Kennel cough is on the rise in Montana - | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Kennel cough is on the rise in Montana

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Veterinarian offices in Montana have some troubling news for dog owners. According to veterinarians in the Gallatin Valley, kennel cough is being reported at an all time high. 

"We have had a lot of patients get very sick," said Vet Loni Odenbeck, 360 Pets Clinic.

Odenbeck says for the last couple of months they have been very busy with pets dealing with the new strain of kennel cough.

"We’ve seen at least 75 cases just in our clinic, so whatever it is it's highly contagious,” said Odenbeck. “We haven't isolated the exact reason that is causing this."

Even if your dog is vaccinated, that may not be enough.

"A lot of our patients that have picked up this infection, even though they have the vaccine Bordetella,” said Odenbeck. “There are a lot of organisms that can cause kennel cough. Kennel cough is just a general term for an upper respiratory infection."

Unfortunately, Paula Diaz knows this all too well.

"If I would've known that there was a kennel cough outbreak combined with the fact that the vaccine isn’t very active, then maybe I would've made different decisions," said Diaz.

She says her dog Lucy had kennel cough symptoms last week and then 24 hours later after going to the vet Lucy passed away.

"She went to sleep and started gasping for air,” said Paula Diaz. “She couldn't make it through so it was devastating. We thought she was doing better, so we didn't really expect that to happen so suddenly.“

After Lucy was tested for the cause of death, the vets say it was a serious case of pneumonia and that it’s likely it could be connected to the kennel cough. 

That is why vets like Odenbeck are advising clients to check for signs.

"The big thing when I warn people is if your pets are showing any signs of not eating, coughing, low on energy is low or anything changes other than a subtle cough to get them checked out right away," said Odenbeck.

The 360 Pets clinic says dogs "catch" kennel cough when they inhale bacteria or virus particles into their respiratory tract. This tract is normally lined with a coating of mucus that traps infectious particles, but there are a number of factors that can weaken this protection and make dogs prone to kennel cough infection, which results in inflammation of the larynx and trachea.

Owners and Montanans need to be careful because even humans can spread the infection.

“People can also carry the infection on themselves,” said Odenbeck.  “If you're around a kennel cough dog and touch the dog with your hands and then go to touch someone else's dog you can get the last dog you touched sick.”

Another problem is the infection is spreading to neighboring yards.

“The droplets when dogs cough it sprays from like 20 feet to even across fence lines,” said Odenbeck. “We have it going from one neighbor to the next.”

Odenbeck says if you think your dog has kennel cough call your vet and do not have them around any other dogs.

“The best way for you to keep your pet from getting this kennel cough is to limit your dog's contact with other dogs, avoid dog parks and keep an eye out for dogs coughing in your neighborhood," said Odenbeck. 

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