A Surprising Trend: Kennel Cough and Condo Living
Condo living has exploded in popularity and, as vets in Winnipeg, we have noticed a surprising trend. But first, some background:
Seasons Vet Clinic is in a developing area in Winnipeg, nestled between several established neighbourhoods. We are across from Ikea, a brand-new Outlet Fashion mall, and right beside the ever-popular IHOP! With all these business amenities have also come hundreds of brand new, beautiful condos!
One of the best features of these new condos is their almost universal, “Pet-Friendly” status. Their beautiful location, adjacent to Fort Whyte Alive, and being able to bring beloved pets into this new environment, has attracted everyone from seniors to young professionals.
As Vets, we focus on science and are trained to ‘sniff out’ patterns or trends that might suggest a specific disease is really gaining traction. And, we have been noticing a trend!
More research is needed
Just to be clear, more research would be needed to state this trend as fact, but we have seen it enough that we want to share what we have noticed. In fact, we have noticed this trend so often that we now pay particular attention to whether our clients live in a condo or not.
We have noticed a surprising amount of kennel cough, almost more to be described as an “outbreak”, rather than the typical individual case we see from time to time. Kennel cough is transmitted by nose-to-nose contact and sharing water dishes, and it usually occurs in pets that go to daycare or dog parks, but that isn’t the case for some of the pets we’re seeing.
The cases we are seeing included pets living in condos, even if they were not going to dog parks or daycare. And, when you think about it, it makes sense:
Imagine a building with 500 units. Say 50% have pets. All these dogs go outside, but there is only so much grass available so you have hundreds of dogs using the same patch of grass, walking the same hallway, and using the same elevator several times per day.
Kennel cough described
Kennel cough is a disease that lives up to its name. A cough of varying severity will last for about 2 weeks. Often a loud cough ends with a wretch, almost like they have something stuck in their throat. Some dogs with this disease cough so much that they keep their owners and themselves up at night. While mild cases tend to recover on their own, medication for the severe cases will let everyone have better sleep and make sure the infected dogs do not develop more serious side effects beyond just the nasty cough.
Technical Talk: Kennel cough can be caused by several different bacteria and viruses, and it is often a mixed infection of bacteria and viruses together. Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria is the most common cause, with Parainfluenza virus right behind. Mycoplasma, canine influenza virus, canine respiratory herpesvirus, canine adenovirus, distemper virus and streptococcus zooepidemicus can also cause kennel cough.
Vaccination helps, but not as well as one would like. Most vaccines offer good protection against bordetella. So, if bordetella is the only bug going around, the vaccine will prevent disease. If it is a mix of bordetella and a virus, the vaccinated dogs will have a milder cough than unvaccinated dogs. And if it is a virus not in the vaccines, everybody will be able to get the cough.
What does this all mean?
It’s ok if you live in a condo and we are certainly not trying to make anyone nervous. What we do want though, is for you to be aware that your pet has a heightened chance of contracting kennel cough if you live in a pet-friendly condo building, and we really recommend vaccinating against kennel cough. In addition, if you can, try not to expose your pets to other unvaccinated dogs, and seek out ‘bathroom areas’ that are a little less frequently used.
If you would like to read more about kennel cough and other infectious diseases, we highly recommend the Worms and Germs Blog from the University of Guelph Centre for Public Health & Zoonoses. If you ever need more information, we are happy to help in any way we can!
PS. Below are the 4 most commeon questions we get about kennel cough. Please post your comments or questions below.
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