Circumventing Canine Cough and Feline Upper Respiratory Infections

In a community environment such as a pet resort, there is always a risk of dogs contracting canine cough, and cats catching an upper respiratory infection. Here at VCA Kennel Club Resort & Spa, we have always taken a pro-active stance on trying to limit the risk to our guests. We know you put a lot of trust in us to take excellent care of your furry family members. We do all that we can to minimize the risk of your pet catching one of these communicable diseases.

Let’s first take a look at what these microscopic buggers are and how they spread.

Canine cough in dogs is officially known as tracheobronchitis, an infection that causes a dry, hacking cough. It can be caused by many different pathogens. Often the disease of tracheobronchitis is referred to as bordetella since the most common pathogen that causes the disease is the bacterium Bordetella bronchisceptica, a relative of whooping cough, a communicable disease spread amongst humans. (For anyone who likes taxonomy, whooping cough is Bordetella pertussis). The disease can also be caused by Adenovirus 2, Parainfluenza, and various micro plasma. Canine cough can be controlled, not prevented, by vaccination.

The agents that cause canine cough are all air-borne and can be in any environment that has dogs: pet resorts, day care, animal hospitals, grooming facilities, or dog parks.

Upper respiratory infections (URIs) in cats are caused by a Herpesvirus known as Feline Rhinotracheitis Virus (FRV) and Feline Calicivirus (FCV). Either virus can cause an infection whose symptoms look just like a common cold in people: runny eyes, sneezing, runny nose, or congested nose. Both viruses are controlled, not prevented, by vaccination.

FRV and FCV are both air-borne, like bordetella, and can be in any cat-related environment.

Now that you know what these disease are, let’s see what we do to help protect your furry family member.

Vaccine Requirement
The most prominent way we help protect against canine cough or URI infections is vaccine requirements. Our bordetella vaccination requirement of every six months has been in place since we opened our doors in 1983. We chose this interval as many veterinarians in the area recommended six months for environments such as ours, where there are many dogs under one roof.

For cats, we require the FVRCP vaccination the same frequency as your veterinarian does, every year or up to three years.

Good Air System
The second way we help protect our guests is by using a sophisticated, multi-faceted air system. Our HVAC units push in climate-controlled air using hospital-grade filters. These filters are replaced on a strict 4-week cycle, shorter than the manufacturer suggests. Swamp coolers in our main kennel areas bring in fresh air from outside at multiple times per hour, pushing the older air out. Furthermore, the disinfectant we use is effective against these pathogens on surfaces.

No Sick Pets
Just like schools do not accept sick children, we do not accept sick pets. Any pet entering our facility that has obvious signs of canine cough or URI (or any other communicable disease, for that matter) will be turned away. Fortunately, it is rare.

No Pets Just Out Of Shelters
Animal shelters often have widespread issues with canine cough and URI. As animals come from unknown origins, it is incredibly difficult for shelters to be safe from these pathogens. Both URI and canine cough agents can incubate in a pet for 10 days after exposure. That means they can appear to be healthy as they leave the shelter and develop the disease days later. Because of that, we do not accept any pet recently out of the shelter. They must be in a normal home environment for 14 days to ensure they are not contagious.

Canine cough and URI are air-borne communicable diseases, making complete eradication impossible. Vaccinations, while incredibly effective, are not 100%. Factors such as age and stress level influence your pet’s immunity against the diseases.

Just like schools cannot control pupils catching colds or other communicable diseases, pet care facilities such as pet resorts do everything in their power to mitigate the chance of exposure and infection. If your cat contracts URI or your dog contracts canine cough, please know that it is a risk wherever you take your pet. It is not a sign that the facility is dirty or uncaring. High quality locations, such as ours, take these precautions to help protect guests. No one enjoys having a sick pet.

For information on how we collect and use information about you and your pet, and how you may opt-out of some uses, please see our Privacy Policy.