Can My Dog Get A Cold?
Many of us dread the winter months, not just because of the temperatures but because winter brings with it the other dreaded "cold". Catching a cold can be an irritating and uncomfortable experience for humans, but did you know your dog is also at risk year-round?
Canine cough, also known as kennel cough, is a highly contagious and infectious disease of the dog respiratory system. Caused by both a virus and bacteria, it affects the lungs, windpipe and voice box - it's considered equivalent to a human flu or cold. It's generally non-life-threatening to most dogs, however, there are circumstances where secondary issues develop, extra treatment is required.
Signs and symptoms of canine cough:
- A hacking, dry cough (the sound is usually likened to that of a goose honk)
- Runny nose
- Eye discharge
- Fever & lethargy
- Coughing to the point of vomiting
How is canine cough spread?The disease is spread very easily, particularly wherever dogs tend to congregate such as dog parks, the beach, boarding kennels; anywhere there is direct contact with an infected animal. The disease can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours, contaminating objects such as water bowls or toys, easily transmitting the infection to any dog who drinks from the bowl or plays with the toy in that period of time. Transmission can also occur just by walking past another dog or even without your pet leaving the backyard - all it takes is your dog inhaling virus particles in the air.
Who is most at risk?All dogs can contract the disease, however, young, unvaccinated puppies are highly at risk. In addition, dogs who are pregnant, older, feeling stressed or in close proximity to dust, smoke or cold can often have weakened resistance to the cough and are more vulnerable to infection and secondary illness.
I think my dog has canine cough: what next?
After exposure, canine cough normally develops in three to ten days. The more your dog coughs, the more irritated the lining of their airways becomes, further perpetuating the illness. In extreme cases, it has the potential to develop into life-threatening diseases including pneumonia. It can also persist for weeks, leaving your dog quite uncomfortable and unwell.
If your dog is exhibiting symptoms or you suspect your dog may have contracted canine cough, it's important to book them in for a check-up. It's also important to keep them at home and away from other dogs if they're unwell - no trips to the park or beach until they've recovered. While they may recover naturally, some dogs might require a course of antibiotics and cough suppressants; some might develop more severe secondary infections so it's important to be diligent in monitoring their recovery.
How can I protect my dog?
Thankfully, due to vaccinations, canine cough is not as common as it used to be. Nonetheless, it's still an issue and prevention is key in protecting your dog from illness. Vaccinating your dog and ensuring they receive yearly boosters for life, as well as their yearly health check, is the most simple and effective way of keeping them safe and healthy. Regardless of your dog's breed or age, it's important to make sure they're vaccinated.
- Dogs are at risk of canine/kennel cough year-round
- Generally non-life-threatening but can develop into secondary issues where extra treatment is required
- Canine cough is highly contagious and spreads easily wherever dogs tend to congregate (eg. dog parks, beaches, boarding kennels)
- Normally develops 3-10 days post-exposure
- Puppies, pregnant or senior dogs are most at risk
- Vaccinations with yearly boosters can keep your dog safe