Maraboon Veterinary Surgery is raising awareness of a viral outbreak causing contagious cough in dogs in the Central Highlands. Photo: iStock
Maraboon Veterinary Surgery is raising awareness of a viral outbreak causing contagious cough in dogs in the Central Highlands. Photo: iStock

Contagious virus outbreak spreads in dogs across CQ

A CONTAGIOUS canine cough is spreading across the region, with many dogs showing symptoms of the viral outbreak.

Maraboon Vet Surgery owner Angela Sutherland said while it wasn’t a fatal virus, it could be an uncomfortable experience for dogs who contracted it.

“We recognised the first cases in late October, and are continuing to see a large number of cases in the Central Highlands region,” she said.

“This outbreak is also being experienced at other kennels and regions throughout different parts of Australia.”

Mrs Sutherland said canine cough, also known as infectious tracheobronchitis, was one of the most common respiratory diseases in dogs.

It is an airborne virus and can travel large distances, making it highly contagious and difficult to control.

The most common symptom is a harsh sounding cough, often finishing with gagging, often occurring about 10 days after exposure from another susceptible or affected dog.

Usually, the severity diminishes during the first five days, although the cough may persist for 10-20 days.

“As this is very similar to the common cold, 95 per cent of cases we see do not need any treatment and the dogs recover within 3-10 days,” Mrs Sutherland said.

“Some dogs will cough and bring up a small amount of white foam, but if they are otherwise happy, eating and drinking normally, there is little concern.”

If you suspect your dog is affected, it is recommended your dog be kept as quiet as possible, as undue stress or excitement can cause symptoms to become worse.

Urgent treatment is required if signs of lethargy, loss of appetite, or greenish nasal discharge occurs and the cough persists.

“If these symptoms appear, organise a time to see your vet as soon as possible,” Mrs Sutherland said.

While many cases have occurred after staying at the kennel, she said dogs could become infected in any social situations, including in parks, dog runs, obedience classes, dog shows or kennels.

“Even if your dog is vaccinated there is still some risk of infection,” Mrs Sutherland said.

“Unfortunately it is not just kennelling your dog that can put your pet at risk.”

Owners are encouraged to take measures to avoid dogs socialising with other dogs to minimise the chances of being infected.

“Unfortunately using boarding kennels presents a high risk of catching this virus due to the fact that most dogs do not show any symptoms while being boarded,” Mrs Sutherland said.

“This makes it very difficult to determine which dogs are contagious.

“As we have learned in 2020, viruses can be unpredictable and difficult to control even with dramatic measures.

“If you must board your pet during this busy season, please do not bring them to the resort if they are unwell.

“Similar to child care centres, you will be asked to pick up your pet if it is showing any signs of being unwell for the benefit of the other guests.”

Of all dogs exhibiting the current canine cough virus, Mrs Sutherland said they all returned negative results for all known infectious causes of Canine Cough.

“To do our part in developing future preventions, we have passed this information onto universities, vaccine companies, a pathologist, and a virologist.

“We are working through the next steps with the above experts if the coughing continues in our community for an extended period of time.”

Mrs Sutherland wanted to assure the community that Maraboon Pet Resort and veterinary clinic was working with experts to gain as much information as possible and was taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of all animals.

“The Maraboon Pet Resort is always extremely diligent in ensuring all pets are fully vaccinated on arrival, no unwell pets are allowed to board at our facility, and increased cleaning and disinfecting protocols are in place,” she said.