A significant increase in kennel cough among dogs at Sequim Dog Park in Carrie Blake Park and across the city brings words of warning from dog owners and veterinarians.
Dr. Susan Ballie with Sequim Animal Hospital said she’s seen nine cases in the past two weeks of the airborne illness. She and others find the common link in dog-to-dog contact at the park.
The highly contagious cough can spread through contaminated objects like water bowls, too.
Ballie said dogs with kennel cough typically cough dryly and deeply ending in a gag and sometimes white phlegm. One vaccination, the Bordetella vaccine, exists to prevent kennel cough.
“I usually don’t treat it with antibiotics unless symptoms worsen or spread into other conditions,” she said.
Sequim Dog Park prohibits non-vaccinated dogs and contagious dogs into the park. Park rules are posted by the main gate and in the large dog park area.
David Hannon, Sequim Dog Park chairman, said he quickly learned of the increase in illnesses and said he posted notices on the park’s Facebook page, e-mailed more than 140 people on its e-mail list and called local veterinarians.
“The only thing in common was that they all played at the dog park,” Hannon said. “We want to try to be proactive and make sure dogs are vaccinated before they go in public and the park.”
Ballie said the biggest sign of the illness is if a dog is coughing but it can take up to 10 days for clinical signs to appear.
“If your dog is coughing, you can take them on a walk, just keep them away from the dog park and other dogs,” she said. “I’ve been telling people to keep them away from the dog park for at least 10 days after clinical signs have gone away.”
Hannon encourages dog owners to check with their pets’ veterinarians about vaccinations.
“We want to keep the dog park safe for furry friends,” he said.
Jeff Edwards, City of Sequim parks manager, said the dog park remains safe to visit.
“It’s like if you take your kids to school when they are sick,” Edwards said. “It’s the same if your dogs are sick ... If you really are an animal lover, then why would you want to give another dog an illness?”
Find more information about the dog park at www.sequimdogparks.org.