Is your dog coughing? P.E.I. pooches getting kennel cough

Kennel owners and veterinarians are warning pet owners about an outbreak of kennel cough in the province.

Dog owners should be on the lookout for a dry, hacking cough

Typically kennel cough is passed between dogs gathered in large groups. (Daniel Igne-Jajalla/CBC)

Kennel owners and veterinarians are warning pet owners about an outbreak of kennel cough on P.E.I.

Kennel cough is "a little bit like the human common cold," said Dr. Claudia Lister, veterinarian and part owner of New Perth Animal Hospital.

"It's not contagious to people but it is quite contagious dog to dog," she said. "In the past, I would say probably 10 days to two weeks we definitely have been seeing an increase in the numbers of dogs that are coughing."

Lister said dog owners should be on the lookout for a dry, hacking cough.

It is typically contracted dog to dog when they're in large groups, Lister said, so places like kennels and groomers have to be careful.

Some of the cough medications that are used in people can be dangerous in animals.— Dr. Claudia Lister

"It's basically not a fault necessarily of the grooming establishment or the kennel," she said, just that these are places where large numbers of dogs come into contact with one another over a long period of time.  

Respiratory disease

Lister said kennel cough is a respiratory disease and spreads much like COVID-19, with saliva droplets in the air.

"If an animal does come down with a bit of a cough, and it is just a bit of a cough, they might resolve it on their own," Lister said.

"There are times when the animal is more severely affected and they can have a very very hoarse hacking, honking kind of a cough that can last for several weeks."

Lister says dogs with a short snout, such as pugs, are at a higher risk of developing complications if they get kennel cough. (Elysha Enos/CBC)

Lister said in the more severe cases dogs may have a discharge around their eyes and mouth and stop eating.

"If they're eating and otherwise are quite bright, quite alert and doing well with no other signs or symptoms, then they don't necessarily have to rush into a veterinarian for an exam," she said.

Lister said sometimes cough medicine is used to help kennel cough — but she doesn't recommend people try that at home.

"Some of the cough medications that are used in people can be dangerous in animals. That would be something I would leave up to a veterinarian," she said.

Fionavar Kennels in Charlottetown posted on Facebook telling clients the business had been informed kennel cough is infecting Island dogs.

"We do make sure that all of our dogs that we take into our care are all up-to-date on required shots," said Kelsey Butts who works as a kennel attendant.

She said the business also went through records to make sure existing clients are up to date on vaccinations.

In an email, officials with the P.E.I. Humane Society said all dogs brought into the shelter are vaccinated as a precautionary measure. If a dog in the shelter is suspected of having kennel cough it will be isolated from the rest.

No deaths

Lister said she hasn't seen or heard of any deaths related to kennel cough this year. However, she said a few years ago kennel cough did kill some dogs on P.E.I.

Typically dogs that get the illness act normally, eat normally and just have a bit of a cough, Lister said.

"Those are animals that are probably going to recover pretty uneventfully. If it is any more than that it really is something that would be best to have them checked out by a veterinarian."

Lister said dogs with pre-existing respiratory issues and those with a short snout, such as shih tzus or pugs, are at a higher risk of complications.

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