Most of the time, Murphy’s Law rears it’s ugly head at the most inopportune times.  For pet parents, it can seem to happen just before you are ready to leave for vacation – in the form of ill pets.

Kennel Cough

Having a sick pet undoubtedly brings more stress to the table when you’re about to embark on your trip.  Not only are you worried about your pet, but if they were diagnosed with Bordatella (more commonly known as Kennel Cough) you now have to worry about whether your pet care plans will fall through.

Let’s answer the question at hand: Will we care for your dog if they have kennel cough?  As a pet sitter in Toms River, we’ve seen our fair share of pups sick with Kennel Cough, often times because they are referred to us by their veterinarian.  So, the answer is YES!  But let’s also talk about what Kennel Cough is and HOW we’re able to care for your dog and still protect our other client’s dogs at the same time.

What is Kennel Cough?

Bordatella is a form of bronchitis, inflammation of the bronchial tubes the lungs, in dogs and can be bacterial or viral in nature.  Just like in humans, it causes an often loud, persistent cough in our canine companions.  For the most part, your dog may appear healthy, with a normal appetite and attitude, except for that nagging cough.  While the cough is typically dry, dogs can sometimes gag and cough up, white foamy phlegm.

An examination by your veterinarian and a course of antibiotics is typically the treatment.  The symptoms can last 2-3 weeks and you should bring your dog back for a re-examination once you’ve finished the antibiotics.

How Can My Dog Get Kennel Cough?

Kennel Cough is very contagious between dogs, especially in immune-compromised elderly dogs or young puppies.  However, healthy dogs can develop the illness as well.  If you bring your dogs to dog parks, doggy daycare or any place where they can come in contact with other dogs, there is always a possibility of exposure.

How Do I Prevent Kennel Cough?

While there is no preventative that is 100% foolproof, vaccinating your dogs against Bordatella is a great place to start.  The vaccinations will help protect your dog against the most common strains of Bordatella, but there is a chance your pup can still come down with it as there are many different strains.  This is also true with human vaccines – just consider the flu vaccine.

Limiting your elderly dog or young puppy’s exposure to new dogs will also help to minimize their exposure.  If you notice a dog who is obviously coughing, remove your dog from the area.  It’s best to air on the side of caution.

Talk with your veterinarian about your dog’s risk and if the vaccination is safe for them.

If It’s So Contagious, How Do You Care for the Sick Dogs and Not Get Other Dogs Sick?

We ask that all clients inform us if their dogs are currently being treated for Kennel Cough or any upper respiratory infection or if they’ve been around sick dogs.  The health of all of our clients is a top priority!  Not only do we need to keep our other client’s dog safe but most of us have dogs of our own at home and we don’t want to get them sick either!

Here’s how we care for a dog with Kennel Cough:

  1. If at all possible, we have one team member assigned to the sick dog and the sick dog only.
  2. If the same team member has another pet’s on their schedule, then the healthy animals are cared for first and the kennel cough dog will be the last home they visit during rounds.

Regardless of when the visit is performed, the following measures are taken:

  1. After services are performed for the sick pet, the team member is to wash their hands (this is done after every pet sit anyway).
  2. They are to go home, take their shoes off and leave them at the front door.
  3. They are to change clothes and keep the exposed clothes away from their own pets.  Preferably, the clothes should be washed right away.
  4. Shoes should be wiped down with Lysol.

Our team members monitor your pet’s symptoms to make sure they don’t appear to be getting worse.  They will watch for lethargy, monitor your pup’s appetite, and make sure medications are given at appropriate dosages and times.  If at any time, they notice your pet is getting sicker, doesn’t want to eat or anything else abnormal for your pet, they will call the office and we will keep you informed.

If a team member arrives at a client’s home to provide care and they notice kennel cough or upper respiratory like systems, they understand they are to call the office to notify us so that we can discuss taking the pet to the veterinarian with the owner.  They also know that for safety sake, the above protocol is to be placed in effect.

Providing proper care to all of our client’s pets is something we take very seriously.  We strive to make sure ill pets get the attention and love they need while keeping exposure to healthy pets at a minimum.