Jurassic Vets

Outstanding modern veterinary care in a gentle and loving environment.

01395 493333

Woolbrook Rd Sidmouth

Including 24-7 response for pet emergencies

Kennel Cough – the 'dog cold'

 

Remember how everyone in Sidmouth seemed to catch a cold a few weeks ago? It seems it's the dog's turn now! We saw a big spike in cases of kennel cough in the last two months, with more than a dozen dogs catching this annoying illness. Kennel cough is a virus and comes in waves – often months will go by without any cases, followed by a sudden rush of infection as a new bug enters town.

 

Kennel Cough would be better called a 'dog cold', because most dogs catch it without going to kennels. The symptoms vary from dog to dog, but usually take the form of a dry, throaty cough that is often described as a 'goose honk'. The dog often makes this cough quite a few times in succession, before ending with a gagging wretch – this often leads the dog's owner to suspect that something is stuck in the throat, but this is actually quite rare in dogs, and usually it's just because the dog has such a sore, tickly throat. Sometimes, the dog wretches hard enough to actually vomit, but more commonly they bring up just a small patch of white, frothy saliva. Some dogs may also snort or 'reverse sneeze', which is like a human sniffing with a runny nose.

 

But is kennel cough dangerous? Thankfully, in most healthy dogs the disease is no more serious than a human cold – annoying, but not life-threatening. The dog usually feels more or less the same as it normally does and will continue to eat and drink normally. However, in a few rare cases the disease can cause a bacterial infection to enter the lungs, and these cases can become much more serious. Luckily, these cases are very rare and most dogs will recover from the viral cough within a few days.

 

A vaccine is available for kennel cough, but this only protects against the most serious of at least twelve different viruses that can cause kennel cough, so it won't necessarily prevent a dog from catching a milder form of kennel cough. The vaccine also provides protection against the rare but nasty bacterial infection that can make cases worse.

 

If you think your dog might be showing these signs, give us a call. Usually, we'll recommend examining your dog outside the practice or in a spare consulting room to avoid spreading the virus to other patients, and the nursing team will 'blitz' the room afterwards to disinfect it. Like the human cold, kennel cough is a virus, so antibiotics have no effect on it. It's very contagious to other dogs and can spread via shared toys, waterbowls or even via a friendly sniff, so infected dogs should be kept away from others for two weeks. We will often prescribe a short course of anti-inflammatory medicines to reduce the soreness and swelling in the throat.

 

- Peter

 

 

December 2016 - 'Twas the month before Christmas...

One recent evening, as the nights drew in and the trees grew bare against the overcast sky, one of our patients, Twiggy the terrier, sat keeping a careful watch for titbits as her owner worked in the kitchen. But this was no ordinary cooking exercise – Twiggy had heard the word ‘Christmas cake’, and so her attention was rooted on the yuletide masterpiece taking shape on the kitchen side. Much like a four year-old of the human variety, the prospect of prospect of tinsel, parcels and visitors galore made Twiggy giddy with excitement.

Christmas background free comercial use small version

That night the cake sat resplendent on the side, awaiting a thick snowfall of icing and a smattering of novelty cake decorations. ‘Twas the month before Christmas, rather than the night, and, while all was indeed quiet in the house since her owners had gone to bed, Twiggy decided that, since Father Christmas would not be coming down the chimney for a few weeks yet, perhaps something else had better come down to floor level instead. With a quick tug on the tablecloth, the cake rapidly made its way earthwards. The thump did not even awaken Twiggy’s owner, leaving her pet to enjoy a seasonal feast with as many extra helpings as she could manage.

The next morning, Twiggy’s owner came down to find something resembling the aftermath of a sultana-filled snowball fight. Twiggy was rushed down to us at Jurassic Vets, with her owner threatening to reduce her Christmas present down to the traditional lump of coal. Thankfully, a careful examination and subsequent monitoring of the now rather-more rotund terrier showed that she seemed to be suffering no harm as a result – fortunate indeed, as raisins and sultanas can be surprisingly toxic to dogs. The moral of the story? Take care when leaving unusual items such as parcels, chocolates and tinsel out this year, and if your pet has eaten something solid or potentially poisonous, call me as soon as you can, day or night.

Happy Christmas to all! – Peter

 

November 2016 - Winter Walkies!

We've had some great pictures of our doggie friends modelling their winter coats on our Facebook page! Here's Gromit the Post Office doggie, eagerly anticipating some Christmas treats!

Gromit OK

Does your dog wear a coat when the weather is cold and wet? Whether they actually need to will depend on their age, size, activity level and coat type. A large, thick-coated labrador who is out for a run on a cold morning will likely generate enough body heat to keep herself warm. On the other hand, an elderly Yorkshire terrier who is going for a slow stroll in to town on a frosty morning might get very chilly, as her smaller body loses heat faster.

Some owners also use coats to prevent their dogs getting soaking wet in heavy rain, which can make drying them off a lot easier, especially if they have a long shaggy coat. When the weather is damp for a while, we sometimes see a spate of dogs with 'wet eczema' – a bacterial overgrowth that can, in some cases, be triggered by a coat staying damp and dirty for too long.

You can even get full-body waterproofs for dogs to avoid them getting covered in mud, but we're not sure all dogs really enjoy wearing these. After all, this is Devon in the winter – and trying to keep your dog clean on walkies is probably a hopeless cause anyway!