Kennel Cough Cases on the Rise in DC; What Every Pet Parent Needs to Know

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Through communication with our network of pet parents, veterinarians, and other pet care professionals, District Dogs has become aware that reported cases of kennel cough are increasing in the DC metro area, particularly among puppies and young dogs.

Kennel cough is an upper respiratory infection with many possible causes. One of the most common culprits is the Bordetella bronchiseptica m—bacteria, which is why we require that every dog in our care must be up to date on all vaccinations, including Bordetella. However, the Bordetella vaccine does not guarantee protection against kennel cough as many other kinds of bacteria and viruses can trigger upper respiratory infections.

What to Watch for in Your Dog

A forceful and persistent cough is the most obvious and recognizable symptom—some even say it sounds like a goose honking. Kennel cough is distinct from reverse-sneezing or gagging/vomiting sounds. This frequent and harsh cough may also be accompanied by a runny nose or eye discharge. The good news is that most cases of kennel cough are not life-threatening. With proper treatment, dogs recover in three to six weeks.

If you think your dog may have kennel cough:

  1. Immediately contact your veterinarian. While dogs can and do recover without treatment, antibiotics and/or cough suppressants can speed recovery time and reduce symptoms.
  2. Contact District Dogs to let us know your dog is ill. This allows us to review their recent visits to our facilities and alert parents of other dogs in attendance at the same time. (Please note that we respect your privacy and won’t reveal your or your dog’s identity during this process; our goal is simply to minimize risk of spread.)
  3. Isolate your dog from daycare, boarding, dog parks, and other areas where they may pass the illness to other pets. Do not return to District Dogs or other play spaces until a complete recovery has occurred.

What Steps District Dogs is Taking to Protect Your Pet

Much like kids in a school, dogs are bound to spread germs to each other during play and socialization. However, District Dogs is committed to doing everything in our power to provide a safe and fun environment for every dog in our care.

In addition to requiring proof of vaccination from all attendees, we take several steps to minimize the risk of kennel cough at our facilities. These include:

  1. Utilizing a state-of-the-art air filtration system to cycle fresh air through our facilities seven times per hour. The ventilation system is also separated into multiple zones to minimize cross-contamination between different areas of our facility.
  2. Our team regularly deep cleans all areas of the play spaces with veterinary grade disinfectants. Additionally, attendants in the playrooms ensure water bowls stay fresh and clean, while monitoring the dogs for any concerning symptoms.
  3. If a member of our team notices symptoms of kennel cough (or any other illness), the dog in question is immediately isolated from the rest of the pack and moved to a separate space where they can rest until a parent can come pick them up.
  4. If we notice these concerning symptoms during a pet’s stay or hear from a pet parent that a dog has contracted an illness after visiting one of our facilities, we will communicate with the parents of any other pet who may have been at risk of exposure.

Our top priority is making District Dogs a happy, healthy, and safe space for your pets. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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