here has been a substantial increase in the number of dogs presenting with a dry, hacking cough in the Bitterroot Valley. Most are current on their bordatella vaccinations. Consequently, dogs are at risk even though they are current on their vaccinations. The dogs are, obviously, contagious prior to being symptomatic as well.

Is it Kennel Cough?

If this current bug is a form of kennel cough, it is a strain not included in the latest bordatella vaccination. Bordatella vaccinations, similar to human flu vaccines, are dependent on inclusion of the strain currently in the environment to be effective. The Bordatella vaccine also contains Parainfluenza, which is what several of the local veterinarians believe is causing the current infections.

Infected dogs can have the virus for a week to 20 days before symptoms appear. The infection being a virus versus a bacterial infection is virtually impossible to kill. The best an owner can do is provide supportive care. Antibiotics are frequently prescribed, though their efficacy is questionable. Cough suppression medication is the most effective thing you can give to your dog. Your veterinarian can prescribe a cough medication or give you the proper dosage amount for an over the counter, human cough medication. The infected dogs we have seen are not running a fever. If your dog does run a fever, consult your veterinarian for proper treatment.


You’ll know if your dog becomes infected. They will start coughing as though there is a foreign object in their throat they are trying to expel. The cough is extremely violent from the start. The dogs we have seen do not have a fever or any additional symptoms. Their energy level as well as their appetite appears unaffected and they seem perfectly healthy other than the horrible cough they present. The cough is more prevalent when the dog is up and moving around.


Dogs become infected by inhaling the virus from an infected dog. As stated previously, dogs appear contagious prior to the onset of a cough. Dog parks, veterinary clinics and boarding facilities, like Freckled Paws K9 Hostel are environments where dogs come into close contact with potentially infected dogs. And since the vaccine doesn’t appear to provide any protection the only way to ensure your dog doesn’t become infected is to keep them from having any contact with other dogs.

The Good News

The good news is the cough appears much worse than the actual infection. We have been in close contact with several local veterinarians and have not had any reports of infected dogs failing to heal within a week to two weeks after initial symptoms show up. The infected dog’s lungs remain clear and there doesn’t appear to be any fever associated with the disease.

Be aware if you have reservations with us or any other boarding facility, in the immediate future, your dog is at increased risk of contracting this virus. Even a trip to your veterinarian or a dog park increases the chances of your dog becoming infected. There is nothing we can do to prevent transmission of the virus other than making dog owners aware that it is prevalent in the Bitterroot Valley at this time. We also are not accepting dogs that are actively coughing into our facility.

If you have additional questions, you can contact us or your veterinarian.