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Felix Adamo/ The Californian

Columnist Sherry Davis.

A requirement for enrollment in any reputable training class is written documentation of a dog's vaccinations. This is necessary to assure that adequate protection is provided against the most common infectious diseases, including "canine cough" (canine infectious respiratory disease complex).

This highly contagious and infectious disease of the upper respiratory tract can be caused by a variety of infectious organisms and viruses, and any dog, of any breed or age, can be at risk.

Before a vaccine was developed, canine cough was generally referred to as "kennel cough" because it was common for dogs housed in a community environment such as boarding kennels to come down with the disease. But we now know that there are many venues and activities where a dog can be at increased risk for contracting canine cough. These include:

* Boarding kennels

* Grooming shops

* Dog day-cares

* Dog specific and non-dog parks

* Animal shelters and rescues

* Dog shows, agility or obedience trials

* Pet stores

* Group training classes.

Although the risk of infection for a dog may be greater in areas where dogs engage with others, a dog can just as easily be exposed to canine cough after having brief contact with another dog while out for a neighborhood walk.

And although the organisms that cause canine cough are most commonly spread through direct dog to dog contact (licking or nuzzling) or through the air (coughing and sneezing), it can also be spread when a person touches an infected dog and then contaminates other surfaces, clothing or another dog.

The most common signs of canine cough are a persistent deep, hacking or "honking" cough, sneezing and a nasal discharge. Some dogs may run a fever, show decreased appetite or act depressed, and these symptoms can last several days to several weeks depending on the severity of the disease. Young puppies, older dogs and those with compromised immune systems and/or pre-existing respiratory problems are hit hardest, which can put them at increased risk for developing pneumonia.

Treatment varies depending on whether the disease is bacterial or viral and can include antibiotics, cough suppressants and anti-inflammatory drugs used alone or in combination. The organisms that cause this disease are very resilient, meaning response to treatment can be unpredictable and require prolonged therapy to bring under control.

A small number of dogs may experience side effects to canine cough vaccines, but these are minimal, self-limiting and consist of mild signs of canine cough beginning three to 10 days after being vaccinated, last two to three days and rarely require medical treatment.

In the same manner we humans come down with the common cold, your dog can be exposed to canine cough just about anywhere, so speak to your veterinarian about how to help prevent it or reduce its effects if you suspect your dog may have contracted it.

Sherry Davis is a dog trainer/ owner of CSI 4 K9s. Email her at These are her opinions, not necessarily The Californian's.