Outbreaks of “kennel cough” occur frequently in Steamboat dogs. Although we have traditionally called it “Kennel cough”, a better name for the infections we are seeing is “Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease” or simply “Canine Cough”. Right now we are seeing coughing dogs from neighborhoods all over town and dogs that frequent the dog park. Steamboat dogs are very social and active so it is understandable why a large number of dogs can become infected. That’s certainly what has happened this year. Infection can be spread by dog to dog contact, coughing or sneezing. It can also be spread on kennel surfaces, bowls, toys, collars, leashes and hands or clothing of people handling infected dogs. Because dogs may transmit the disease before they start showing clinical signs it is very easy for it to spread. Additionally some of the organisms can be shed by an infected dog for 2-3 months, well after they have stopped coughing and when they no longer have clinical signs.
Clinical signs of “Infectious Respiratory Disease” are typically a dry hacking cough that comes on quickly. Sometimes dogs will actually hack up some fluid that may be confused with vomiting. Most owners will tell us they think something is stuck in their dog’s throat because the coughing is so forceful and starts suddenly. Coughing is worse at night, with any activity or outside in cold weather. Most dogs will still be eating and have decent energy but not feel 100%. Most cases of Canine cough are caused by a combination of 2 organisms. The most common combination is infection with parainfluenza or adenovirus type 2 with bordetella bronchiseptica. The virus invades first and damages the epithelium of the respiratory tract. This damage disrupts the mucociliary escalator, an important defense mechanism which clears the airways of debris and pathogens. This dysfunction of the mucociliary escalator combined with virus-mediated suppressive effects on phagocytic cells predisposes the dog to secondary bacterial or mycoplasma infection. Some viruses are more destructive than others. Infections involving the distemper virus or canine influenza are more prone to progressing to pneumonia. Pneumonia can also be seen in any dog or puppy that is stressed or debilitated. Routine vaccines protect dogs from the above infectious agents. There is a vaccine available for Canine Flu but it is not considered a core vaccine here in Steamboat. Canine Flu is not transmissible to people.
The organisms that can infect the respiratory tract and cause coughing include
- Bordetella bronchiseptica (bacteria)
- Parainfluenza virus
- Adenovirus type 2
- Canine distemper virus
- Canine influenza virus
- Canine herpesvirus (very young puppies)
- Mycoplasma canis (a single-cell organism that is neither virus nor bacterium)
- Canine reovirus.
- Respiratory corona virus
Pet Kare Clinic uses a fairly new oral Bordatella vaccine made by Boehringer Ingelheim. This vaccine is guaranteed to protect dogs from infection with bordatella, as it is one of the most common causes of “Canine cough”. Boehringer Ingelheim will pay for testing and treatment if a vaccinated dogs gets Bordatella infection. Because of this guarantee Pet Kare Clinic was able to submit cultures from dogs with active clinical signs and accurately identify the infectious organisms. This knowledge helps us treat coughing dogs much more effectively. The information also helps us educate owners and protect more dogs from infection. We are hoping we can stop the spread in our community by having responsible and educated pet owners!
None of the coughing dogs had Bordatella. Our testing repeatedly identified that the contagious organisms in our current 2015 “Canine cough” outbreak are Mycoplasma and Respiratory Corona virus. Vaccines cover many but not all of the pathogens that can cause a cough but our current outbreak happens to be from 2 agents that don’t have vaccines available. All dogs tested showed exactly the same results and were tested for the following organisms:
- Bordatella Bronchiseptica
- Canine Influenza
- Canine Adenovirus type 2
- Canine Herpesvirus
- Canine Parainfluenza
- Canine Respiratory Coronavirus, H1N1 (Swine flu)
- Influenza H5N1 (Avian flu)
- Canine Distemper
- Mycoplasma Cynos
- Strep Zoo
PET KARE CLINIC TREATMENT RECOMMENDATIONS
We recommend treating all symptomatic dogs with antibiotics for 2 weeks Secondary infections are a concern. Minocycline is effective against mycoplasma and also has some anti-inflammatory effects that may be helpful. Treatment will also reduce shedding to other dogs and hopefully help to prevent community spread.
We recommend 2 week quarantine from beginning of clinical signs for dogs treated with antibiotics. Without antibiotic treatment dogs will be more susceptible to other bacterial infections and will carry and shed Mycoplasma for 2-3 months. With treatment the shedding of Mycoplasma can be reduced to 2 weeks. Without antibiotic treatment these dogs should be kept away from other dogs for 2-3 months or they could still be spreading mycoplasma to other dogs.
We may prescribe Rimadyl for 3-5 days for dogs that are showing more clinical signs. It is now thought that it is not only the effect of the pathogen, but more so the dog’s immune response to the pathogen that causes the inflammation and clinical signs associated with infection. Rimadyl will reduce the associated inflammation that might be causing some of the clinical signs. It is very important to make sure your dog is drinking fluids if on Rimadyl. You can increase fluid intake by adding water/chicken broth to meals and DO NOT give Rimadyl if dog you dog is not drinking normally.
We may prescribe cough suppressants if the coughing is disrupting sleep or bothersome with activity. We can prescribe stronger cough medication from Pet Kare Clinc or OTC cough suppressant like Robitussin can also be used. ( Robitussin contains Dextromethorphan: 1-2 mg/kg by mouth every 6-8 hours). Please double check to make sure that the OTC product contains ONLY Dextromethorphan and call us if you have any questions about dosing.
If you are curious what a “kennel cough” dog looks like check out this article and video from our website. Search for “Kennel cough” in our medical information library found at this link. https://petkareclinic.com/medical-information/ .
The following is more detailed information about Respiratory Corona virus and Mycoplama.
Respiratory Corona virus
Respiratory coronavirus (CRCoV) is a new (2003)coronavirus of dogs, which is widespread in North America, Japan, and several European countries. This respiratory virus is antigenically and genetically distinct from the gastrointestinal coronavirus, There is currently no vaccine available against CRCoV that could be used prophylactically or to reduce disease. Corona virus was probably transmitted to dogs from cattle. The rapid spread of disease caused by this pathogen indicates that the virus is highly contagious. Keep in mind that with viral diseases like CIV, by the time clinical signs are obvious, viral shedding is already ceasing. Mycoplasma is the organism that can be shed for longer periods of time (up to 2-3 months).
Mycoplasmas are intracellular organisms . Mycoplasma lack a true cell wall, making them capable of assuming a variety of shapes, and capable of spreading into different systems throughout the body, from the respiratory tract, where they can cause pneumonia, to the urinary tract, where they can result in various forms of diseased conditions. They are usually opportunistic organisms able to invade in combination with viruses or in immunosuppressed animals.
By: Dr Paige Lorimer
Pet Kare Clinic, Steamboat Springs, CO