FARGO — Cold and flu season is almost here for humans, but for dogs, kennel cough is between peaks.
Though the respiratory disease isn’t specific to one season, veterinarians like Dr. Alicia Wisnewski at Prairie Winds Veterinary Clinic in Fargo said there can be an uptick during some summer months and holidays.
Wisnewski said it can spread in places like boarding facilities and dog parks where there is more contact between dogs — like close playing — and by any respiratory secretions from coughing and sneezing.
Kennels usually get more stays from pets when owners go to the lake or travel for the holidays. Wisnewski said when veterinary clinics slow down at the end of summer they prepare for possible outbreaks around Thanksgiving.
Most boarding facilities require shots for dogs in their care, but in public places like dog parks, it can be almost impossible to tell if a dog's immunizations are up to date.
Regardless, Wisnewski said, the risk is similar in both settings.
"(At) boarding facilities, you just have more pets," she explained. "You're going to up the odds of one of them harboring something. At a dog park, you may or may not have the same number of dogs coming and going, but you don't have anyone monitoring."
Wisnewski said even though kennel cough is generally like what a cold is to humans, some symptoms can mimic other illnesses like heart failure, or even a dog's reaction to foxtail weeds getting caught in its throat.