During summer and holiday boarding season’s, outbreaks of infectious tracheobronchitis or canine cough are likely to occur. Pets housed in close quarters allow this highly infectious respiratory disease to spread. The disease may be caused by any number of viruses, the bacteria Bordetella and what is considered an atypical virus, mycoplasma. The resulting infections can cause severe coughing. Some pets may become lethargic or develop other signs of a respiratory disease like a discharge from their eyes or nose. In a few cases, pneumonia can develop. Vaccinations to protect from many of these causes is widely available and should be required of all pets that board or visit areas other dogs may congregate i.e. dog parks. Vaccines may not always be 100% as they cannot cover all the organisms that cause canine cough but will offer some protection and can minimize the severity of the disease.
While treatment for this disease may vary slightly from veterinarian to veterinarian, some general rules should be followed. Because this disease is often caused by a viruses or atypical viruses, antibiotics that aren’t effective against these agents should be avoided. Antibiotic resistance is a worldwide concern and should only be prescribed judiciously. Some veterinarians will reserve them for patients that are very young, have a fever or some other evidence that a bacterial component is involved. Owners can assist the healing process and minimize the risk of more serious complications by making sure their pet receives good nutrition, has access to plenty of fresh water and their activity is minimized. High energy play times and even neck collars can stimulate more coughing and exacerbate the illness. For many pets, a prescription of a mild cough suppressant can help pet and owner rest and get through the illness.
Remember to keep your pet adequately vaccinated especially if your holiday plans including boarding and take into account that, vaccines may take 4-7 days to establish immunity-now is good time to check with your veterinarian to make sure your dog is protected.