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Kennel Cough, it infects just like it spreads; quickly and swiftly.

Kennel Cough, two words that no Veterinarian or dog owner wants to hear. Unfortunately, it is a common thing that we likely all will have to deal with at one point or another so it's best that we help educate our pet parents on the best ways to prevent and treat it.

What is it? Kennel cough, also known as Bordetella or contagious tracheobronchitis, is an upper respiratory infection caused by a co-infection of a virus and bacteria. It causes the airways (trachea & bronchi) to become inflamed making for a potentially stuffed-up and coughing pup. It is also highly contagious, especially among unvaccinated dogs, senior dogs and puppies.

Dogs can contract kennel cough from another dog's infected bodily secretions some examples include:

  • Drinking from the same water bowl.

  • Drool/Saliva from playing or licking each other.

  • Direct contact

  • Contaminated surfaces

  • It can also be contracted simply from microscopic droplets coughed into the air by an infected dog and then breathed in by another dog (just like humans transmit the common cold or the flu to each other).

At times the infection can go undetected for days, many owners bring their dogs to dog parks and day cares while the pooch is spreading the illness, not because they are careless, but because they are simply unaware. By the time it is noticed that a dog is coughing, he might have been a silent carrier for days and already infected many of his playmates.

What are the Symptoms? They can be all or some of the following:

- Coughing (quiet hardly noticeable coughing / loud barky type coughs) - Hacking or honking (sometimes followed up with them throwing up white foamy liquid or their food) - Sneezing or discharge from nose (clear to green) - Crusty eyes - Lethargy - Loss of appetite - Possible fever

What Can you do to help stop the Spread?

Having your dog's kennel cough vaccinations up to date is very important because it will protect them against the most common strains out there and potentially give them partial protection against some newly mutated strains. We advise vaccinating them at minimum once a year, more often for show dogs or those that are kenneled at doggy daycares often.

If your pooch is showing signs of an upper respiratory infection it is always best to bring them to the vet, especially brachycephalic breeds (flat-nosed breeds) like Bulldogs or Boston Terriers who already have a harder time breathing.

There is no "cure" for a virus, but it is commonly self-limiting. We recommend rest and watching for symptoms like a green or yellow discharge from nose and/or mouth and fever. We may prescribe antibiotics if a secondary bacterial infection or bronchopneumonia is diagnosed. Please watch for signs of fever, continued cough, lethargy, and decreased appetite, as these may signal the development of pneumonia, which is seen in rare cases.

Most importantly, please keep your dog away from other dogs for at least 2 weeks after the cough has resolved. It is also very important you disinfect your hands and clothing after having handled a dog with kennel cough and before touching another dog. It is a very contagious disease.


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Erindale Animal Hospital in the News

Follow the link to watch the CTV News Report

Carla Shynkaruk

Multi-Skilled Journalist CTV News Saskatoon

Updated Aug. 23, 2023 10:59 a.m. PDT

Published Aug. 22, 2023 5:43 p.m. PDT

There’s a natural hazard lurking in the weeds in Saskatoon this time of year that dog owners should be aware of because it could mean costly vet bills or even losing your pet.

Foxtails have been seen more over the past five years and pet owners should be on the lookout.

Sophie is a Shih Tzu Pomeranian, and in her 10 years, her owner Hannah Carswell has never had to deal with a foxtail encounter- until this month.

“Sophie was on the deck of my condo, and she started skittering around and I didn’t know what was wrong with her. She was coughing, and choking and hacking,” Carswell told CTV News.

It was nighttime and her vet wasn’t open, so she waited until the morning. That’s when the vet confirmed it was foxtail, a potentially deadly weed according to Veterinarian Miranda Wallace at the Erindale Animal Hospital.

“It is a bigger deal than people would suspect,” Wallace says.

The grassy weed is topped with a sharp needle which can get stuck in a pet’s coat, paws, or worse if ingested.

“Sometimes it can migrate to places, that can cause issues. Granulomas or abscesses in lungs and chest and migrate into sinuses,” according to Wallace. 

Nicole German experienced foxtails with her previous dog and faced $5000 in vet bills.

“She ate them, so we went through two really serious bouts removing hundreds of foxtails under anaesthesia. Removing them from her throat, mouth, esophagus, we almost lost her,” German told CTV News.

Her new dog is only nine months old and hasn’t had a run-in with foxtails, mostly because the family is diligent and watches for them, according to German. She’s also taken to Facebook to warn other dog owners, so they don’t have to endure what she did.

At the Erindale clinic they’re prepared for numerous cases in the summer with foxtail case numbers on the rise over the past five years.

“We’ve had a few cases come in already. We actually have a case coming in today for foxtails.”

Wallace wants pet owners to watch their dogs and closely monitor what they are eating.

“If you notice that your dog is sniffing around in the grass and then starts pawing at their face, sneezing or coughing that could be an indication that they have a foxtail,” she said.

Tent signs have been put up in various locations around the city, in parks and green spaces.

The signs provide little consolation for Carswell and Sophie.

“It was a really scary. I’m paranoid. I will not take her to the dog parks. The small dog park has them.”

The City of Saskatoon said in an email it is currently managing problem foxtail areas.

“(In) 2021, the City began its educational efforts on foxtail, including information on prevention and control techniques for foxtail barley (foxtail) for developers and landowners.”

For more information and to download a copy of the guide, visit

For more information about the amazing product OutFox Field Guard, please check out their website

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