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BC SPCA probing aggressive form of kennel cough in Kamloops area

Dogs already vaccinated against kennel cough are being impacted, leading the agency to believe the cause could be a virus that isn’t detected by commercially available tests.

An unusual strain of kennel cough that is impacting dogs already vaccinated has the BC SPCA searching for its cause.

Dr, Emilia Gordon, senior manager of animal health for the BC SPCA, said cases were first noted in its facilities in July, with similar cases noted in the community, particularly in the Kamloops region.

“Any dogs in our care who were showing symptoms were immediately isolated, but as we began testing for known viruses and bacteria, the tests kept coming back negative,” Gordon said.

“After consulting with specialists, we believe the cause could be a virus that isn’t detected by commercially available tests.” Gordon said the BC SPCA is raising awareness with veterinarians and the public to help prevent the spread of the disease. “Because the causative agent is unknown, we want to make sure that people are vigilant in isolating their dogs immediately if they start coughing,” she said.

In addition to coughing, a small percentage of the infected dogs had eye or nasal discharge. 

“None of the dogs have become seriously ill and all are recovering, but the concerning aspect of these cases is how aggressively the disease has spread between dogs, even if they weren’t in close contact,” Gordon said.

“Most affected dogs were vaccinated, so while we still recommend the vaccine to reduce illness, it appears that we may be dealing with a virus that is not part of the current vaccine.” 

People whose dogs begin coughing are advised to isolate their pet immediately and to seek veterinary advice.

In the meantime, Gordon said, the BC SPCA has collected samples as part of the outbreak investigation and is teaming up with specialists and diagnostic laboratories to determine the cause of the outbreak.