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Canine Cough FAQ

  • What is Canine Cough (CC) and why did my dog get it? 
    • CC is a general term for an upper respiratory infection that causes a cough.  The cough is often triggered by activity or excitement.  So your dog may seem perfectly normal one moment and then begins coughing during exercise, excitement, or anything else that causes the airway to be stimulated.  Some dogs will only cough once or twice a day and others cough frequently.
    •  CC can be caused by multiple different bacteria or viruses.  We have most often seen mycoplasma (a bacteria) as the culprit.  CC is transferred from one dog to another by saliva or air droplets when a dog exhales.  Social dogs are at a higher risk because they are in contact with other dogs and are often playing with their mouths, sharing water, and sniffing the ground where these droplets may reside. 
  • Are Kennel Cough and Canine Cough the same thing?
    • Yes, Kennel Cough is the old terminology, given because that is when dogs most often got it….when they were boarded.  Over the past few decades, dogs have become much more social.  Dog Parks, dog-friendly stores, and daycares are all available now and are likely places for dogs to get contagious illness.  So the term kennel cough doesn’t quite cover it anymore. 
  • My dog was vaccinated for Bordetella, with the “kennel cough” vaccine.  Why did they still get it?
    • Bordetella is just one of the multiple bacteria that can cause a cough.  And it’s a nasty one.  Thankfully there is a vaccination to help prevent it in dogs.  The cough that is associated with social dogs in daycare settings is rarely Bordetella.
  • How serious is CC and will my dog be seriously ill?
    • Any upper respiratory infection could be serious, dependent on what type it is, the health of the dog, and whether or not treatment is given.  Most cases that we see in our community do not cause any serious threat, even if untreated.  But it could lead to pneumonia and that is serious.  So we always recommend that you see your Veterinarian if your dog begins coughing. 
  • Will better cleaning practices at the daycare prevent CC?
    • While good cleaning and sanitizing is important in the daycare setting for a whole host of reasons, it unfortunately will not totally prevent the spread of CC.  The primary risk is playing with the other dogs who might be carriers.
  • Does Play All Day restrict affected dogs from attending daycare?
    • Yes.  But unfortunately, some dogs carry the bacteria/virus and do not have any symptoms.  Without a cough, we do not know that a dog is affected.  That is how it starts and spreads so quickly.  But once a dog starts coughing, we restrict daycare access.
  • How long will my dog be out of daycare if affected?
    • We encourage all our affected dogs to see the Veterinarian and begin treatment if recommended.  If treated with antibiotics, we ask that you keep your dog home for one week after the start of antibiotics (assuming your dog is healthy and not coughing).  If you decide not to treat your dog, we ask that you keep your dog home for 2 weeks from the start of the cough (assuming your dog is healthy and not coughing).
  • Will my dog get CC every time it comes through the daycare?
    • It has been our experience over the past 12 years that dogs do not repeatedly get the cough.  Our statistics at the daycare show that only a very small number will get CC a second time.  There seems to be some sort of immunity that is developed.  We cannot guarantee that, but that has been our experience over a long period of time with many dogs in our sample. 
  • If my dog is exposed to CC, how long will it take for them to have symptoms?
    • This is variable.  We’ve seen dogs get symptoms within a few days and others after a week.  That’s what makes it so darn hard to manage. 
  • I have other dogs in my home who do not attend daycare.  Will they be at risk?
    • Yes, they will.  And you should pay special attention to this if your dogs at home have risk factors of being older, ill, or very young puppies.  Talk to your Veterinarian about this as you consider the risks.
  • Can I just keep my dog home from daycare if there is a CC outbreak? 
    • Whether or not you bring your dog to daycare, for any reason, is always your choice.  Related to CC, you would have to keep your dog out for 4-6 weeks to fully protect them.  That is usually the amount of time it takes to clear out and move on.  While daycare increases the risk, holding daycare does not totally prevent the risk.  There are cases in which dogs who are not social at all, still end up with CC somehow.  And remember that if your dog has had it in the past, it is likely that they will not get it again. 
    • If you decide to pull your dog from daycare temporarily, we will discuss Membership issues with you at that time. 
  • Other thoughts:
    • CC is a pain in the butt for you, your dog, and the daycare.  It’s very much like children getting a “bug” at the daycare.  It causes disruption for the parents, for the daycare, and the child feels poorly.  But it is part of life and part of being social.  We like to think of CC in terms of risk vs. benefit.  Yes, CC is a risk of daycare, but the benefit is a well socialized, happy, tired dog.  In this case, we think the benefits outweigh the risk. 
    • This FAQ is informational and not intended as medical advice.  Each dog is an individual and that should be considered.  We strongly encourage conversations with your Veterinary team as you consider this issue.

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