Veterinarians, doggie daycares see outbreak of kennel cough in Winnipeg

Winnipeg veterinarians and dog daycare facilities have seen an alarming number of dogs infected with kennel cough in the past few weeks.

Veterinarians suggest keeping pets at home and away from dog parks, daycares until outbreak subsides

Veterinarians and doggie daycare facilities say there is an outbreak of kennel cough in Winnipeg. (CBC)

Winnipeg veterinarians and animal daycare facilities have seen an alarming number of dogs infected with kennel cough in the past few weeks.

"Every day this week I'm seeing a case or two," said Dr. Jonas Watson, Tuxedo Animal Hospital veterinarian. "So that tells us there's definitely something going on right now and it's really spreading pretty rampantly." 

Kennel cough or canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is an infectious respiratory disease that often sounds like the honk of a Canada goose. It is spread through the air or contact with an infected dog. 

In rare cases the virus can progress to more serious illness, such as pneumonia.

Last spring the Manitoba Veterinary Medical Association warned of an outbreak in Winnipeg dogs. Now, 17 months later Watson said city veterinarians are once again seeing a rise in cases.

"You know there was a time when dogs just didn't get together and now it's very common for dogs to you know, be around each other sharing food bowls, sharing water dishes, sharing toys and balls. And as a result of that, the disease has a much better chance of spreading than it has in the past," said Watson.
Owner of Winnipeg doggie daycare 'The Dog Loft' said she had to send a dog home last week after it appeared to be infected with kennel cough. (CBC)

The Charleswood Veterinary Clinic has also seen a rise in the number of kennel cough cases.

"We've probably had, I want to say, since the long weekend we've had at least half a dozen easily," said Ila Haddow, manager and technician at the Charleswood Veterinary Clinic.

Haddow said typically the clinic would see one or two cases a month. She suggests dog owners make sure their pets vaccinations are up to date to help protect against diseases like kennel cough.

'It's not our fault,' says doggie daycare owner

At least two Winnipeg dog daycares said they recently had to notify clients through social media their facilities were exposed to the kennel cough.

"Kennel cough is just like the common human cold, so unfortunately if you socialize your dog they are likely going to get a form of kennel cough in their lifetime," said Celeste Bennett, manager and owner of Happy Tails Pet Resort and Spa in South Winnipeg. 

Bennett said her facility recently experienced it's first ever case of kennel cough after more than a year in business.

"​We do not let any dogs showing symptoms into our facility, we also ask that all pups who were sick stay home for minimum three weeks after they've stopped showing symptoms completely," said Bennett.
Katie Heinrichs owns 'The Dog Loft', a doggie daycare on Marion Street in Winnipeg which was recently affected by the outbreak of kennel cough. (CBC)

"There is a vaccine but unfortunately it does not protect against all strains, just like the human flu vaccine, the strain currently going around is not protected by the vaccine. 

Bennett said almost all of her affected clients dogs had received the Bordetella vaccine which is supposed to protect against agents that cause kennel cough.

"Your dog can get it walking down the street while going for a walk or in the backyard. Just because we have a bunch of dogs here, it's not our fault," said Katie Heinrichs, owner of The Dog Loft.

Last week Heinrichs said she had to send a dog home from her daycare centre after staff suspected it might be infected with kennel cough. She said the animal was segregated and the facility thoroughly cleaned but despite that some dog owners still blamed her for putting their pets at risk.

  "I think that the owners need to educate themselves on it, talk to their vet about it. Don't call me blaming me because it is an airborne virus," Heinrichs said.

Talk to your vet

Veterinarian Jonas Watson said while kennel cough normally clears up within 10 days it's always best to check with a professional.  He recently had a case where a dog was initially believed to have the disease but was later discovered to have lung cancer.

"So you can't just assume that a dog who's coughing has kennel cough even if there's an outbreak going on. A vet really has to make that diagnosis treat the dog appropriately and make sure that there's not anything more nefarious going on that ought to be caught early," said Watson. 

Dog owners might want to keep dogs home, check with the daycares about kennel cough, and limit visits to busy dog parks, Watson said. Outbreaks typically last for about four to six weeks then disappear.

Outbreak of kennel cough in Winnipeg

5 years ago
Duration 1:55
Winnipeg veterinarians and animal daycare facilities have seen an alarming number of dogs infected with kennel cough in the past few weeks.


Caroline Barghout

Investigative Reporter, CBC Manitoba I-Team

Caroline began her career co-hosting an internet radio talk show in Toronto and then worked at various stations in Oshawa, Sudbury and Toronto before landing in Winnipeg in 2007. Since joining CBC Manitoba as a reporter in 2013, she has won an award for her work on crowded jails and her investigation into Tina Fontaine's death led to changes in the child welfare system. Email:


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