The Coughing Dog – Canine Swine ’Flu or……..?


Well – at least that got your attention!! Dogs in New Zealand don’t get influenza, so there is no need to quarantine your dog; but they do get an infectious cough caused by a number of organisms – viral and bacterial – called Infectious Canine Bronchitis or Kennel Cough.


This disease is normally associated with dogs that have been in close contact with numbers of dogs – hence its common name of Kennel Cough, as it is normally contracted in a boarding kennels. However, it is a highly contagious disease and can be transmitted from dog to dog at events such as dog trials, duck shooting, pig hunting, the grooming parlour or just meeting other dogs when out walking. Transmission is via direct contact or via an aerosol – so you don’t have to be close to an infectious dog for your dog to catch the disease.


Normally in South Otago this disease occurs only occasionally in association with kennel stays, but in the recent weeks we have been seeing it in the general dog population: always of concern when you want to prevent infectious diseases.


Most cases of Kennel Cough are primarily viral and, if your dog is healthy and has no underlying health issues, it is usually self limiting and mild. It causes a distinctive ‘goose honk’ cough that develops 3 to 5 days after exposure and can last for a week to ten days.


In some situations the infection is more serious – there can be bacterial infection present as well as viruses; or the animal may be old, have a known heart disease, respiratory problems or have a depressed immune system. In these cases they may require antibiotics to help their body fight the infection – if you are concerned please contact your vet.


Kennel Cough can be vaccinated against. Here at Clutha Vets we use an intranasal vaccination that gives good levels of immunity in 5 to 7 days. So if you are taking your dog into a high risk situation, it is well worth having them vaccinated a week before they are at risk. The vaccine is effective for 12 months and we would recommend that ALL dogs going in to kennels, to dog trials or any situation where there is excessive exposure to other dogs are routinely vaccinated.