Does your dog have kennel cough … or something else?

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CHARLESTON, W.V. (WOWK) — A number of animal shelters have been experiencing an outbreak of kennel cough among dogs in the last few months.

“I’d like to think it’s just from the weather. I mean like whenever it’s warmer, ticks and fleas included, it just all goes up,” Jacob Cline, Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association said.

According to the American Kennel Club, symptoms of the illness include a strong “honking” cough, runny nose, sneezing, lethargy, loss of appetite and low fever.

“It’s just really a sickness that makes them cough a lot, the honking sound. It’s not necessarily life-threatening, but it’s just definitely pesty when it goes around dog to dog,” Savannah Reed, Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association said.

Kennel cough can be caused by many different infectious agents both viral and bacterial. The disease is airborne and highly contagious. Although it is common in kennels, it can be contracted anywhere. The good news is there are ways to easily prevent and treat kennel cough, which is typically not life-threatening.

“We actually do a lot to prevent it. Like I said, anytime an animal does come in, they’re immediately vaccinated. Even if that is an animal that an owner might reclaim and they had already had their vaccinations, it’s just our policy,” Reed said.

Some veterinarians encourage pet owners to make sure kennels where they board their dog require the Bordetella vaccine to ward off the illness.

“Our vet techs here and our vet will look them over, diagnose a kennel cough, and then they’ll be put on an antibiotic,” Reed said.

Other types of canine infectious diseases like kennel cough can also live on surfaces such as toys and water bowls.

Kevin Fitzgerald, DVM, a columnist for AKC Family Dog, said owners should report a coughing symptom to their veterinarian because it could be a sign of a more serious disease, such as canine distemper and canine influenza. He said such illnesses “start off with symptoms nearly identical to kennel cough.”

A collapsing trachea, bronchitis, asthma and heart disease can also cause coughing, the AKC said.

Coughing is also associated with the SARS-CoV-2 infection in dogs. Other symptoms include fever, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, sneezing, nasal discharge, ocular discharge, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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