Dogs in Chicago are getting sick. It’s an outbreak, and according to this report, and Dr. Natalie Marks in Chicago says it’s a strain of Bordetella, often called kennel cough. Other veterinarians aren’t certain, and suggest it’s possible that the infectious culprit could be the canine influenza virus. Cook County veterinarian and rabies administrator Dr. Donna Alexander says she’s just not sure what it is.
But whatever the cause, some dogs are getting sick, and some have reportedly died.
The vaccine for kennel cough might be somewhat protective, but this bordetella strain might not be affected by the vaccine. There is a vaccine for the canine flu, but usually vaccines are suggested in places only where there is an outbreak – which might be what’s happening, or not. Certainly, the Bordetella vaccine is suggested anyway for all dogs who frequently encounter other dogs.
There’s no need to panic, but taking logical precautions (aside from vaccine protection) might be prudent, such as first checking with your veterinarian to determine if there are reports of the virus where you live. Some areas are seeing many sick dogs, others not as much.
In areas where there are many sick dogs, consider staying away from dog parks. Some doggy daycare facilities have closed their doors as a precaution, others remain open, but you may want to consider leaving Fido at home. Dog training classes are important, but definitely talk with the instructor. Depending of how much virus is going around near you, waiting until the next session begins might be a plan, and the same is true for dogs participating in organized canine sports and activities.
If Dr. Alexander’s idea was in place – veterinarians would know more. There’s no Center for Disease Control for animals;, her thought is for her office to become a repository for data, at least in Cook County. With enough samples from different veterinarians, her office might figure out what’s happening county-wide.
Of course, anytime there’s a sudden change in a pets’ behavior, contact your veterinarian. Symptoms are dogs who might otherwise scarf down food becoming a picky eater; clearly the dog is acting like he/she doesn’t feel well, coughing, perhaps even breathing heavily. Pneumonia has developed in some dogs, and that’s serious. Like in people, catching illness early is helpful, and may suggest a better prognosis.