In the past few weeks, some Owensboro veterinarians have seen increased cases of canine infectious tracheobronchitis, commonly known as kennel cough.

William Purdy, a managing veterinarian at Kentuckiana Animal Clinic, said his facility closed its dog boarding and grooming services last week in response to the clinic’s high number of kennel cough cases. Those services will reopen when the risk minimizes.

And, as another preventive measure, Kentuckiana posted signs on its entrance, asking dog owners not to bring a coughing dog into the clinic. Instead, pet owners are asked to call the office from their vehicles or step inside to request assistance. A veterinarian comes out to visit coughing patients in the parking lot.

Purdy said this latest round of kennel cough is not confined to any part of town. It has spread throughout the city.

“It’s a highly contagious respiratory disease,” he said. “It’s rarely ever fatal, but some (dogs) get pretty sick with it.”

Kennel cough spreads via airborne droplets, contact with an infected dog or contact with contaminated surfaces. Dogs contract the disease where they congregate, such as doggie day cares, grooming salons, parks and shows, to name a few places.

Bacteria can live on surfaces from a few hours up to days, said Walter Marsch, a veterinarian at East Side Animal Hospital.

“We see (kennel cough) sporadically,” Marsch said.

However, his office has not seen a jump in cases recently.

If dog owners regularly travel with their pets or take them places where they may come into contact with bacteria that causes kennel cough, Marsch recommends vaccines every six months. Annual vaccines should suffice for dogs that have fewer possibilities for exposure.

According to the American Kennel Club, symptoms of kennel cough are a hard cough, sneezing, lethargy, loss of appetite and low fever.

For the past three weeks or so, Wills Animal Hospital has seen increased numbers of kennel cough and other respiratory diseases, said Cassie Garvin, one of the clinic’s veterinarians.

Her clinic also posted signs on its entrance, asking pet owners to keep coughing dogs out of the clinic.

However, Wills Animal Hospital has not shut down its boarding or grooming operations because none of its clients in those facilities have exhibited symptoms.

Pet owners should exercise caution right now, Garvin said. She recommends vaccinating dogs at least two weeks prior to taking them places where they may be exposed.

Also, it is wise to seek medical attention any time dogs start to cough.

“Coughing can be a symptom for many diseases, so it's always best to bring your dog to the veterinarian,” Garvin said.

Officials with the Daviess County Animal Control and Owensboro Humane Society did not report increased cases of kennel cough in recent weeks.

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com

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