated at least 24 hours before checking in to the boarding facility. The vaccine comes in three forms: oral, intranasal, and injectable, and the intranasal was found to be much superior, as published in Whole Dog Journal. The article further clarifies that the vaccines only protect your dog from contracting some Bordetella virus strains, but it reduces the severity of the symptoms in all infections.

According to the American Kennel Club, you can take precautions to guard your pup’s health against this highly contagious virus. Disinfect all items that your dog uses, including his toys, beddings, and bowls, after letting your dog outside with other dogs and ensure they are not in close contact with each other. Your dog should not drink from the same bowl as other dogs, and neither should you pet one dog then touch your dog without washing your hands. All these measures are similar to what we have become used to with flattening the coronavirus pandemic curve, so it should not be hectic for you. You should also know that if your dog is infected, he will be quarantined.

Can You Contract Kennel Cough from Your Dog?

Worms and Germs Blog says that there is weak and circumstantial evidence regarding the transmission of the Bordetella virus from pets to humans. However, it still goes ahead to highlight ways to reduce transmission, which means even that the low risk should not be left to chance. Therefore, if you have someone in your house with low immunity, maybe due to underlying conditions such as HIV, one of the first things you should avoid is leaving your dog in a boarding facility.

Other measures include keeping your exposed body parts away from being licked by the dog and if you touch the dog often, then wash your hands regularly. This is especially important if you come into contact with the dog’s saliva by touching his mouth and nose. Since we are being encouraged to adopt dogs from shelters and reduce overcrowding, avoid getting yours from the shelter now that you cannot tell which dog is already infected.

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