This is a long one. I guess I've been holding it in too long. Happy Reading!
Lately we've had a resurgence of canine (dog) kennel cough aka a bacteria known as bordetella bronchiseptica. That name might look a tad familiar. Human whooping cough is bordetella pertussus.
While this disease is annoying, for most dogs it's not serious. It is common to hear a honking cough (they sound like a goose honking) and this can go on for days, even weeks keeping you up at night. Kennel cough is also highly contagious and can go through a large dog population in no time. Transmission is either directly and indirectly with dog kennels, training classes, grooming business, parks and walking trails where dogs frequent being the likeliest places for your dog(s) to catch the disease. It's easily and cheaply preventable through vaccination and almost just as easy to medicate (veterinary exam required).
So, lets say your dog's been exposed. How long will it take before they start coughing? Usually 7-10 days but I have heard of shorter incubation periods.
There are two types of vaccinations, intranasal (up the nose) which will give your dog protection in a day or two or the injectable version which takes a couple of weeks and a booster in 2-3 weeks for a better protection than the nasal version. Your veterinarian is will vaccinate your dog according to your situation. If the dog has been expose but not showing any symptoms, they may give the nasal version. If your being cautious and want to prevent the disease before boarding or obedience training, they may give the injection. You may also want to isolate the sick dog for a while but that won't mean you won't carry the disease around on you or your clothes so keep up with the personal hygiene and use your friend Mr. Bleach to clean up.
Older dogs and young puppies may be at a higher risk for secondary pneumonia.
RABIES (a public health service announcement)
Just last week we had a positive cat for rabies in the Culbertson area. That's scary. I've got a 3-4 page document at the office if you'd like all the details but I'll summarize today.
Animals At Risk- ALL WARM BLOODED MAMMALS, cattle, sheep, horses, dogs, cats, HUMANS, raccoons, skunks, bats, etc
Skunks can be born with the disease and live for years without showing any symptoms.
Transmission- Saliva is the best way to spread it even if they don't bit you. They can drooling you anywhere and if you have an open wound (scratch, scrape, whatever) it can get in. Your skin is your first defense. Don't let them bite you.
Symptoms- There are two forms of rabies. Aggressive- when wild animals that usually avoid humans suddenly attack us for no reason. Dumb- The animal stands there lost in outer space. They also say that some animals, cats in particular, can change their personalities. They can go from avoiding you to being your best friend back in a few seconds increasing your risk of being bitten. They may also experience hydrophobia or fear of water. They actually aren't afraid of water but are unable to swallow, which is why some animals froth at the mouth. Once symptoms are present, death is the only result. Vaccinations or treatments will not prevent this. Other neurologic diseases like Canine distemper can mimic Rabies so be cautious when handling animals that are "not right".
Incubation Period or the time between when you get bitten to the time when you start experiencing symptoms. This could be anywhere from days to months depending on how close to the head you are bitten. Why? The virus travels the nerves from where the bite occurred to the central nervous system.
Testing There are two ways of testing. One is a 10 day quarantine (some states use 14 days). If the animal is positive, they usually die from the disease within 10 days. If you are bitten by a stray or feral animal, the only legally way to test is to send the brain to the state lab in Topeka KS (Nebraska no longer tests). There is a new saliva test out but hasn't met approval in any of the states and can show false negatives.
Prevention With dog, cats, ferrets, cattle and horses, vaccination is the way to go. With dogs, cats and ferrets the vaccination has to be given by a Veterinarian (in order to be legal and hold up in court). Dogs and cats need to be vaccinated at 12 weeks of age (according to Nebraska state law) and boostered 1 year from the first vaccine, then can go to every three years. Horses need to be vaccinated annually. They do have a bait vaccine for wild animals but they won't let us use if for wild barn cats (now if that isn't a can of worms, I don't know what is).
Disease prevention and public health is the primary reason I joined the Dog Control Committee. Rabies and the recent rash of dog bite victims is what kept me there. The more control we have over our pets (within reason), the safer we and our children will be. Thanks to the strays, our outdoor pets have an increased risk of getting diseases that may or may not be treatable like Feline Leukemia, Feline Aids (the more they fight it, the quicker it kills them, Feline Infectious Peritonitis (not treatable), Canine Distemper (I haven't seen to many dogs survive distemper, Feline Distemper (can kill kittens in 24 hours), Canine Parvovirus (which hasn't got a great survivability either), Feline Hemorrhagic Calicivirus (highly contagious, not a pretty way to go and difficult to treat) and many more. (feline = cat, canine = dog)
This is also a means of preventing accidental breeding of naturally aggressive pets, decrease the high number of dogs and cats and strays that go through our McCook Humane Society every year. Your pet wearing identification tags, individually numbered rabies tags and individually numbered license tags also increase the likelihood of being returned.
Our police officer have better things to do than chase animals and risk being bitten by a rabid or aggressive animal. That Animal Control Officer will be trained to read the behavior of the animal and be vaccinated against rabies. Why we got rid of the last one 20+ years ago, I have no idea.
One more thing, Vaccinations are not permanent, life long or don't need to be boostered. Vaccinations are not 100% guaranteed to prevent your pet from getting sick and there are some diseases they don't have a vaccine or have unreliable vaccines. Vaccines on rare occasions have been linked to cancer in cats but it seldom occurs.
Vaccines are cheaper than treating the disease (see my blog on Parvovirus) http://www.mccookgazette.com/blogs/amystrauch/entry/21486/. Vaccines despite not being 100% are good insurance at preventing diseases.
I highly recommend having a veterinarian give vaccinations (not because I want more money) but because vaccine reactions do happen and are serious. We have the Doctors vaccinate our children, why would we vaccinate our pets.
Wild animals can also carry around dog and cat diseases and we have plenty wild animals around here.
Okay, I thinks I've probably said enough. It's long enough as it is and doesn't need to be any longer.