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Veterinarian warns of kennel cough outbreak in Flathead Valley

Posted at 8:43 PM, Jan 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-04 13:52:51-05

KALISPELL — Canine Infectious Respiratory disease complex, commonly known as Kennel Cough, has been diagnosed in dozens of dogs this week in the Flathead Valley.

Animal Clinic of Kalispell Veterinarian Dr. Jevon Clarke, said viruses and bacterial infections combine together to cause the disease.

He says typical symptoms include hacking, gagging and coughing with the disease sticking with the animal for up to two weeks.

“Extremely contagious, thankfully it’s also relatively benign most of the time, it’s one of those diseases we vaccinate against but the vaccine doesn’t actually prevent the disease it just decreases clinical signs if they happen to come down with it,” said Dr. Clarke. “The reason it’s called kennel cough is because dogs that are in high density populations is where they get exposed.”

If left untreated, Dr. Clarke said the disease can lead to serious complications including pneumonia.

“One dog in particular did develop pneumonia after some upper respiratory disease … even though it’s generally pretty straight forward, we do have to keep checking on it...that’s what we’re trying to prevent,” Dr. Clarke told MTN News.

Executive Director Lori Heatherington said all dogs have proper vaccinations and take extra precautions to limit the chance of Kennel cough.

“We know that we’re more of a high-risk environment and we certainly want to make sure that we’re putting healthy animals out into the community,” said Heatherington.

Dr. Clarke said the Flathead Valley usually averages two outbreaks of Kennel Cough a year, one in the fall and one in the spring, making this January outbreak a rare occurrence.

“About two times a year we get an outbreak … it’s a little bit early for normal for us right now in January, but we had an outbreak in the fall and we usually get one in the spring, so maybe this is just a bonus one," he told MTN News.

Dr. Clarke said to contact your local veterinarian immediately if your dog is showing signs of kennel cough.