I am sure we have all heard the term ‘kennel cough’. It has become a commonly known vernacular that encompasses an infectious condition dogs most commonly get from other pups when exposed at places such as boarding, daycare, dog parks, or grooming. Even though the phrase is commonly used, it is unlikely that most people understand the full scope of the disease process. A disease process that is multifaceted, with multiple pathogens, and is more appropriately labeled Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC).

We as pet owner are on the move! Which means our canines are either coming with us to meet and greet others, they could be spending the day playing with other pups at daycare, or they could be hanging out for the weekend with their friends at boarding. This means that we are now exposing our pets to a larger population of potential risks. This shouldn’t deter, but we should be aware and educated on what this could mean.

For the most part, ‘kennel cough’ is a mild infection that many pups can overcome, but what is usually unknown is, what is causing this?!? There are NUMEROUS pathogens that are responsible for the harsh, non-productive cough that can cause fever, inappetence, and a general feeling of malaise. Viruses, including Canine Influenza (H3N2, H3N8), Distemper, Parainfluenza, AND Bacteria, including Bordetella, Mycoplasma, are just some of the culprits that can damage the lining and cells of the respiratory tract. These pathogens (one pathogen or multiple different) can infect and replicate in the alveoli/trachea/bronchi and lead to potential inflammatory reactions and even pneumonia.

We have been fortunate in recent years to not have a known nationwide outbreak of respiratory pathogens, but it appears there is an emergence of Canine Influenza in the Atlanta Metro area that we need to take note of. We at PHAH want to ensure the best action plan for our patients and clients.

With the emergence of Canine Influenza popping up around the city, we are urging our clients to update their dog’s vaccine for the respiratory diseases we can protect against, or at least limit the severity of. These vaccines include intranasal or injectable Bordetella, the DHLPP injection, and the Canine Influenza injection (H3N2, H3N8). We also ask that you consider your pet’s exposure risks and your pet’s personal risk factors based on previously diagnosed ailments. If appropriate, consider limiting exposure when and where necessary.

Lastly, don’t panic. We are here to help. We have a doctor dedicated to TeleVet daily that is available to chat with you about worries, clinical signs, and therapies. We have PCR testing that looks at the major pathogens and helps guide us in our decision-making process. We have treatment options including antibiotic coverage, inflammatory mediators, among others. And we have the potential for more advanced diagnostics including X-rays to help aid in diagnosis and treatment. We are here to make sure that our clients are informed and can make the best decision regarding their pets care. Please let us know how we can be of assistance during this time. Please reach out with any questions you may have.

Thank you for your time and take care.

Mark Belyeu, DVM