GAR­DEN­ING AND PETS

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - GARDENING AND PETS - BY CRAIG REILLY

QMy old boy is a border col­lie and he is now 12 years old. He de­vel­oped a ter­ri­ble ch­esty cough last week, and the vet says it is Ken­nel Cough. I’m wor­ried it is some­thing more, as he hasn’t been into a ken­nel for years. Have you any ad­vice for me please? Pete, New­tow­nards

APoor old boy! Sorry to hear he isn’t well Pete. I can­not be sure of course with­out ex­am­in­ing him, but I can share with you that in Ban­gor over the last three weeks we have seen dozens of cases of a nasty ken­nel cough, so there is every chance that he may have caught it just out on his usual walks.

More prop­erly known as Ca­nine Cough, Ken­nel Cough is an um­brella term of any con­ta­gious cough in our pet dogs: there are sev­eral viruses and bac­te­ria ca­pa­ble of ini­ti­at­ing a nasty up­per air­way ir­ri­ta­tion, with cough­ing and sneez­ing.

Char­ac­ter­is­ti­cally, af­fected dogs may honk like a goose, or sound like a sixty-a-day smoker! The wind­pipe (tra­chea) be­comes very in­flamed and ir­ri­tated, such that even light pres­sure from a col­lar and lead, or cold air from breath­ing in out­side air on a walk will trig­ger a huge parox­ysm of cough­ing. In se­vere cases, there can be a pneu­mo­nia sec­ondary to the in­fec­tion: thank­fully such cases are rare.

Your vet may have treated him with an an­tibi­otic and some­thing to lessen the ir­ri­ta­tion. The re­ally good anti-tus­sive med­i­ca­tions have all been with­drawn now — all we have is the codeine-type that peo­ple take, and they are very poor in my ex­pe­ri­ence.

Honey licked off a spoon can help, as can a low dose of cor­ti­cos­teroids (low dose be­cause we must not risk any im­muno­sup­pres­sion as it is an in­fec­tion after all). If he does not re­spond in 4-6 days then do please take him back for a chest X-ray — there are other causes of cough, some of which are very se­ri­ous.

Check his worm­ing is cur­rent too — we do see lung worm cases in North Down and Ards — and they can look distress­ingly like Ken­nel Cough.

So best be safe and worm in case (use a good wormer be­cause some over-the­counter worm­ers don’t kill lung worms).

I would urge dog own­ers to con­sider vac­ci­nat­ing against Ken­nel Cough now — this is a nasty out­break. It’s best to pre­vent is­sues than wait for them to hap­pen. Craig is a part­ner in Cedar­mount Vet­eri­nary Clinic, Ban­gor (cedar­mountvets.co.uk). Send your pet queries to tele.vet@hot­mail.com. Craig can only re­spond to questions through this col­umn, and these an­swers can­not sub­sti­tute for treat­ment de­ci­sions based on a full his­tory and clin­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion by your vet.

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