Every day, the adoptable dogs' living areas are scrubbed to keep germs at bay, but the battle against kennel cough still is hard to fight, said Cindy Brautigan, Marshall County Animal Shelter director.
''We clean every stall every day and we still can't keep it at bay. We disinfect them with a parvocide. It's very expensive - $800 for a 55-gallon drum,'' Brautigan said.
Kennel cough, she noted, typically is not fatal but can develop into pneumonia. It is a nuisance because it spreads so quickly. And in shelter and kennel situations, the usual culprit is visitors touching each dog, which often helps spread the illness, Brautigan said.
Photo by Shelley Hanson
Signs warn visitors not to touch dogs that have been sick at the Marshall County Animal Shelter.
The best way to avoid spreading the condition is to heed warning signs at shelters, such as those that say, ''Do not touch, I've been sick.'' Such animals are being isolated for a reason. Though at the Marshall shelter each animal receives a preventive vaccine shot, it does not typically start working until five days after it is given. This leaves dogs open to catching kennel cough.
Brautigan said the infection will run its course, though antibiotics are usually prescribed along with a cough suppressant.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, kennel cough is a general description of both viral and bacterial infections that can impact a dog's windpipe and voicebox. The coughing is described as persistent and dry, sounding like a honking noise. Sometimes a dog will also have a fever, runny nose and watery discharge from their eyes. It can be spread through the air, by a dog having direct contact with an infected dog or by sharing an infected dog's water dish. Infected dogs should be isolated from other pets during recovery.