Kennel cough or infectious tracheobronchitis to give it its more correct title may be a relatively well known disease – with the distressing paroxysms of coughing that can persist for weeks it is perhaps not surprising that around 84% of dog owners are aware of the disease 1. Despite this familiarity many people remain confused about the causes of the condition, as well as how it is transmitted and prevented.
Significant risk to dogs
Kennel cough is a significant health risk for dogs that may be caused by a range of viruses and bacteria. However, surveys of respiratory disease outbreaks over many years reveal that the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica (Bb), as well as canine parainfluenza virus (CPi), are the most significant initiating infectious causes of respiratory disease. These bugs cause disease in their own right, but are also seen in combination with each other, as well as predisposing the dog to infection with other agents.
Data from CICADA, a national survey of infectious pet diseases reported by vets suggest there may be at least 65,000 cases of kennel cough seen by veterinary surgeons every year1 making it the country’s most widespread infectious disease of dogs. However despite the popular name for this disease it appears that more than half of reported outbreaks are likely to arise from day-to-day contact between dogs and not from kennels.
For example, a telephone survey of 50 veterinary practices2 looked into the origins of 270 kennel cough cases that had been diagnosed over a period of 30 days.
Not just a disease in kennels
The ‘at risk’ environments identified and listed by the participating practices included the local neighbourhood or park (30%), training classes (10%), dog walking (6%), dog shows (2%) and, unfortunately, even the vet practice itself. Collectively, these at risk environments exceeded the 44% of reports where kennels were […]
Canine infectious tracheobronchitis, more commonly known as kennel cough, is a highly contagious multifactorial disease of a dog’s respiratory tract. It occurs where dogs are in close contact with each other – boarding kennels, rescue centres, shows, etc.
Who is at risk of Kennel Cough?
All dogs are at risk if they are in close contact with other dogs. With a high morbidity rate, clinical signs of kennel cough can be more severe in puppies, older dogs or debilitated individuals, including fatal bronchopneumonia. Any dog which comes into contact with other dogs is at risk. The disease is also not restricted to dogs, other species can become infected.
How is Kennel Cough spread?
Canine infectious tracheobronchitis is transmitted by coughing, sneezing or nose-to-nose contact. The disease can spread rapidly and can last up to six weeks.
What are the causes of kennel cough?
The pathogens listed below are the main causes of kennel cough. However, there are other viruses and bacteria which may contribute to the kennel cough complex.
Bordetella bronchiseptica (Bb)
The commonest cause of kennel cough and from the same family as Bordetella pertussis (whooping cough in humans), Bb causes disease in a wide range of host species, including cats (where it is one of the causes of cat ‘flu), pigs, rabbits and horses. Bb can infect other species commonly kept in contact with dogs and therefore interspecies transmission is possible in particular between dogs and cats. Bb can be shed for up to four months post infection.
Canine parainfluenza virus (CPi)
Often found together with Bordetella bronchiseptica (Bb), CPi is present in mouth and nose secretions for up to two weeks post-infection. CPi alone can cause a mild cough and runny nose. However, the severity and duration of clinical signs are worse if CPi is in combination with Bb.
Canine adenovirus 1 and 2 (CAV-1 and CAV-2)
These two […]
One of the most important things you can do to give your dog a long and healthy life is to ensure that he or she is vaccinated against both common and serious canine infectious diseases.
Your dog’s mother gave her puppy immunity from disease for the first few weeks of existence by providing disease-fighting antibodies in her milk. After that period it’s up to you, with the help and advice of your veterinary surgeon, to provide that protection.
How do vaccines work?
Vaccines contain small quantities of altered or “killed” viruses, bacteria or other disease-causing organisms. When administered, they stimulate your dog’s immune system to produce disease-fighting cells and proteins – or antibodies – to protect against disease.
When should my dog be vaccinated?
The immunity that a puppy has at birth only lasts for a few weeks. It is then time to begin vaccination. The first vaccination is usually given in two doses, the first dose at around the age of 6-8 weeks and the second about 2-4 weeks later. Thereafter, your dog will require annual ‘booster’ vaccinations for the rest of his/her life to maintain protection.
Above all, follow the vaccination schedule recommended by your veterinary surgeon – if there is too long an interval between vaccinations, your dog may no longer be fully protected.
Your pet should be protected against those diseases which are most common, highly contagious and which cause serious illness or death. Such diseases include Canine Parvovirus, Canine Distemper, Infectious Canine Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza and Infectious Tracheobronchitis (also known as kennel cough).
Rabies may also be essential if your dog is travelling abroad – check with the practice and with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA): Other vaccinations may be recommended, based on your veterinary surgeon’s evaluation of the risks posed by such factors as your dog’s particular heredity, […]
Canine atopy, or allergic dermatitis, is the most common skin condition found in dogs.
What is canine atopy?
Atopy is an allergic skin disease. An allergy is an ‘over-reaction’ of the immune system to something it encounters, known as the allergen. In an ideal world, we would simply avoid the allergen. Unfortunately for dogs with Atopy, the allergen is usually something which is difficult to avoid.
What causes allergic skin disease in dogs?
House dust mites and pollens are usually the most common causes of canine atopy. Some dogs have a seasonal pattern to their atopy which can for example be worse in the summer months. For others, it can be a year-round problem.
What are the symptoms of atopy?
The allergic response to the allergen affecting your dog causes inflammation of the skin and itching. Commonly, the itching is worse around the face (especially the ears), front legs, paws and tummy. In some cases, the allergy leads to recurring ear disease. Repeated licking sometimes causes a pink discolouration to the area, as saliva may affect coat colour. This is often seen on the feet of affected individuals that habitually lick themselves.
Hair loss and open skin wounds
Persistent scratching can worsen the condition, leading to hair loss and open skin wounds that may become infected. This can be very distressing for both dog and owner.
How is canine atopy treated?
Like other allergies, treatment is difficult and many options may need to be explored before the best regime for your individual pet is found. Where possible, efforts to limit or avoid exposure should be tried, however this may prove problematic. There are many different treatments that can provide relief including shampoos, ear treatments, dietary supplements and products to modify your dog’s immune response.
Regular flea control
Often pets need a combination of more than one product for optimal control of itching. […]
Obesity in dogs
Obesity is a big health risk to pets as it is to humans. An older dog is a less active dog, so adjustments to your pet’s diet to reduce caloric intake are imperative. This will relieve pressure on the joints as well as manage the risks of a range of diseases as well as making a massive difference to an overweight dogs quality of life.
A range of diets facilitating weight loss are available which modify ingredients with for example increased fibre, fatty acids and vitamins while decreasing sodium, protein and fat.
Diabetes in dogs
Diabetes is common especially in older dogs. It is a disease in which your dog’s pancreas can no longer produce enough of the hormone insulin. More information can be found by clicking on the Diabetes section link on the right.
Arthritis in dogs
Arthritis’ severity can range from slight stiffness and lameness, difficulty in rising to inability to exercise without pain and ultimately debilitation. Keeping animals as comfortable as possible is vital. Exercise is important to maintain muscle tone and mass, can be adjusted to his/her condition. Anti-inflammatory medication can help relieve the pain. Your veterinary surgeon will prescribe any necessary medication.
Dogs and intolerance to the cold
Intolerance to cold temperatures is more likely as dogs age. There can be a range of explanations including heart and respiratory disease, as well has metabolic and hormone problems to name just a few . Move the dog bed closer to a heat-source and bring them indoors on cold days.
Tooth loss or decay in dogs
Tooth loss or decay not only makes it harder to chew but also increases the likelihood of other potentially serious health problems problems. Care with diet, the use of dental chews as well as brushing and cleaning the teeth will help keep these to a minimum.
Prostate enlargement and […]
Looking after an old dog
As a result of advances in veterinary medicine, more knowledgeable care and improved nutrition, dogs are now living much longer, healthier lives. But, just as for humans, the passage of time has its effects, and you may begin to notice that your once-frisky pet seems to have slowed down a bit.
Being aware of the natural changes that can occur as your dog becomes older, as well as what you can do to help keep your pet as healthy, active and comfortable as possible, can ensure that you both enjoy this final stage in your dog’s life to the fullest.
How and when will I know when my dog is getting “old”?
As dogs move into the geriatric phase of their lives, they experience gradual changes that are remarkably like those of ageing humans: hair can turn grey, their bodies are not as supple and reflexes not as sharp as they once were.
Hearing, eyesight and the sense of smell may deteriorate and energy levels, as well as attention spans, seem to diminish. In fact, the first sign of aging is often a general decrease in activity, combined with a tendency to sleep longer and more soundly.
Such signs may begin to manifest themselves before 8 years in large breeds like Great Danes, while smaller breeds can remain youthful until 12 years and even longer.
Furthermore, a healthy dog will most likely age later than one that has been affected by disease or environmental problems early in life. Again, as with humans, the ageing process will vary with the individual. Your veterinary surgeon will be able to judge when it’s time to consider your dog a “senior.”
Check-up time now comes twice a year
As your dog ages, regular checkups at your veterinary practice become more important than ever. In fact, at this stage […]
Hopefully you’ll have anticipated your new arrival by ‘puppy proofing’ your home, and had lots of fun choosing the bed, blanket, toys and other supplies they will need. This frisky little creature is sure to bring you much joy. In return, you can make a major contribution to your puppy’s longevity, happiness and quality of life by providing him or her with good nutrition, loving attention in a safe, clean environment and regular check-ups at your veterinary practice.
Neutering your puppy
Many veterinary surgeons believe that neutering not only helps solve the serious problem of unwanted dog overpopulation but also makes for friendlier, easier-to-live-with pets. Spayed female dogs are more relaxed, while neutered males are less likely to roam, ‘spray’ or urine-mark their territory, or fight with other males.
Sterilisation also has health benefits – it helps to minimize the risk of cancers of the reproductive organs and the mammary glands in females and reduces the incidence of prostate and testicular cancer problems in males
Spaying removes the uterus and ovaries of a female dog, often around the age of six months. A major surgical procedure, it is performed under general anaesthesia. Complications are rare and recovery normally is complete within two weeks.
Castration, also carried out under general anaesthesia, removes the testicles of a male dog through an incision at the base of the scrotum. Usually performed when the puppy is about six months old, it necessitates only a brief hospital stay. Full recovery takes about seven to ten days.
Your puppy’s basic health check
Your new puppy should visit a veterinary surgeon as soon as possible. The first visit will probably include:
A thorough physical examination to determine his/her state of health.
Check for parasites (fleas, ticks, lice, ear mites, worms).
Initial vaccination and/or a discussion of the types of vaccinations your puppy needs and when they should […]
If your dog doesn’t jump to greet you on your return home each evening, there may be a good reason – he or she may have developed canine osteoarthritis.
Which dogs are at risk of canine osteoarthritis?
A chronic, degenerative joint disease that makes movement difficult and painful, osteoarthritis mainly strikes dogs in their middle and senior years. However, younger animals can also be affected. In fact, studies show that approximately 20% of dogs have the condition in some form and, even though they are less prone, cats can also suffer from it.
It can be heart-breaking to see your once lively, always active best friend begin to limp, or notice his or her obvious pain or stiffness when moving around. There is no cure for osteoarthritis. However, if it is treated promptly, there is a great deal that you and your veterinary surgeon can do to decrease your pet’s discomfort and increase his or her mobility.
What are the early warning signs of osteoarthritis in dogs?
Difficulty in walking, climbing stairs
Reluctance to jump onto the sofa or into the car
An overall decrease in activity, especially play
Resting more than usual
Slowness in getting up from a lying position
Dogs that “bunny hop” with the hind legs, rather than running normally
Slow or stiff movements upon waking, after a rest, or in cold weather which improves with continued movement
Beginning to limp
Swollen joint(s) that is/are warm to the touch and have a limited or painful range of movement
Licking at a joint
Personality change – your pet no longer likes to be touched or played with
If you notice any of the signs above, don’t just think that your pet is “slowing down with age”. Take him or her to see your vet. The faster osteoarthritis is first diagnosed and treated, the better your pet’s quality of life will be.
What causes osteoarthritis […]
Before you plan a holiday with your dog, ask yourself will my dog be comfortable and happy on a trip? Some animals simply prefer to stay at home a ‘homesick’, possibly motion-sick pet will ruin everyone’s trip. In such a case it’s probably wiser to leave your dog with a friend, relative or hire a Ôdog sitter’. If that is not possible, you might consider boarding them atÊa clean, well-run kennel.
Going abroad with your dog? Always plan ahead
If you do decide to take your dog along, you must take as much care with the preparation of your pet’s trip as your own. If you plan to travel by plane, bus, train or boat, find out if your pet will be welcome and what kind of reservations and transport arrangements must be made.
If you’ll be staying at hotels or campsites, you must check if animals are allowed or if kennel facilities are available. If you’re staying with friends or family, make sure your dog is also invited.
Travelling abroad with your dog
Check the DEFRA website for the latest information on requirements for travelling for pets from the UK.
Travelling by plane with your dog
Contact the airline with which you wish to fly well in advance – each has its own regulations and reservations for your pet will be necessary.
Be sure to ask about the airline’s rules for dog crates or carriers.
Try to book a direct flight or one with a minimum of stops.
The airline may allow your dog in the passenger cabin if your crate or carrier can fit under the seat in front of you. If your dog must travel in the cargo hold, be at the airport early, place them in a travel crate yourself and pick them up promptly when you land.
Travelling by car with your dog
If your dog is […]
Due to illness, disease or trauma, your dog may one day require surgery. While always stressful (for both you and your dog) there are a few basic guidelines that you can follow that will make the process as complication-free as possible and put your pet on the fast road to recovery.
Depending on the type of surgery, whether minor or major, your veterinary surgeon will advise you when your dog can resume a normal lifestyle.
Caring for your dog before surgery
Your veterinary surgeon will do a check-up on your dog before the surgery to determine if there are any pre-existing conditions that may interfere with the surgical procedure.
Make sure your dog is up-to-date with annual vaccinations.
Your veterinary surgeon may suggest a blood test to screen for disease not apparent from a physical exam.
You may need to administer antibiotics prior to surgery to help control pre-existing infection for certain procedures. Speak with your veterinary surgeon to find out what are the restrictions for food and water.
Caring for your dog after surgery
Chances are your dog will be weak or groggy after surgery. Do not let him/her get too excited.
Restrain your dog with a lead or put him/her in a carrier when leaving the hospital. This will protect him/her from additional injury.
Provide only small amounts of food and water until your dog readjusts to being at home and is recovering. Too much food and water can lead to upset stomachs or vomiting.
If a special post-surgical diet has been prescribed, follow all instructions carefully.
Limit your dog’s exercise. Climbing stairs, jumping or running may open up sutures or cause nausea.
Make sure the sleeping area is clean, warm and free of draughts.
Your veterinary surgeon may prescribe medication to administer during your dog’s recovery. Follow all label instructions carefully.
Sutures are usually removed approximately 10 days after surgery. Check the […]