June 21, 2021: NOTE TO OUR VALUED CLIENTS REGARDING KENNEL COUGH
Unfortunately, we have had two dogs in our facility that started coughing, and were just alerted to two other dogs who have already gone home who have started coughing as well. All dogs were here the extended weekend of June 11-14th . Though it's been a couple years since we've had an issue, it is not uncommon to see "bouts" of it as it is highly contagious and easily spread from dog to dog. We have received word from other local dog communities in DC that there are also other outbreaks around the area dog parks and facilities. Facilities across the country are seeing a large spike of cases over the last several weeks as people board their dogs for the first time in over 15 months due to the pandemic. If you do a search for "kennel cough" in the google news section, you will see all the recent articles :(.
Having worked in the dog boarding industry for 24 years, I can tell you firsthand that it can be particularly worrisome for both myself as an animal boarding facility as well as for owners who may not have experienced kennel cough before. We are alerting all owners of dogs currently here and all who are scheduled to arrive for the next two weeks so you can be made aware of what steps we are taking to help contain it.
We are going to provide a basic "fact" sheet that you may find useful if you are worried about the spread or your pet has started to cough recently. Please don't hesitate to reach out to us with any questions and please let us know if your dog does come down with it so we can write it on our calendar and track the current spread so we can reduce it. It is always recommended to consult with your individual veterinarian on the best steps to take in case your dog comes down with it as many vets may recommend different courses of action depending on your dog's age and health condition.
What is it? Kennel cough (or more correctly, canine cough) is an infectious respiratory disease of dogs. It is HIGHLY contagious. It is spread via direct contact between dogs, sneezing, "mouthing" , playing in close contact, sharing water bowls. It can therefore be transmitted fairly easily in any area where numerous dogs congregate (kennels, day cares, parks, vet offices, multiple dog households, etc).
What does it sound like? Often people think their dog is choking as it tends to make your dog make a "honking", harsh goose-honk like cough with a retch at the end. Sometimes they bring up spittle which people confuse as vomiting (it is not vomit - it is respiratory secretion)
What causes it? Numerous organisms have been implicated in causing kennel cough including: Bordetella bronchiseptica (bacteria) Parainfluenza virus Adenovirus type 2 Canine distemper virus Canine influenza virus Canine herpesvirus (very young puppies) Mycoplasma canis (a single-cell organism that is neither virus nor bacterium) Canine reovirus.
Isn't there a vaccine for "kennel cough?" Yes there is. Is it 100% effective? NO!!! The reason for this is that there are many different organisms implicated in causing kennel cough. We can't vaccinate against them all. Veterinarians do, however, vaccinate against the most common causative agents. This offers some protection for your dog. If your dog is vaccinated against kennel cough, and he/she still gets it, the disease tends to be more mild and resolves more quickly as a result.
We therefore require vaccinating against kennel cough every six months if your pet comes into our facility. This helps reduce the risk of outbreaks and contributes to "herd immunity" in our community. Please make sure your dog receives the vaccine at least 7 days prior to boarding to give your dog an opportunity to build up its immune response.
What is your facility doing to mitigate the spread? Well if we can put face masks on all the dogs, we would! But since that isn't feasible, here is a list of steps that we have taken to help reduce this current outbreak. Both sick dogs were promptly moved to a comfortable, isolated area in our home (our facility is in a separate building on the premises) to help keep them separate, comfortable, and resting during the remainder of their stay.
All exposed dogs who were here that came in close proximity to these dogs have also been moved to a separate well-ventilated resting area with their food bowls being disinfected between each meal, their individual water buckets being cleaned out (and no community water bowls), their crates/pens being disinfected and sanitized multiple times a day, and plenty of outdoor exercise and fresh air to keep them happy and well rested when inside. Each dog is getting a vitamin-c tablet (500mg for big dogs, 250mg for small dogs) to help boost their immune system. We also thoroughly disinfect our outdoor potty and play areas with the WYSIWASH hose sanitizing system multiple times a day. Owners are being notified of the potential exposure.
Our dedicated training facility has been deep cleaned, sanitized, and disinfected and given a day to air out. And though we change the premium filters in our air filtration systems (both the central HVAC system and our individual room units) monthly, we replaced them as well ahead of time. With the advancement of cleaning solutions due to our own human pandemic, we have taken advantage of the newly available equipment and are using a larger electrostatic sprayer to help make sure the disinfectant reaches all areas. Staff is washing hands frequently and all dogs will continue to have their own individual bowls and water buckets. All new dogs will be able to arrive without risk of coming into contact of any dogs that were potentially exposed last week (the benefit of having a small facility). We will continue to monitor the situation closely as always.
If my dog gets kennel cough, what should I do and what should I expect? There are two major forms of kennel cough. The first is the mild/uncomplicated form consisting of a sudden onset of coughing that may be sustained and unremitting. The cough may have a 'honking' sound if laryngitis is involved. Fever, lethargy, and inappetence are usually not present in the uncomplicated form. The coughing may last for several weeks with the range generally a few days to 1-3 weeks.
The second form is known as the severe/complicated form. This is more likely to occur in puppies, immunocompromised animals and animals simultaneously afflicted with other respiratory ailments. Chronic bronchopneumonia with coughing, respiratory distress, weight loss, anorexia, and fever may occur.
If your dog is an adult with no other concurrent disease process' or concurrent respiratory disease, MOST cases of kennel cough are SELF-LIMITING and are considered UNCOMPLICATED. This means that most cases will resolve on their own accord within 1-3 weeks. During this time, your dog is contagious and we therefore recommend that you do not place them in a social setting until they have had 5-7 concurrent days of no coughing at the very least. We also recommend avoiding strenuous exercise as this can aggravate the respiratory tract and propogate the coughing. Good general hygiene practices should be practiced to avoid spreading the disease to other dogs.
The severe or complicated form is more likely to occur in young puppies, immuno-compromised animals and animals with concurrent respiratory disease.
We therefore recommend that if you have a young puppy or very old dog with concurrent disease that develops kennel cough, to see your veterinarian quickly as they may need further treatment. Additionally, if you have a healthy adult dog that contracts kennel cough, and they start to go off their food, develop a purulent discharge from their nose or become unwell in any other way, to be seen as well.
What if I have further questions about kennel cough? If you have any further questions regarding the disease, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time. Remember, for most adult dogs, kennel cough is something that they get over on their own accord within 1-3 weeks. For younger pups, older dogs or dogs with an existing respiratory illness, we would recommend discussing with your veterinarian for further advice.
Final Thoughts: We know the timing of this is awful with the 4th of July holiday coming up. Please know we are doing the best we can to help alleviate the worst of it. We pride ourselves in being a small, manageable facility that minimizes these risks but we could use your help! If you frequent other daycares or dog parks, we ask that you kindly refrain from doing that for 2 weeks prior to your dog's stay with us to help reduce the risk of them bringing anything in with them. Just like COVID, the incubation period can be anywhere from 7-10 days, and dogs are also at risk of being carriers of it without showing symptoms so it can quietly be spread without anyone knowing for several days. Since we do require vaccinations, please make sure your dog has been vaccinated for it in the last 6 months and that they were given the booster at least 7 days before arrival.
Kennel cough is much like the common cold in humans and just like sending your kid to daycare or school, the potential risk is always there. Fortunately both our dogs who have symptoms currently only have mild coughing when walking around and are able to rest comfortably and still eat so it appears to be a minor strain, but we'd like to nip it in the bud as quickly as possible! We appreciate your patience and would understand if you chose to research other pet-sitting options at this time for your stay. We are hopeful (and praying) that we have done what we needed to do to contain it.
We appreciate each and every one of you and take so much joy in taking care of your beloved pets. - Kristina