alertCanine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex is on the rise in North Carolina and surrounding states. Commonly known as “Kennel Cough” CIRDC isn’t actually one disease; it’s a group of very similar symptoms that are caused by various bacteria and viruses, especially the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica, zooepidemicus, mycoplasma, and the viruses adenovirus, canine distemper, canine influenza, and canine herpes. The symptoms are coughing – sometimes ending in a gag, sneezing, and green or yellow discharge from the eyes or the nose.

Since it’s hard to know which exact virus or bacteria cause the disease, it’s easier to identify the symptoms as a “clinical syndrome”.

What’s In a Name? If you’re a bit overwhelmed with all the complicated names, you’ll see why it’s easy to just say “Kennel Cough”. Easy or not, “Kennel Cough” is a misleading name, because the truth is that dogs (and sometimes cats) can get CIRDC just about anywhere there are or have been other infected animals. It’s spread by:

· direct contact: Harley and Davidson greeting (as in sniffing…) each other at the park, in a store, at the inlaw’s house, or on a walk in the neighborhood.

· inhalation of cough or sneeze droplets from an infected animal: Lloyd sneezes in the elevator or a waiting room, and Harry inhales.

· exposure to items or surfaces contaminated with the bacterium/virus: Antonia leaves her favorite frisbee beside Cleo’s fence, and Cleo picks it up, hoping for a game.

What’s That Cough? A cough can be a lot of things, and CIRDC is only one of the many. When we’re looking for the cause of a cough, we’ll look for heartworms, asthma, bronchitis, collapsed trachea, and other viruses. There is no single test for CIRDC, but sometimes we can swab to determine the specific bacterium or virus.

What Now? If your dog has a cough, often with a dry, hacking sound that makes you think she’s trying to cough up phlegm, it could be kennel cough. You should isolate your dog from other dogs, giving time for the illness to subside. Watch the symptoms, though, and contact us if they aren’t getting better. Most often, dogs recover without treatment within three weeks. Use a harness instead of a collar when you walk your dog. Make sure your home is well ventilated, too. And remember – isolate so you can avoid spreading the virus.

We sometimes use antibiotics if we determine that your dog has a bacterial infection or may be at risk FOR A secondary bacterial on top of a viral infection. Sometimes we also prescribe cough medicine and/or anti-inflammatories.

What About Vaccines? A dog’s basic vaccines can prevent some of the infections that cause CIRDC: canine parainfluenza virus, canine adenovirus type two, canine distemper, and canine influenza. But the most common bacteria that causes the CIRDC is the Bordetella bronchiseptica. This is a separate vaccine, although it can be given to very young puppies. The Bordetella vaccine must be given every 12 months. At Town N Country, dogs who attend day care or the groomer are required to have an up to date Bordetella vaccine.

What to Do.

-If your dog has symptoms of CIRDC, call us. We’ll give you special instructions on how to bring your dog to us.

-Be aware that CIRDC is spreading.

-If your dog hasn’t been vaccinated against Bordetella, now’s the time to get it done.

The name for kennel cough has changed, but we haven’t changed our commitment to keeping your pets healthy, happy, and safe! As always, if you have any questions or concerns, call us.