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A spike of kennel cough cases seen at emergency center

Published: Jan. 25, 2021 at 8:01 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Some Anchorage veterinarians are seeing a spike in kennel cough cases in pets, specifically dogs.

Dr. Sarah Lavery, medical director at PET Emergency Treatment, says due to COVID-19, more people are socially distancing, and a dog park has become a popular place for people to get outside and take their four-legged friends. She believes dog parks and doggie daycares are where the spread is occurring.

“We do feel like COVID is playing a role in the spread of infectious tracheobronchitis, it’s just gotten really out of control,” says Lavery, “and we feel we need to announce to the public that we need to take more precautions as of late and advise people a little bit more on how to socially distance with their pets, and in a way socially distance their pets away from other pets.”

Lavery says it can take up to 14 days for an animal to show symptoms so it can take a while before kennel cough is recognized.

Kennel cough is made up of 10 different pathogens, says Lavery. Bordetella is the most common. It can sound like a honking cough and can sometimes cause the animal to throw up. More than not, the pet can heal at home and not need to see a veterinarian.

Kennel cough is spread by particles and is easily spread to other dogs in close contact through respiratory secretions and shared food or water bowls. Currently, there is no evidence of a new or unusual strain of kennel cough, according to Lavery.

“Dogs play with their mouths, they mouth each other, they play with the same sticks, they play tug-of-war when they play they involve their mouths, so if the dog is exposed to kennel cough, the incubation period can be anywhere from three to 14 days, so it may be that last weekend, that your dog was exposed to a dog that was around a coughing dog, it spread by particles,” she says.

Lavery says the clinic can test dogs for kennel cough and by the time they get the results, the pet is already over the disease complex, usually only taking five days. In some cases, a dog might need a suppressant or antibiotics to help get over kennel cough, in some cases kennel cough can lead to pneumonia.

The Bordetella vaccine is recommended to help prevent pets from catching kennel cough.

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