Attention to All of 0ur Dog Owners,
Since early July, there has been an infectious cough circulating through the dog population in the Mankato area. The majority of dogs have a history of recent boarding, doggie day care, grooming, or playing at the dog park. They present with a sudden onset of a hacking, choking cough, and some sneezing. The majority of sick patients have still been happy, eating, and generally acting pretty well despite the cough. Most of our patients have responded nicely to a course of antibiotics and cough suppressants.
The frustrating thing about this cough is the length of time it has been hanging around. Very commonly, we see outbreaks of an infectious cough once or twice a year, but it usually burns itself out in a few weeks. This time the cough has lingered since early July and we are still seeing weekly cases of coughing dogs.
Canine infectious cough can be caused by several different organisms both bacterial and viral, and often may be a combination of more than one organism. Unfortunately, there is not a vaccine that covers all of the potential organisms that can cause infectious cough. We have sent out throat swabs to a laboratory to try to identify the causative agents with primarily negative results. In the past coughing outbreaks, a bacterial organism called Mycoplasma has often been found, so as a result of that, we are placing these coughing dogs on an antibiotic.
There is concern about the possibility of influenza being a component of this cough complex. None of the local veterinary hospitals have had a positive influenza test to date. The cases of canine influenza in the state have been more in the Twin Cities area. Often, dogs with influenza tend to be sicker than the cases we are presently seeing. Often they are running a fever, lethargic, and anorexic.
Infectious coughs of dogs are spread through nose to nose contact or aerosol contamination in an area. What can be challenging is that some organisms can be spread before the dog starts showing clinical signs of coughing.
What can you do to protect your dog? The bottom line is that any time we have an area where dogs come together, we have a risk of contracting an infectious cough. To help minimize contracting an infectious cough, have your pet vaccinated for Bordetella, Parainfluenza, and Influenza. However, remember that even though your pet is vaccinated, there are not vaccines for all potential causes of an infectious cough, but vaccination will definitely minimize your risk and can help lesson severity of the signs. If your dog has been treated for an infectious cough, please keep it away from other dogs, the dog park, or any boarding or grooming facility for two weeks to help prevent continual spread of this.
For any client that calls about their coughing dog, if the history suggests it is an infectious cough, we are having those patients come through a different entrance to minimize exposure to other dogs in our hospital. If you have any questions regarding this, please contact our office at 507-345-5900.