PITTSFIELD – According to animal experts, a highly contagious local dog disease is on the rise, and it’s not to be sneezed at.
In the past few weeks several veterinarians and animal shelters / boarding houses for domestic animals have seen an increase in infectious tracheobronchitis – better known as kennel cough – in dogs.
“For the past six to eight weeks we’ve had two to three dogs a day with upper respiratory problems and I think some had kennel coughs and some had canine flu,” said Dr. John Reynolds of Pittsfield Veterinary Hospital.
Berkshire Dogs Unleashed owners had developed kennel coughs on 50 of their customers’ 200 dogs in April. Lee Kohlenberger Jr., who owns the business with his wife Kaitlyn, said it was unclear whether the dogs got sick at the Lenox store or elsewhere.
Even so, Kohlenberger agreed as a one-time offer to pay his customers’ vet bills to get the dogs treated, which cost him thousands of dollars.
“I felt it was the right thing to do. To be a new company [open since October], I didn’t want to lose these customers, “he said.
Since the brief eruption, Kohlenberger has been closing the system on Sundays and has a cleaning team come on that day to thoroughly disinfect the building.
“It’s not a monthly bill that I like to see, but it’s better than having sick dogs or losing customers,” he said.
Renee Dodds, owner of Love Us and Leave Us, says dogs incarcerated during the height of the coronavirus pandemic could be a reason kennel cough is on the rise. A few cases were processed at the Dodds site in Pittsfield in June and the first case at the Lee site was reported this month.
“So many dogs haven’t had any interaction with other dogs in months,” said Dodds. “If you are planning on getting your dog vaccinated, do it now [the vaccine] can get into their system. “
Dog daycare / boarding houses require dogs to be vaccinated, but they and vets say vaccination, like the flu vaccine in humans, is not 100 percent effective because there are different types of kennel cough.
Dr. Keith Beebe of Wahconah Veterinary Services in Hinsdale is grateful – “Thank God,” he says – that his practice has not seen an increase in kennel cough, but he knows several who have.
“Usually most cases are not that severe. The most common symptom is a dry, hacking cough that can last for a few weeks – mostly an annoying noise, ”he said.
Beebe recommends a visit to the vet. and the dog owner should consider giving antibiotics to their pet.
Other kennel cough symptoms noisy American Kennel Club:
• runny nose / sneezing;
• loss of appetite;
• Low fever.
While dog owners are more concerned about kennel cough, Reynolds says Dog flu can be more of a problem. The two have similar symptoms, but canine flu can turn into pneumonia, according to the American Kennel Club. Vets urge dog owners to get vaccinated against kennel cough and the canine flu.
“The more we vaccinate, the more we prevent disease,” said Dr. Sharon Lynch of Hilltowns Veterinary Clinic in Washington.