B.C. veterinarians blame COVID-19 pandemic for rise in kennel cough cases in dogs

Vets are raising the alarm to dog owners about a new outbreak of 'kennel cough'. Getty Images

The Society of B.C. Veterinarians has noticed more dogs are catching kennel cough this year than in previous years, and they think it might be due to the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the directors of the society, Dr. Fraser Davidson, said the amount of dogs coming into vet offices with kennel cough is higher than normal.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen quite so many dogs coming in in such a condensed timeframe than over the last couple of weeks,” he said.

Read more: Canadians embrace pandemic puppies and other creature comfort during COVID-19 crisis

Davidson said the increase might be because so many people got “pandemic puppies” earlier this year as people were forced into lockdowns, and weren’t able to expose them to as much of the outside world as they normally would.

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“They would have significantly more naïve immune systems than a dog that has always been exposed to things throughout their life,” he said.

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“People just haven’t been getting out and socializing with their dog as much as they had been in previous years, so the dog’s immune system just hasn’t been challenged on a low grade like they normally would.”

Read more: The New Reality: The appeal of the pandemic puppy

Davidson says another reason could be dog rescue groups importing dogs from different places around the world, bringing in a strain of the virus that local dogs aren’t used to.

He says kennel cough is extremely contagious between dogs and can be serious to puppies or dogs with weak immune systems.

His best advice is to keep your dog’s vaccinations up to date.

If you notice your dog coughing, Davidson says owners should keep them away from other dogs, and take them into a vet.

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