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This is going to be my realest post yet.  What I mean by that is I’m going to pull back the curtain on the world of dog boarding and level with you about a term you hear a lot, but probably know very little about–‘Kennel Cough’.  I’m going to tell you what it is, how it’s transmitted, treated, what we do at The Club to fight it, and what we have no control over.  Strap in ya’ll, because I’m about to start dropping truth bombs.

I’m going to start with the name: ‘Kennel Cough’.  This is a totally made up term that people like to use because it rolls off the tongue a little easier than ‘tracheobronchitis’ and ‘Bordetella bronchiseptica’.  Even my spell check thinks these are made up words.  Kennel cough is actually a lot of different types of bacterial and viral infections that affect the upper respiratory system in dogs, but it’s just easier to lump them together into one phrase.  Another reason for the name is where it tends to spread around– you guessed it, kennels.  (Side note:  The Pet Station Country Club is the furthest thing from a dog kennel.  This is a luxury Country Club where our members aren’t just like our family, they are our family.)

Truth Bomb #1- The cleanest facility in the world can still get a kennel cough outbreak.

Here is how it happens:  Fido goes to the local dog park on Tuesday evening to run around.  He touches noses with 9 other dogs, one of which named Rover is harboring an upper respiratory bacterial infection.  Rover hasn’t started showing any signs that he’s sick yet.  Now Fido has it.

That Friday, Fido goes to his doggie daycare facility and touches noses with 18 other dogs.  Fido shows no signs, but on Sunday he starts a cough and subsequently hacks up phlegm.  A week or so later, all the dogs at daycare start showing signs along with the other dogs at the dog park that came into contact with Rover.  At this point, a bunch of these dogs go to the vet.  The vet examines the dog and asks if they’ve been around other dogs recently.  “Yes”, the owner responds, “he goes to doggie daycare”.  Without much more thought the vet diagnoses kennel cough, often times prescribing an antibiotic to protect against secondary infection, a cough suppressant, and a $100 invoice.

Now, the owner is upset, lighter in the wallet, and looking to lay blame.  They turn their fury on the easiest target: the daycare.  They quickly rush to Google and Facebook to hand out one star reviews about how their precious fur-baby got sick, and therefore the place has to be dirty and the employees must not clean.  The daycare center could have been sterile at the beginning of the day, but then along came a happy dog with no symptoms who just spread sickness around like cake at a birthday party.

Does this scenario sound familiar?  If you have or have had kids, then probably yes.  This is exactly how infections and viruses spread around in children.  Why don’t they call it “Elementary Cough”?  Why don’t the parents blame the school for being dirty and unclean?  Because people understand that kids sneeze into their hands and then high-five their buddy.  Dogs are no different.

Truth Bomb #2- Vaccinations don’t always work and only cover a couple of types of infection.

Most places where dogs gather, The Country Club included, require an up-to-date vaccination for Bordetella (one type of kennel cough).  Overlooking the fact that it takes weeks after the vaccine is given for your dog to build up a true immunity to the disease, it doesn’t cover all the other bad stuff out there.  There are no vaccinations for many types of kennel cough.  And to add to the issues, the nasty little organisms can mutate and still infect our dogs that are vaccinated.

You’re probably thinking, “why require it at all”?  Bordetella is the most common form of cough seen in dogs, and the vaccine does a good job not only protecting them; it also helps lessen the blow if they do contract something.  Most dogs recover on their own in 7-10 days without a trip to the vet.   Has your mind exploded yet?

Truth Bomb #3- The Country Club is a lean, mean, germ-killing machine!

And I don’t say that just because I work here. Find another place that takes all these measures to ensure our members’ health and well being.  We disinfect every room, every hallway, every floor, every door every day.  We use a state-of-the-art cleaning system that prevents cross-contamination called Kaivac.  We even use a disinfectant in our washing machine.  All of our play yards and potty yards are totally disinfected twice a day.

Everything gets disinfected even the air.  Our sophisticated HVAC system has UV lights installed in the returns and as particles pass through the system, all the nasties get zapped with ultraviolet light.  Our system also allows for fresh air to be brought in 100% of the time.  We have rooms that have their own ventilation system so if a dog is sick, we can prevent the airborne pathogens from infecting the rest of our members.  Our employees even disinfect their clothes and extremities after dealing with a potentially contagious dog.

We also know that stress can lead to a weaker immune system.  That’s why we installed hundreds of sound dampening panels all over the facility to reduce noise.  To help dogs relax, we play music throughout the facility and use aromatherapy spray.  Though trial and error I learned that dogs prefer piano music over string, rock, and reggae.

If you made it this far, you can now understand why things like ‘Kennel Cough’ are so tough to keep out.  All of our procedures keep the spreading to a minimum.  Often an infected dog comes in before showing signs and then starts coughing a couple days into his/her stay.  It’s easy to blame the facility, even though it’s very possible that your dog is the one the brought it.  Here at The Country Club, all the alleged cases have been isolated to single dogs (no outbreaks).  Some things are simply out of our control, but rest assured we work tirelessly everyday to make this place so clean you can eat off the floor.  Stay tuned to our Facebook page to watch me do just that.