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Outbreak Of Kennel Cough Has Dog Owners On Alert

Matthew Henry

A recent outbreak of kennel cough amongst local dogs has veterinarian offices and dog service company’s on alert. 

Tony Saylor is the owner at Fetch, a kennel-free dog service that hosts dogs on their 50 acres of land. Saylor says every year Summit County has an outbreak of kennel cough, similar to the common cold that many humans catch in the winter. This year’s strain of kennel cough has been particularly bad. After a handful of dogs with confirmed cases, Fetch decided to close their doors for a while.

“We decided that it would be best if we closed the doors for a little while. Just try to help combat the illness around the county. We have dogs that come to us from all different parts of Park City. It seemed to be the more responsible thing to do. We heard from the vets that (…) we weren’t the only ones bringing dogs in that had illnesses.”

Veterinarian Evan Caplis says they’ve seen cases for the past 3 weeks. Although they aren’t sure what the disease agent is, Caplis says they’ve taken some samples and are awaiting the results. Dr. Caplis says in order to prevent the disease you should make sure your dog has it’s Bordetella vaccine. He also says you should limit your dog’s contact with other dogs.

“Limit your dogs contact with strange dogs, (…) that can be difficult to do. People like to take their dog to the dog park or hiking on trails and dogs are going to come nose to nose when they do things like that.” Caplis explains, “that’s how these diseases are transmitted, via aerosol contact from dog to dog.”

Saylor says this particular case of kennel cough seems to be extra strong.

“It seems to be resilient to the vaccine. All the dogs that come to our facility are required to be vaccinated and it was surprising at how many dogs had been vaccinated (…) were still getting sick.” Saylor says they are investigating the disease. “Along with the vets we opted to have those samples sent off for confirmation for what the exact strain is.”

Dr. Caplis says that the symptoms of kennel cough include coughing, and lethargy. He also says they treat kennel cough with antibiotics along with a humidifier.

“We’re recommending that the owners use a humidifier a couple times a day for the dogs that are having minor symptoms, such as just a cough. We want to make sure the dogs continue to eat and drink, if a dog stops eating and drinking it’s probably a good idea to have the dog re-evaluated, or if the symptoms progress.” Caplis says “The other thing that we tell people is to limit your dog’s activity. The more active a dog is that increases their respiration rate and that aggravates that cough. It makes the throat sore. So, you want to limit your dog’s activity (…) keep them on a harness you don’t want to put a leash around their neck, so the leash is pulling on their throat. That will aggravate the cough as well.”

Caplis says the disease usually runs its course within 10-15 days, and that you should keep your dog isolated even after they stop exhibiting signs as they can continue to be contagious during that two-week period.

Saylor says that Fetch plans to be open by the end of the week, he says the closure allows things to get back to normal sooner rather than later.

“We’ve already disinfected the whole place. We obviously do that more than once a day, as a regular policy. But this strain just seemed to be able to live in a clean environment even. It just made sense to close down for a couple days get a handle on things. Then get back to normal.”

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