Kennel Cough (also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis) is a highly contagious respiratory disease. Dogs commonly contract kennel cough at places where large amounts of canines congregate, such as boarding and daycare facilities, dog parks, training groups, and dog shows. Dogs can spread it to one another through airborne droplets, direct contact (e.g., touching noses), or contaminated surfaces (including water/food bowls). It’s highly treatable in most dogs but can be more severe in puppies younger than six months of age and immunocompromised dogs.
Should You Use the Dog Park?
Recently, we heard about a young OwyheeStar Weimaraner who has a severe case of Kennel Cough which is now progressed to full blown pneumonia. The Veterinarian said the pup caught the disease at the dog park. Who knows for sure; however, this is a highly contagious and easily contracted upper respiratory affliction. No one wants to think their pup caught this disease because they took them where they got infected.
The dog park is not the most likely place to catch this virus. The more likely place would be somewhere indoors — the vet office, the training facility, etc. When you are frequenting places where the dog population is larger, you need to vaccinate against this virus.
About the Vaccine
We hold to the same recommendations as the Weimaraner Club of America. This vaccine should be given after the core vaccines are completed and not combined with any other shot–such as Rabies, or a puppy shot). Whenever possible, space it two weeks apart from all other vaccines. This vaccine like the puppy shot can be a trigger–open the door for immune system issues. This type of reaction is best avoided. By following these suggestions, you avoid over-taxing the immune system. It should also be noted, that this particular vaccine develops protection more quickly than the typical puppy shot which takes two weeks to develop full immunity.
It is also important to remember that the Kennel Cough protection doesn’t necessarily last a year. Even though you get the vaccine (which is either injected or given nasally), it doesn’t guarantee you are protected or provide continuous protection. Consider getting protection when the risk is at the highest. For example, if there is a local outbreak–this is one time when you are most at risk in your dog park. Also, consider it when you are thinking of boarding, attending classes, or joining in with a group of dogs for an event.
When we think of Kennel Cough, we general think of contracting it at an enclosed facility. There is less risk in the open environment—it seems infecting your Weimaraner would (almost always) require a direct encounter with the infected counterpart. The grass and surfaces might get contaminated; however, the virus would not last long. In contrast, the Parvovirus can infect the ground for months. This upper respiratory viral infection is not as persistent or enduring–it is more of a direct contact type of thing. Therefore, take caution when thinking about taking your young Weimaraner to places dogs frequent–vet offices, pet stores, indoor facilities, and pet areas. The more dogs, the more risk there is of contracting any number of infections.
Vet offices are vigilant about sanitation; however, you are always at risk of exposure. Someone walking into the reception area with a Parvo or the Kennel cough infected dog can easily infect the immediate area–and pass it to your pet. For this reason, some veterinary clinics offer the two-door access. These facilities have a wellness entrance and a separate entrance for pets who are ill. Isn’t that a great idea?
It should be noted
Neither Cliff nor Shela is a licensed Veterinary Technicians or Veterinarian. This is our thoughts on this topic based on experience.