With the summer holidays well in progress, many people will be taking their dog to the kennels for his annual stay.

Every year at this time, as the kennelled dog population increases, the number of cases of kennel cough we see each day rises predictably.

Kennel cough syndrome is caused by a number of infectious agents, some bacterial and some viral. It is infectious and contagious and is passed by airborne spread, so it is common when numbers of dogs are concentrated in a small airspace such as in a kennels. However, many people are unaware that it commonly occurs in dogs which have not been to kennels; these dogs acquire the infection from other dogs while out for a walk, in the owner’s garden or even in the house with the window open. A number of cases of spread have been recorded having occurred over a distance of greater than ½ mile, so no dogs are immune to the disease by virtue of their lifestyle.

The symptoms of the disease include severe coughing, often associated with a high temperature, vomiting, lethargy and in appetence. It can be fatal in patients who have underlying health issues but can be deeply debilitating in even the most healthy of dogs. The symptoms can last for up to 6 weeks and your dog can be an on-going source of infection to other dogs for many weeks after the signs resolve.

Bacterial forms often respond rapidly to antibiotics but the viral forms can be very persistent.

A vaccination exists which is given up the nose (intranasally), and offers protection against the most severe form of kennel cough. The immunity develops very rapidly after administration with solid protection developing within 72 hours and lasting for a full 12 months.

It is advisable for all dogs to be vaccinated against kennel cough prior to going to kennels and even dogs who will not be going to kennels will benefit from protection.