Tabitha, an 11-year-old American Staffordshire terrier, was coughing like crazy recently.
“We thought she had something stuck in her throat,” said her owner, Darla Knight.
As it turned out, Tabitha has a virus called “kennel cough,” and she contracted it for the second time in three months.
In addition to having Tabitha and her other two dogs treated at a local veterinary hospital, Knight’s goddaughter, Raegan Trull, researched the virus online and then went door to door in Knight’s Woodbridge neighborhood around Rio Verde Street, urging residents to get their dogs vaccinated for kennel cough. She also distributed veterinary brochures about kennel cough to Knight’s neighbors.
Raegan, 11 and a sixth-grader at Leroy Nichols Elementary School in Lodi, searched Wikipedia for kennel cough and found out that the symptoms include coughing, hacking, gagging and vomiting.
“Tabitha did all those things,” Raegan said.
It seems that kennel cough is an airborne illness that dogs spread to each other, Raegan said.
Dr. Jim Jones, who works part time at Harris Veterinary Hospital in Lockeford, treated Tabitha. He said that kennel cough is seasonal — dogs are susceptible to it in the fall and winter.
Meanwhile, Woodbridge veterinarian Dr. Ruth Smith said that she hasn’t seen kennel cough cases at her office.
Dogs most likely to get sick from kennel cough are ones who are friendly with other dogs, taken to grooming salons and dog parks, Jones said.
“It’s pretty contagious,” he said. “I see it a lot in the shelters.”
A special vaccine to combat kennel cough isn’t required, Jones said, but it’s a good idea if the dog goes to dog parks, dog shows or hunts with his or her master.
“Everything depends on lifestyle,” Jones said.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at email@example.com.