Kennel cough a threat to pups, old, immune-deficient dogs

Q: I’m hearing rumors about kennel cough outbreaks in the area. I was planning on boarding my dog over Thanksgiving, and my dog is vaccinated. What do you recommend? E.R, Farragut

A: Yes, you heard right. There is an outbreak of kennel cough in the area. Some areas are starting to see fewer cases, while there are still quite a few active cases in other areas. The current outbreak could very well be over by Thanksgiving.

If not, it would be best if you could find a friend, family member or pet sitter to care for your pet.

These outbreaks come in cycles, just like flu outbreaks at schools.

It is possible for vaccinated dogs to still contract the disease, although it typically results in milder clinical signs and a shorter course of disease.

For readers not familiar with kennel cough, “Kennel cough” is the common name for tracheobronchitis, a contagious disease caused by a bacteria called bordetella and several viruses.

Viral particles are aerosolized when a dog coughs, so it is easily spread at kennels, dog parks, etc. — anywhere where a group of dogs are together.

The disease is generally self-limiting, causing a deep hacking cough for two-to-four weeks. Dogs generally feel well, continue to eat and drink and often don’t have a fever.

The concern is that very young dogs, old dogs or immunocompromised dogs could become seriously ill, with the potential for pneumonia.

If you believe your dog has been exposed and/or is coughing, please keep you dog at home, away from other dogs, and schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

If you have questions about your pet, you may e-mail Dr. Myers at