Aqueos - Kennel Cough

Aqueos - Kennel Cough

Kennel Cough: Are You Spreading It?

Kennel cough is a common respiratory disease affecting dogs. It is caused by a range of different viruses, and sometimes bacteria, that damage the airways. Many dogs will develop a dry hacking cough. Other symptoms include sneezing, tiredness, and decreased hunger. The very young, elderly, or those dogs with medical issues are at most risk of contracting this disease. 

How is Kennel Cough spread?

When an infected dog coughs or sneezes, tiny airborne droplets are released into their surroundings. Nearby dogs can inhale these droplets and become infected themselves. Coughing normally lasts for 2-3 weeks, but individuals can still be contagious for over a week afterward. To make matters worse, some dogs that appear healthy can also spread the disease. 

Viruses can survive on objects and surfaces (e.g. tables, food bowls, and clothing) for up to 48 hours. This makes contaminated items the second major way that kennel cough can be spread.

What role do Dog Groomers play in all this?

As a business that sees lots of different dogs daily, grooming salons have the potential to spread kennel cough. Just like in kennels - which is how this condition got its name - dogs visiting the groomers share a common airspace. Dogs will also touch many of the same objects and surfaces during their stay. Grooming tables and equipment, kennelling facilities, and the groomers themselves all pose a potential risk.

Can we prevent Kennel Cough from spreading?

It isn't possible to completely stop its spread, and dogs that develop  severe symptoms should should always be seen by a veterinarian. However, methods that will help to reduce the likelihood of spread include:

1. Vaccination: vaccinated dogs suffer fewer symptoms and recover more quickly. They are also less likely to spread the disease. The vaccine is commonly given as a squirt up the nose, and protection usually develops within 21 days.

2. Disinfection:  regularly cleaning the surfaces that dogs touch will help to kill the organisms causing kennel cough.

3. Isolation: infected dogs should be separated from healthy dogs whilst coughing, and ideally for a week afterwards. 

4. Ventilation: a constant flow of fresh air in communal areas reduces the build up of infectious air droplets. 

5. Avoid overcrowding: when kennelling dogs, they should be kept as far apart as is practically possible. 

How can grooming salons protect their clients' pets?

Ideally, the aim would be to prevent kennel cough from ever entering the grooming salon. Allowing only healthy and vaccinated dogs to attend appointments will go a long way in achieving this. However, owners may not always know if their dog is sick and some dogs can carry the disease without showing it. It is therefore also essential to take steps that will reduce the risk of spread on the premises. These can be broken down into:

Reducing airborne spread

  • Try to ensure a constant flow of fresh air throughout the grooming salon and kennelling facilities. 
  • Aim to regularly replace filters in the dryer and air conditioning units.
  • Attempt to spread appointments evenly throughout the day. 

Reducing surface-to-dog spread

  • Grooming equipment and surfaces should be disinfected often, with dog-friendly cleaning products.  Different types include: 
  • Multi-use bottles: These can be diluted down and used for cleaning any surface.
  • Sprays: A convenient way to clean items such as dog bowls, leads, and crates. 
  • Wipes: Useful for smaller pieces of equipment like hair clippers and brushes.
  • Foggers: Ideal for covering larger surfaces and tricky-to-reach areas. 
  • Groomers should try to wash their hands often and/or use hand-sanitizing gel between appointments.
  • Consider wearing clothing/aprons that are quick-drying, so they can be cleaned easily between dogs. 

In Conclusion...

Kennel cough is a common respiratory disease that often results in a dry cough. It is spread in areas where dogs meet, making grooming salons a potential source of new infections. It is not always possible to prevent dogs from getting the disease, and sick dogs should always be seen by a veterinarian. However, by taking sensible precautions, groomers can play a key role in reducing its spread. This will help to keep their furry four-legged visitors happy and healthy!

Written by Dr. Liam Bullock