I live in central London and I've heard a lot of dog owners in the parks saying that kennel cough is rife. Is there anything I can do to prevent my dog catching it? Joana Smith, London
Kennel cough (tracheobronchitis) is a highly contagious disease of the respiratory system which can affect dogs of all ages and can be fatal in some cases. Both viral and bacterial infections can cause kennel cough and they are spread through the air by infected dogs sneezing and coughing. It can also be spread through nose-to-nose contact or contact with contaminated surfaces. Dogs normally catch the infection where they congregate, such as boarding kennels, dog shows, dog-training classes, with dog sitters/walkers or just in the park. If your dog catches it, it usually lasts for four weeks and your pet will be contagious to other dogs for up to three months. The symptoms are typically a very dry, hacking cough, which can cause sleepless nights for both dog and owner. The dog may also experience a high temperature, go off his/her food and become lethargic. You can get your dog vaccinated against kennel cough, which is the easiest and best way to protect them from catching it. This is especially useful for dogs kept in close proximity. The vaccination is annual and it is administered with a quick squirt into the nostril - rather than being injected in the neck. The dog doesn't even notice it.
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