Debunking Myths in Pet Care: “Kennel Cough”

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Post by Dick Palazzo, President, Purr’n Pooch Pet Resorts 
Family Owned & Operated Since 1970

There is perhaps no more misunderstood canine disease than what is commonly referred to as “kennel cough” or canine cough. In medical terms, it’s a contagious respiratory disease among dogs, typified by inflammation of the trachea and bronchi. Canine cough, when put in simple terms, is the dog equivalent to the human cold.

It is spread by any one of three infectious agents (parainfluenza, adenovirus or Bordetella). Because of the continued use of the name “kennel cough”, it is widely misunderstood as something dogs inherently catch in a kennel or pet boarding facility. In fact, many veterinarians and WebMD continue to call the virus “kennel cough” often leading anxious pet owners down the wrong path when trying to understand where their dog may have contracted the virus.

I challenge all of us in the pet care industry and veterinary medicine to use the medical term Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (CIRD), instead of  “kennel cough” because it’s important that dog owners and the public in general be educated on the respiratory disease and its origins.

Canine cough is also an accurate name for CIRD because it describes the syndrome of coughing dogs but does not imply that the disease is caused by a pet care facility. By labeling canine cough “kennel cough”, employees in our industry are constantly working to educate others on the disease. It’s an ongoing issue we face and is very similar to those that were once faced by childcare facilities. Schools and daycares have been successful in educating parents on how illness spreads and today you’ll find hand sanitizer everywhere from the playground to the doctor’s office. But for us, the professionals in the pet care industry, the label “kennel cough” continues to mislead pet owners on the origins of the virus.

What are the symptoms of Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (CIRD)?

CIRD can show up as a dry, hacking cough and is followed by a ratching or gagging sound. An infected dog may also exhibit a runny nose and sneezing. This disease prognosis without treatment can develop into a fever and breathing problems. For these reasons, early detection on the part of the owner or anyone caring for the pet is important. In general, the incubation period for CIRD is anywhere from 3-10 days and there are millions of strands of the virus.

Why did Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease come to be called “kennel cough”?

While attending pre-veterinary school in the 1970s, I remember reading in medical textbooks that the discovery of kennel cough could be traced back to a time when laboratories, kennels and breeding facilities were boarding dogs in common areas. This started it all and today people are still associating the “kennel cough” with kennels and pet boarding facilities simply because of the name.

How is CIRD contracted?

Typically CIRD is spread from dog to dog in secretion of the eyes, nose, or mouth and by direct contact from infected dog to healthy dog. Sneezing or coughing releases tiny aerosolized droplets carrying the virus to over 20 feet in any direction and spreading ITB to healthy dogs. Viruses can also be carried on hands, clothing, shoes, pet supplies and equipment. It’s crucial to have a healthy facility that creates happy, healthy pets and pet daycare and boarding facilities are leading the pack in taking the precautions necessary to stop the spread of a virus like CIRD.

Much of the literature on “kennel cough” says it has to do with the quality of ventilation when large amount of pets are housed together. Although that is true, the main reason is socialization. Many people take their pets out of the house and bring them to public places such as dog parks, restaurants, hospitals and pet stores. Basically, we live in a more dog-friendly world (thankfully) and our pets socialize more with one another, and thus are more likely to contract the virus.

Most of the time, healthy dogs will pick up the infection through scent because this is the way dogs communicate. You’ll notice the first thing a dog will do when out is drop its head to the ground and sniff around. Dogs can also catch CIRD through the air, as it is an airborne infection. Fortunately, with proper ventilation and by taking precautions like having your dog vaccinated you can lessen your pet’s chances of contracting CIRD. It is also important that when visiting your veterinary office, you inquire about the precautions they take to safeguard your pet’s health while in the waiting room and throughout the building in general.

What precautions are taken at Purr’n Pooch to maintain healthy pets?

At Purr’n Pooch Pet Resorts, the same mechanical contractors that designed and installed Jersey Shore Medical Center’s ventilation system also recently designed our units. It’s rare to find a facility with this ventilation system because many buildings are just not designed for it. Everything we do at Purr’n Pooch is for the comfort and care of our pets and their health and safety from the air systems to our hygienic cleaning.

It is possible that no one will ever get to the bottom of discovering exactly how and where our pets contract this infection. Many of us with children can also relate as we prepare for cold and flu season! Your children will spend more time with friends and classmates socializing indoors and on the playground and sports fields. A cold is inevitable and unfortunately so are those visits to the doctor’s office and many do not have state-of-the-art ventilation systems.

I’ve been working with dogs and cats for more than 45 years and it saddens me to hear the term kennel cough used more often than CIRD or canine cough. My hope is that this will change because as soon as pets are treated and the infection is labeled “kennel cough,” it’s sometimes directed back to the dog’s favorite home away from home – the boarding facility, daycare and grooming salon/spa.

My advice for pet owners is to educate yourself and if you believe your pet has CIRD, please visit your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Please note that all the information provided on the Purr’n Pooch Pet Resorts blog is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Please contact your veterinarian for an evaluation before diagnosing or treating your dog.

 

Get Running for Your Health and Animal Charity This Fall Season

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Paws down dog owners are more likely to engage in physical activity and stay fit and healthy just by walking or running with their best friends a minimum of 2-3 times a day.

Bringing a dog into your home could also have a host of health benefits from helping to lower blood pressure to beating depression. According to a recent health report from the American Heart Association, owning a dog has also been shown to reduce a person’s risk of a heart attack.

So why not consider bringing home a new friend to help you lead a happier and healthier life?

There are dozens of animal rescue organizations across the country ready to help you find and adopt your best friend and workout buddy.

Before starting any physical fitness routine, visit your veterinarian to make sure that your new up or old friend is up to meeting the physical demands of a high impact walk or run. Once you get the green light from your vet, start an exercise routine with easy strolls and build up to a comfortable, quicker pace that gets both you and your best friend’s hearts pumping. Even a dog that has been with a family for years, but has not been very active will need to be checked out by his vet before burning those calories.

The fun of having a dog as your workout buddy doesn’t stop with its health benefits either. There are plenty of social perks like making time to enjoy the great outdoors and discovering new friends.

Many love matches have also been made when our pets have pulled cupid’s arrow and shot right on target! Purr’n Pooch’s Betsy Palazzo and her husband Chris Dudick met thanks to their shared love of animals, while working together on “Tails” of Love, a joint project of the Purr’n Pooch Foundation for Animals and Dudick’s children’s production company of Small Factory.

Register for the Purr’n Pooch 5K Canine Run Walk Classic 

You can combine your love of staying in shape with your pet by registering for pet-friendly events across the NY/NJ region. These events provide fun venues for getting out with your pup and often raise funds for less fortunate animals and the charities that care for them.

On Sunday, October 6 we invite you and your pup to walk, run and heel for animals at the Purr’n Pooch Foundation’s annual 5K Canine Run Walk Classic at the beautiful oceanfront location of Pier Village in Long Branch, N.J.  The race starts at 8 a.m. and all are welcome to attend. Dogs are required to run or walk on leash.  Pre-register online. Race shirts will be given to all two-legged participants. Cost is $25 per adult and dogs walk or run free. Race is rain or shine.

“We’re looking forward to Purr’n Pooch’s Second Annual 5K Canine Run Walk Classic. It’s a great day seaside at the dog-friendly Pier Village where people and their pups get a running start to benefit animal charities from across NJ and NY,” said Elizabeth Palazzo Dudick, President, Purr’n Pooch Foundation for Animals. “Getting out to enjoy time with our pups and friends on what we hope will be a beautiful fall morning, is one small step we can take to help unsung heroes who take huge strides daily to help animals in need of love and rescue.”

The Purr’n Pooch Foundation for Animals awards annual grants to non-profit, no-kill animal welfare organizations to be used for day-to-day operations, emergency relief, spay/neuter efforts, veterinary care, equipment, construction, vehicle purchases, educational programs and special projects. We are able to help support the efforts of the charitable organizations by holding fundraisers such as the race.

In 2013 the Foundation awarded grants to organizations including Operation Kindness, Marine Mammal Stranding Center, Ramapo-Bergen Animal Rescue, Monmouth County SPCA, ReRun Horse Rescue, Mid-Atlantic Bull Dog Rescue and New Life Boxer Rescue.

If you and your four-legged companion aren’t ready to hit the competitive world of racing just yet, you can still join us and have a great time cheering on the participants. You might also get inspired to start hitting the pavement with your pet and begin training for next year’s race!

For other pet-friendly races in the area and nationwide visit www.dogtreader.com and www.runnersworld.com.

Smart Feeding Choices are Key to Healthy & Happy Pets

At Purr’n Pooch Pet Resorts we believe that smart feeding choices are key to raising healthy and happy cats and pups. Poor quality and over processed foods can cause a host of issues for your pet, including skin allergies, digestive problems and chronic ear infections. We are pleased to announce that Purr’n Pooch now carries affordable quality food lines for your pet. We also welcome your special order requests.

What to look for in quality pet food:

  • Clearly named protein sources
  • Concentrated meat proteins such as chicken meal or turkey meal
  • Whole grains
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Named fats from quality sources such as chicken fat or sunflower oil
  • Natural preservatives such as mixed tocopherols or vitamins C or E

What  to avoid in pet food:

  • Non specific ingredients such as animal by-products, meat and bone meal
  • Protein fillers such as corn and wheat gluten and egg product meal
  • Unnecessary carbs – refined flours, wheat and mill runs
  • Processed fruits and veggies – tomato pomace and dehydrated potatoes
  • Fats from non-specific sources such as poultry  and animal fat and vegetable oil
  • Artificial preservatives – BHA and BHT

Purr’n Pooch is proud to feature a range of all natural foods, treats and supplements that provide your pet with the essentials for a healthy life.  We currently carry the following food and treat lines:

  • Blue Buffalo  features real chicken, fish or lamb as the first ingredient.
  • Jodes Happy Tail  healthy homemade dog treats prepared with the freshest organic and all natural ingredients.
  • Sojos a wholesome grain-free dog food that you simply mix with water to create your own fresh homemade dog food. Made with USDA freeze dried raw turkey and all natural ingredients.
  • Stella & Chewys  100% complete and balanced nutrition. Raw, naturally raised meat, fish and chicken sourced from USDA inspected facilities. No grains or fillers.
  • Taste of the Wild  a grain-free formula with sweet potatoes and peas provide a highly digestible energy for your active dog.
  • Whole Life Pet Products single ingredient pure protein pet treats.

If you have any questions or would like to place an order for pickup, contact Helen Shields, Purr’n Pooch’s Retail Manager, at 732-842-4949 or retail@purrnpooch.com.