Unusual strain of kennel cough identified in British Columbia dog population

The BC SPCA is warning pet parents across British Columbia of an unusual outbreak of canine infectious tracheobronchitis (aka: Kennel Cough), which has been found primarily in the Kamloops area, but has 24 cases identified in BC SPCA facilities.

According to the association, none of the dogs affected by the virus have become seriously ill and all are recovering, but the virus appears to be spreading fairly quickly.

Dr. Emilia Gordon, senior manager of animal health for the BC SPCA, hopes to raise awareness about the virus to help prevent the spread of the disease.

“All of the dogs we were caring for that were showing symptoms were immediately isolated, but when we started looking for known viruses and bacteria the tests came back negative. After consulting with specialists, we believe the cause could be a virus that is not detected by commercially available tests, ”she told the BC SPCA,“ because the causative agent is unknown. , we want to make sure that people are vigilant in isolating their dogs. immediately if they start to cough.

Meanwhile, the Birchwood Veterinary Clinic in Prince George has yet to see any cases of the virus or its ‘unusual strain’, however, it only opened two days ago.

“In my first two days of operation I have not (seen any cases), I think there has been a call and I think a dog will arrive next week for a potential case of a cough. kennel “, explained Dr Ben Bauman DVM and doctor at Bouleau.

According to Bauman, kennel cough is an airborne respiratory illness that can be identified by a few key symptoms.

“It’s mostly a cough, often with kennel cough, it’s the characteristic type of horn-type dry cough, but any sign of respiratory irritation increases the discharge from their nose or if they produce saliva. or extra sputum from their mouth may be a sign of that, ”he explained.

The BC SPCA says that in addition to the cough, a discharge from the eye or nose could also be symptoms of the “unusual strain”.

Additionally, Dr Bauman says increased lethargy, decreased appetite, and a greenish, crusty discharge from the face are potential signs of a secondary bacterial infection with the virus.

Because the virus is a viral infection, Dr Bauman says there is no real treatment other than vaccines given once a year.

However, when it comes to the “unusual strain,” the BC SPCA says most affected dogs have been vaccinated against it, so they may be facing a virus that is not part of current vaccination coverage.

Dr Bauman says there are several ways that parents of pets can help their pets manage symptoms at home by moistening or “nebulizing” their airways.

“You can do this either by having a humidifier where they sleep or by taking them into the bathroom when you take a shower or a bath and let them breathe or rest in that humid environment, it helps the airways to to move. get stuffed and get cleaned up, ”he added.

While any breed of dog can get kennel cough, Dr Bauman says brachycephalic breeds might have a harder time managing symptoms.

“I would say any brachycephalic dog would potentially be more affected by a viral infection because they already have increased primary respiratory issues. They have increased resistance to the flow of air in their airways and so when you get a viral infection that causes inflammation, things like these can cause the airways to swell and lead to increased expression of symptoms, ” he added.

Brachycephalic dogs are those with shortened facial and nose bones, which make them appear to have “sunken” noses, such as Pugs, Bulldogs, Pekingese, Shih Tzus, and Bull Mastiffs.

The BC SPCA is now urging dog owners to isolate their pets immediately if they start to cough and see a veterinarian.

In the meantime, the SPCA has collected samples as part of the outbreak investigation and is teaming up with specialists and diagnostic labs to investigate the cause of the outbreak.

The full BC SPCA story on the unusual Kennel Cough strain can be found here.

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