Since spring break 2017—and the increased number of boarded dogs that comes with that travel time—we are seeing more coughing dogs in Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County.
At this point we have not identified any new organisms, just the normal combination of Bordetella, parainfluenza, and other viruses that make up Contagious Canine Cough. The few very sick animals we have tested for respiratory pathogens have shown Bordetella and mycoplasma. Influenza H3N2 is still active in Chicago, with 100 cases identified by Cornell this year; this has not been identified here.
Signs are typically a dog that starts gagging and coughing at home with throat clearing that may produce vomiting with white foam. Often the cough starts in the middle of the night. Usually we can identify a period of contact with other dogs 3-7 days before the gagging and coughing start.
Although each day care and kennel is quick to call and send home any dogs they notice coughing, animals are probably contagious before they show symptoms, so the cycle continues.
Symptomatic dogs should be kept at home, away from other dogs. We typically start coughing dogs on a 14 day course of oral doxycycline, and oral cough suppressants as needed; most dogs will recover fully. Occasional cases may progress to chronic cough, or become more sick with pnuemonia though so far, complications have been rare.
For dogs currently attending day care or going to a kennel every week, they are being exposed or have already been exposed. For dogs that are only sent to a kennel for a one-time-per-year trip, going to a public dog mixing place—even if the dog is fully vaccinated for Bordetella—may increase risk for bringing home a cough. Until this outbreak quiets down, it would be safer to find a friend or family member to care for your dog so as to avoid exposing the rarely-kenneled pet.
If you are bringing a coughing dog into A2AH we request you leave him in the car while you check in. We are then able to bring your dog in without exposing other pups to the potentially contagious cough. Rooms with dogs found to have a contagious cough are thoroughly sterilised and remain unused for 24 hours. We appreciate your cooperation!