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Kennel cough – what dog owners need to know

Did you know you need to immunise your dog against kennel cough even if you’d never dream of putting them in a boarding kennel?

Kennel cough is highly infectious and 65,000 dogs in the UK are struck down with it each year.

Poorly pooches need treatment with antibiotics and anti-inflammatories and must avoid other animals for two weeks.

Yet out of the 8.5 million dogs in the UK, only 1.5 million are vaccinated against it.

Vet and animal behaviourist Dr Huw Stacey of  Vets4Pets said: “It can make dogs very poorly, particularly puppies.

“And if they catch it when they are very young, it means they can miss out on learning to socialise with other dogs too.

“This is a really important time in their lives where they learn to behave so even just a few weeks can make a difference.

“It’s easily treated, but it also means dogs have to take antibiotics when this is something we really would like to avoid, just as we would with humans.

“The vaccine is given as a simple and quick nose spray given once a year which can prevent dogs falling ill.”

Many dog owners are choosing doggy day care, dog walkers and dedicated one-to-one pet sitters to care for their furry friend.

But even though your dog is getting cuddles rather than sitting in a lonely cage, they still need the vaccine.

The rise of dog parties, shows and agility classes means that dogs are coming in contact with more four legged friends than ever too.

Partying pooches still need immunising.

Dr Stacey says that just because a dog isn’t going into kennels and away from their home doesn’t mean they aren’t at risk.

He explained: “If a dog is going into any situation where they are coming into contact with other dogs, whether it’s at a park or an exercise area at a dog show, or a party, they need to be protected.”

Layla Flaherty’s Yorkshire Terrier Button, aged five, caught kennel cough from another dog in a park as a pup.

He hadn’t been immunised as she didn’t think he needed it as he wasn’t going in a kennel.

She said: “I make sure he has it every year now because he socialises with other dogs a lot.

“But I’ll often say to other owners that they need to have it as well and they look at me blankly because they’d never dream of putting their dogs in a boarding kennel so don’t think it could affect them. But they can pick it up anywhere where they might meet other dogs.”

Layla, 32, from Liverpool, runs a casting agency for pets, Urban Paws, and now insists any dogs who register with her are immunised.

She said: “If they’re mixing with other dogs at photoshoots and castings, or at a play date or puppy party, their owners need to be responsible and make sure they’re not carrying anything that could make the other dogs ill.

“It’s just like nursery. You wouldn’t send your kids there if they were poorly, and the same goes for dogs!”

What is Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough is an infection of the upper respiratory tract of the dog caused by a number of bacterias and viruses from chest infections to canine flu.

What are the symptoms?

Signs of Kennel Cough can be very upsetting for both the dog and owner, which can include a dry, hacking cough, gagging, a running nose and sneezing.

What should I do if I think my dog has Kennel Cough?

Take them to the vets and keep them away from other dogs. Your vet may treat the infection with antibiotics and they will need to be kept away from other dogs for up to two weeks as it’s highly contagious.

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