Veterinarians across L.A. are seeing increase of kennel cough

Veterinary clinics across L.A. are seeing an influx of kennel cough. Dogs are contracting the highly contagious, upper-respiratory airborne virus in social settings, like boarding and grooming facilities and dog parks.

Veterinarians say kennel cough is spreading so rapidly because people are being more social with their dogs now that we're having such gorgeous weather. The dog virus is comparable to the common cold in people, especially children. The symptom - a constant cough.

Most dogs can clear kennel cough in a few days, but it can be worrisome in older dogs, especially those with immune problems because it can develop into bacterial pneumonia, evident with other noticeable symptoms.

"Certainly, if your dog has a cough that is accompanied with loss of appetite, they seem very sluggish, lethargic, they're not their usual active self, or they have any nasal discharge that goes along with the cough, you definitely want to get them in to see the vet sooner rather than later," said Rosemont Veterinarian Dr. Kate O'Dwyer.

Vets say to inform the clinic before entering with a coughing dog to help prevent the spread. While kennel cough has no vaccine, Dr. O'Dwyer highly recommends owners make sure their dogs have the Bordetella vaccination every year or twice a year for social dogs.

"The Bordetella vaccination is for the secondary bacterial infection that we can see and so we can vaccinate for that to try to limit the prevalence of that," said Dr. O'Dwyer. "Make sure your dog has the Bordetella vaccination before they're boarded."

Veterinarians recommend asking the facility if they currently have dogs there with kennel cough and if they have the capability to isolate any dogs that develop a cough while they're boarded to help prevent the spread. Kennel cough is contagious, however, before the dog actually develops a cough.