Understanding Kennel Cough

Kennel Cough

You may not have heard of Bordetella, but there’s a good chance you have heard of kennel cough. Both refer to an extremely contagious illness that dogs and cats can transmit to each other at boarding kennels, dog parks, or any other place where animals are in close quarters. Your pet can also pick it up through contact with sneeze droplets, saliva, or other types of discharge from another infected animal.

A bacterium called Bordetella Bronchoseptica combined with the canine parainfluenza virus are the primary causes of illness in dogs. When only one of these factors causes symptoms, veterinarians refer to it as Bordetellosis.
 
How to Recognize Kennel Cough
The first thing you’re likely to notice in your dog is a dry, hacking cough. It might sound like he just has something stuck in his throat at first. The cough is caused by micro-organisms attached to your dog or cat’s respiratory cells. With cats, the earliest and most common symptoms of Bordetella are sneezing and nasal discharge. The virus weakens your pet’s immune system so he can’t fight off the effects of Bordetella. A prolonged, untreated case can cause significant respiratory distress for both cats and dogs.
 
It typically takes two to 14 days for dogs and cats to develop and display symptoms of Bordetella. The virus can remain in their body for up to three weeks. As mentioned above, it can spread quickly among unvaccinated pets in places like boarding kennels. For this reason, professional boarding facilities require proof of Bordetella vaccination. We encourage you to make sure your pet’s vaccines are up-to-date before boarding or going to the dog park.
 
Treating the Bordetella Virus
Uncomplicated cases of kennel cough normally revolve on their own within about two weeks, much like the common cold in people. Although we don’t normally prescribe antibiotics at this stage, we may be able to provide an over-the-counter medication to help your pet feel more comfortable.
 
Dogs and cats can develop bronchitis or pneumonia when they acquire a serious case of Bordetella. The best treatment at this point is an antibiotic or a bronchodilator. You should monitor your pet closely during treatment and contact us immediately is she seems worse or develops any new complications. If your pet has regular contact with other pets in a small or enclosed space, please speak to our staff about the most appropriate Bordetella vaccine schedule.
 
Photo Credit: igorr1 / Getty Images

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In Defense of Animals Sponsors Responsible Animal Guardian Month Every May

Animal Guardian Month
 
Several years ago, the organization In Defense of Animals (IDA) started the Responsible Animal Guardian campaign to encourage more respectful treatment of animals. This awareness campaign takes place the entire month of May every year. According to its website, the mission statement of the Guardian Campaign is to “bring about a more just, humane world by modeling responsible, caring, and respectful language and behavior towards the animals and people we encounter at home, in school, and in our community.”

How You Can Apply These Principals to Your Own Pet
Pets have the highest quality of life when their family cares for their whole being. This include tending to their physical, cognitive, and emotional health. IDA states that people who consider themselves their pet’s guardian rather than owner tend to have a deeper bond with the animal. Being a responsible animal guardian encompasses many things, including:
 
Spaying or neutering to prevent roaming behavior and overpopulation
 
Providing fresh water, nutritious food, and giving treats sparingly
 
Using positive reinforcement to bring about behavior change rather than punishing a pet who is still learning
 
Removing hazards from your home and yard that could cause illness or injury
 
 
Setting aside time each day to pet, talk to, and play with your dog or cat
 
Ensuring that your pet gets plenty of exercise and the chance to socialize if he has an outgoing personality
 
Besides encouraging a language change and for people to be more responsible towards animals, IDA also hopes to encourage pet adoption. Rather than buy a dog, cat, or other type of animal from a pet store or breeder, consider adopting one from an animal shelter instead. You will save a life by giving a deserving animal a second chance to have a loving family.
 
Don’t Forget to Schedule Check-Ups for Your Pet
Preventive care exams are just as important for pets as they are for people. We encourage you to schedule an annual check-up if your companion animal is between one and seven years old. Puppies, kittens, middle-aged pets, and senior pets need preventive care more often. It’s not too late to start a preventive care routine with your pet if you normally only bring her in when sick or injured.
 
Please contact Grantsburg Animal Hospital at 715-463-2536 or Wild River Veterinary Clinic at 320-629-7474 to request an appointment. If you’re out of the local area code, you can reach both clinics by calling 1-800-924-0588.

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May is Allergy and Asthma Awareness Month

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For the past several years, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has promoted asthma and allergy awareness during the month of May. While the campaign is aimed at humans, it's always a good idea for pet owners to be aware of the causes, symptoms, and treatment of these conditions in their animal friends. Since dogs and cats display different reactions to allergy and asthma triggers than people do, it can be difficult to know when they are suffering unless you know the symptoms.
 
Common Classifications of Allergies in Dogs and Cats
Animal allergies typically fall into three distinct categories. These include:
  • Atopy:  The most common type of allergy in pets is usually seasonal. Your dog or cat may be allergic to pollen in the spring, ragweed in the fall, and dust mites in the winter when she spends more time inside. Symptoms include rubbing the face, chewing the feet, constant licking in in the groin area or on the sides, inflammation, ear infections, wheezing and respiratory distress, and scabs or areas of baldness across the body.
  • Contact Dermatitis: Your pet may develop contact dermatitis when parts of his body touch something he is sensitive to. Common examples include carpet cleaners and flea collars. Symptoms of this type of allergy include intense scratching and loss of fur in severe cases. You will notice small red bumps, especially on his muzzle, feet, and belly.
  • Food: Up to 15 percent of allergies in companion animals are to food ingredients. Itching typically occurs in the anal area, limbs, trunk, face, and feet. Your dog or cat may develop chronic ear infections, skin infections, or have an increased amount of soft stool. Food intolerance, which is not a true allergy, can cause vomiting and diarrhea. We carry foods for special diets in our online store.
Asthma in Companion Animals
Cats are much more prone to asthma than dogs, but their owners often fail to recognize it. One reason for this is that an asthma attack in a cat can look like she is trying to cough up a hairball. Common asthma triggers in pets include car exhaust, fireplace or cigarette smoke, mold, mildew, household cleaners, pollen, dust, flea spray, and room deodorizers. Coughing is the primary symptom of animal asthma. Severe untreated asthma can cause daily panting and wheezing that can occasionally become life-threatening.
 
Treating Allergies and Asthma in Your Pet
For both allergies and asthma, the best form of treatment is to eliminate the trigger that caused it if possible. Since dogs with atopy allergies still need to go outside where triggers are present, we can prescribe a medication, specialty shampoo, or steroid treatment. Please click here to view the allergy relief products in our online store.
 
With asthma, treatment may consist of steroids, bronchodilators, or antihistamines. We may need to combine some of these to prevent flare-ups most effectively. If your pet has a severe asthma attack, it may be necessary to give him oxygen therapy. The good news is that with diligence on your part and careful evaluation on ours, your pet with allergies or asthma can lead a long and happy life. Additionally, the veterinarians at Grantsburg Animal Hospital and Wild River Veterinary Clinic check for signs of allergies or asthma at your pet’s annual preventive care exam

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Keep These Safety Considerations in Mind This Spring

Safety Considerations
 
Every season presents safety hazards for your pet, and spring is no exception. Your pet’s natural curiosity means that she can find trouble both inside and outside the home. The tips below will help you develop a dog or cat’s mindset as you pet-proof for the spring season.
 
Seasonal Cleaning
If you’re like many of your neighbors in the Grantsburg, Wisconsin or Wild River, Minnesota area, spring cleaning is an annual rite of passage. When you have pets, it’s important to keep cleaning products out of their reach. Even cleaning products with natural ingredients could make your pet ill if ingested. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the following household cleaning products are most toxic for pets: bleach, carpet fresheners and shampoos, fabric softener sheets, toilet cleaning tablets, and vinegar.
 
Lawn
After looking at a brown lawn for months, Minnesotans can’t wait to start working on their lawn in the spring. Just keep in mind that fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, and mulch can all have a toxic effect on your dog or cat. Be certain that you follow instructions on the label exactly and keep all products for your lawn and garden out of your pet’s reach. When mowing the grass or working in the garden, keep your pet indoors if possible.
 
Consider Screens for Your Windows
A cool breeze blowing through the house can feel better than air conditioning sometimes. However, your dog or cat could jump out an open window suddenly in response to noise or just to investigate what’s outside. If you prefer to keep your windows open, make sure each one has a screen so your pet can remain safe inside the house.
 
More Fleas and Ticks
Warm weather usually means more time spent outdoors. As welcome as this is, spring also means an increase in the prevalence of fleas and ticks. Ticks can infect your pet with serious illnesses like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease while fleas can cause allergic dermatitis. If you need help choosing the right flea and tick prevention product for your pet, just let us know.
 
Home Improvements
Many people wait until spring to add a room, paint their house, repair a wall, or complete other home improvement projects. It’s important to know your pet’s location before you get started. Your curious pet might decide to lick fresh paint or end up with a nail in his paw in the split second your turn your attention elsewhere. To avoid an emergency, plan to keep your dog or cat contained in another room or with a sitter until you have completed the project. 
 
Emergency Information
We encourage you to create a first aid kit for your pet and to keep it in a location you can get to easily. If you need immediate help, contact us after hours at 1-800-924-0588 or the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-764-7661. During regular hours, you can schedule an appointment at either clinic by calling 715-463-2536 locally or 1-800-924-0588.

Photo Credit: JLSnader / Getty Images

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