Vets report canine disease outbreak

Photo courtesy of Andy Pfeiffer

Veterinarians have found evidence of a kennel cough outbreak in Cordova. The respiratory disease can cause dogs to exhibit a dry, hacking cough.

While veterinarian Dr. Ken Hill has encountered only eight infected dogs in Cordova, a steep rise in reported cases indicates that more dogs may be infected, he said. Owners can easily overlook the significance of a dog coughing and not realize that their pet may be infected, he said.

While kennel cough has led to some dog fatalities elsewhere in Alaska, the disease is not usually life-threatening, Hill said. Some evidence indicates that kennel cough is more dangerous for young or old dogs, or for dogs with preexisting infirmities. 

Owners of coughing dogs should not bring them to Waterways Veterinary Clinic unannounced, Hill said, as it’s possible for kennel cough to linger in a clinical setting, as its name suggests.  Hill usually examines possibly infected animals outside of the clinic building to prevent this.  Instead, owners of pets that may have kennel cough should first contact the clinic at 907-772-3191.

“Try to curtail having lots of contact with other dogs,” Hill said. “Even if they’re not symptomatic, they can still pass bacteria or other components of the disease.”

During periods when Dr. Hill is out of Cordova, Veterinary Assistant Laurel Troudt will still be available to administer vaccines effective against kennel cough at the clinic. It’s important that animals without symptoms be vaccinated to limit the spread of the outbreak, Hill said.