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Dog Coughing? Increase In Kennel Cough Cases Not Unusual In Summer

dog with head resting on a human's knees

As people head back to the office or take summer vacations, some vets are noticing an uptick in canine respiratory issues.

CARE Center Medical Director Dr. Rachel Halpin says that's not unexpected.

"It's not unusual for us to see an increase in the summertime months with dogs being more active, going to dog parks, board facilities, people going on vacation."

There are several viruses and bacteria responsible for what's commonly called "kennel cough." It's kind of like the common cold in humans.

Halpin recommends having your dog vaccinated annually as the best way to reduce their risk of catching an illness.

"We use kennel cough as a blanket term to describe 10 or so different infectious causes of coughing in dogs," Halpin points out. "Most of the cases that I've been seeing have been 'kennel cough.' Whether that's due to the classic bacteria that we think of that causes kennel cough called bordetella or if it's due to a new virus or a more virulent strain of a virus that's already out there, that we don't necessarily know."

You can also reduce your dog's risk of infection by limiting time at dog parks, daycares and in boarding facilities.

"If you have a high-risk dog that has other health conditions, I would avoid bringing them to boarding facilities or doggie daycares or dog parks right now while we're seeing this increased number of cases that are circulating."

You should contact your veterinarian about possible treatments such as an antibiotic if your dog is coughing or having respiratory issues.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) says it "is not aware of any new infectious agents that may be causing recent reports of kennel cough across the country and in Canada, nor are we aware of any connection to COVID."

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.