Flu Season (Canine Cough and Cat Flu)

May 31, 2017 | Pet Advice

Canine cough (dog whooping cough)

Is a highly contagious airborne disease that’s easily passed from dog to dog by moisture droplets. Canine Cough (or Kennel Cough as it was previously known) is primarily caused by two organisms, Bordetella bronchiseptica which causes damage to the lining of the respiratory system, followed by canine parainfluenza virus.

It is a highly contagious disease that usually infects dogs in areas where they socialise, such as parks, obedience classes, dog shows and kennels.

The classical symptom of Canine Cough is a harsh hacking cough that often finishes with gagging. The coughing is usually made worse by exercise, excitement or pressure on the throat region. Severely affected dogs may also have fever, lethargy and reduced appetite. In unvaccinated dogs Coughing may persist for many weeks or months despite treatment, and result in pneumonia.

It is important that dogs of all ages be vaccinated against all the causative organisms of Canine Cough. Vaccinated dogs may still develop a mild cough but generally get over it without treatment within 7-10 days.

DID YOU KNOW – Bordetella Bronchiseptica, is related to Bordetella pertussis which causes Whooping Cough in people. Thankfully people cannot contract the canine version, and dogs cannot get the human version.

Cat flu (Feline Respiratory Disease)

Is also highly contagious and can cause severe illness, especially in elderly cats or kittens. Vaccination is highly effective and while it won’t always prevent cats from developing flu, it helps reduce the severity of the condition. Flu vaccinations are given annually and are an important way to help keep your cat stay happy and healthy.

Feline respiratory disease (Cat Flu) can be caused by a number of organisms, however most cases are due to Feline Rhinotracheitis virus (herpes virus) and Feline Calicivirus. These organisms are usually spread when an infected or carrier cat coughs or sneezes. Given that many cats roam outdoors the spread of the disease is very easy, without even having to go to a cattery.

Unlike other disease after infection, cats usually become carriers of the virus for many years (often lifelong). These cats continue to spread the virus to other cats, even after they have recovered from the initial infection themselves. Symptoms may include a:

  • fever,
  • sneezing,
  • coughing,
  • discharge from the nose and eyes,
  • ulcers on the tongue,
  • loss of appetite and
  • lethargy.

These symptoms may persist for 3-4 weeks, however the cat may still act as a carrier for many years after.