Our Maine Street's Aroostook Issue 1 : Summer 2009 - Page 53

County Critters with Dr. Hotham It is finally summertime and some of you may need to board your dog in a boarding kennel while you are away from home. Dogs that are exposed to other dogs are at increased risk of contracting infectious tracheobronchitis, otherwise known as kennel cough. Kennel cough is the most common respiratory disease of dogs. Frequently, there is a history of being in contact with other dogs such as at a kennel, dog daycare, or obedience classes two to ten days prior to the onset of clinical signs. This respiratory disease is caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica, parainfluenza virus, Mycoplasma, canine adenovirus types 1 & 2, canine herpes virus and canine distemper virus alone or in combination. Bordetella infections can be picked up by rabbits, guinea pigs, pigs, young kittens and dogs. It is also closely related to Bordetella pertussis, the cause of whooping cough. Thus, immunocompromised individuals may potentially get infected. Dogs with kennel cough make a harsh, honking cough sound that many people describe as something is stuck in their dog’s throat. Also, the coughing is worse with exercise or excitement. Affected animals usually act normal and eat well with this condition and often recover uneventfully within 1-2 weeks, however; in some circumstances it can develop into pneumonia. Infections spread by infected dogs shedding the bacteria and/or viruses in respiratory secretions. These secretions become aerosolized and can be inhaled by a healthy dog. The normal respiratory tract has many safeguards against invading pathogens, the most important is the mucociliary escalator. This consists of tiny hair-like structures called cilia that protrude from the lining of the respiratory tract. These cilia have a rhythmic wave or beating motion that is covered in mucus which traps viruses and bacteria. The mucocilliary apparatus’ coordinated motion moves the mucus and debris up the windpipe near the throat where it can be coughed up and/ or swallowed. The aforementioned viruses damage the mucociliary apparatus as well as dust exposure, cigarette smoke, stress and poor ventilation. With the protective mechanism compromised, Bordetella bronchiseptica organisms attack the respiratory tract unimpeded. Although most cases go away on their own, many veterinarians feel they can hasten the recovery with antibiotics and reduce the symptoms with cough suppressants. If you have a young puppy with these symptoms take it seriously, especially if they have recently traveled, come from a shelter or from a pet store because they frequently end up with pneumonia. There are two kennel cough vaccinations options, injectable and intranasal. Vaccination can reduce the risk of acquiring the disease and/or decrease the severity of the symptoms. Injectable vaccines give good immunity as long as 2 doses are given 3 to 4 weeks apart. Puppies should receive kennel cough vaccines at approximated 4 months of age, if injectable vaccine is used. Puppies less than 4 months of age may have maternal antibodies that interfere with the injectable vaccine and make it ineffective. Puppies can receive the intranasal vaccine as early as 3 weeks of age and immunity will typically last 10 -12 months. One advantage of the intranasal vaccine is that it will give a good immune response by 4 days postvaccination. So, if you need to get your dog vaccinated in a hurry and it has never been vaccinated before, this vaccine is a good choice as long as you have 4 days before kenneling. As a general rule, intransal vaccines give your dog faster immunity than injectable vaccinations. In summary, kennel cough is usually self-limiting and will resolve in 1 -2 weeks. Veterinary examination and treatment hastens the recovery and better ables your pet to be diagnosed properly to ensure that a more serious condition is not present. Vaccination is an important part of preventing this disease. Dogs that are exposed to other dogs should receive either injectable or intranasal Bordetella bronchiseptica as well as modified live virus vaccines for parainfluenza and canine adenovirus type 2. As always, annual or biannual exams are critical to maintaining healthy pets. Dr. Hotham is an Aroostook county native and owner of Hotham’s Veterinary Services Inc., which offers a wide variety of small and large animal services. County Critters 51