Bordetella Alert: Notice to All Clients
The Greater Toronto Area is currently experiencing a significant increase in the amount of infectious canine coughing. The source of this cough has been identified through testing as the bacteria known as Bordetella bronchiseptica. Although this infection used to be called “kennel cough”, it is now technically referred to as “Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease”, largely because it is easily passed to dogs whenever they are in close proximity to one another, regardless if that’s at home, in the park, on a walk or indeed at a daycare or lodging facility like ours.
As most of you likely know, there is a vaccination available against Bordetella and since Parker Pet Care requires this vaccine for our canine visitors, our guests are normally protected from Bordetella infections when staying with us. In the last five years, dogs contracting bordetella at one of our facilities has been an exceptionally rare occurrence, and in these years we have never seen a pattern of infection at one of our facilities; if one dog is coughing at our facility, it doesn’t spread to other dogs because the other dogs are vaccinated.
Unfortunately, the current situation in the Greater Toronto Area is fundamentally different as it appears the Bordetella that is circulating is a completely new strain. The vaccination does not appear to be providing protection, and previous exposure does not appear to be providing immunity either. Because of this apparent new strain, dogs who come in contact with other dogs are at a significantly increased risk of contracting a Bordetella infection, and this is true for dogs visiting Parker Pet Care for daycare, grooming services or overnight lodging.
Fortunately, the current strain appears to be relatively mild. The incubation period appears to be 3-5 days, and the symptoms are limited to infrequent coughing. The overwhelming majority of affected dogs are eating, playing and behaving normally, with occasional coughing, and symptoms are resolving on their own after 3-4 days without medical intervention.
The common human comparison for Bordetella is the common cold. In most cases, people with colds function normally, and symptoms resolve on their own. However, some people who contract a cold may develop more serious symptoms or a secondary infection that does require medical attention. The same is true for dogs: a small number of dogs may develop more severe symptoms and may require antibiotics. If your dog loses his or her appetite, seems lethargic, or has green nasal or eye discharge, a trip to the vet is necessary. Older dogs, dogs with compromised immune systems or other health concerns, or dogs with short faces (bulldogs, pugs, etc.) are more likely to have complications. Your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics or even a cough suppressant. You are the best judge of how your dog is feeling; if you are concerned about your pet in any way, please access your veterinarian. If your dog develops any symptoms of coughing after pickup, please inform us so we can monitor our facility accurately and effectively.
One of our primary missions at Parker Pet Care is to protect your pet’s health and safety and we never want to see an animal become ill during or after a visit with us. We take all reasonable precautions to ensure health and safety for our guests and the emergence of a new airborne infection is largely something we cannot control. As of July 23rd, we are currently taking the step of informing all clients both when making reservations and when picking up their pets of the current situation in Toronto. By providing this information, we hope to assist our clients in making an informed choice of whether to lodge their pets with us, and to ask questions to be clear of any risks. Statements are also posted on our website and on our phone systems.
As dogs continue to become a bigger part of our life and accompany us around the city, and become more social and play in larger groups at home, at the park, and at daycares and facilities such as ours, infectious illnesses and “dog colds” will likely be a growing issue for all dog owners. Just like children who bring colds home from daycare and school, dogs have the same potential to pass and contract viruses and bacteria. Vaccination, education, and vigilance are the best tools in our collective arsenal to keep our pets safe as they play larger roles in our lives.
As a client of Parker Pet Care, you can always rely on us to be honest and transparent when it comes to your pet’s health and safety and to work closely with veterinarians throughout the city to protect our guests’ well being. If you have questions, concerns, comments or any feedback at all, please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call one of our branch managers – Sarah at West Hill (416-284-6318) and Alana at North York (416-241-4697).
Wishing you and your whole family the very best,
Vice President of Operations
Parker Pet Care