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Kennel Cough Outbreak in Florida: What Dog Owners Need to Know

In March, health officials in Miami-Dade County noticed an influx of dogs infected with Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC), commonly known as “kennel cough”. Due to growing concern, county animal services decided to suspend dog adoptions and wellness clinic services on March 23rd. Currently, this outbreak of CIRDC is limited to South Florida, but kennel cough is a common and very contagious respiratory disease. What does all of this mean for you and your furry friend? Read on to learn more.

Symptoms of Kennel Cough

Flu-like symptoms often accompany kennel cough. This can include a runny nose, lethargy, sneezing, loss of appetite, and the most tell-tale symptom, a “honking” cough. Symptoms usually appear five days after exposure. In mild cases of kennel cough, these symptoms could last up to ten days. Some dogs may not even exhibit symptoms, but can still spread CIRDC.

Kennel cough often has identical symptoms to canine influenza and canine distemper virus, so it’s important to visit your vet if you notice your dog exhibiting any unusual symptoms or behaviors. Your vet can administer a test to see if your dog has kennel cough.

How Does Kennel Cough Spread?

Kennel cough is easily transmittable. It can be spread through airborne droplets, contaminated surfaces, or direct contact. Often outbreaks of kennel cough are seen in places where dogs congregate such as dog parks, boarding and training facilities, and animal shelters. This most recent outbreak in South Florida is thought to have originated from a dog in a shelter with CIRDC.

Kennel cough is very treatable and most dogs recover. Dogs younger than six months of age and those with compromised immune systems may experience more severe cases of the disease. 

Keeping Your Dog Safe

Since kennel cough is so contagious and can be spread by dogs who don’t exhibit any symptoms, it’s hard to know when your dog could be exposed. However, there are some things you can do to decrease the chances that your dog will be infected.

Most cases of kennel cough are caused by the Bordetella bacterium, and there is a vaccine available for this. Dogs who often visit doggy daycare and boarding facilities, as well as agility courses, benefit the most from this vaccine. In fact, most of these types of facilities require proof of vaccination to keep your dog and other canines safe.

Another tip is to consult with your veterinarian if you intend to bring your dog to public places with large groups of animals often, such as dog parks. Your vet can offer safety and training tips to guarantee your dog stays safe. Since kennel cough can be spread by direct contact, good training can ensure your dog listens and stays by your side when in public places

A well-trained dog can also protect you from being held liable in the case that your dog injures another person. You could be found negligent if you lack control of your dog. According to the Florida injury attorneys at LaBovick Law Group, “a party is negligent if that party is careless, and this causes injury or death to others”. Overall, it is in your and your dog’s best interest to start training early on and develop good techniques.

South Florida’s kennel cough outbreak is important to be aware of but doesn’t directly threaten your dog’s health if you take the proper precautions. Keeping your dog up-to-date on their vaccinations, training your dog, and being extra cautious in areas where dogs congregate can help you keep your furry friend safe and healthy.

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