Avoid dog parks. Cases of kennel cough are increasing in South Florida

Dogs play inside the Margaret Pace Park dog park in Miami in February 2021. Miami-Dade County Animal Services is asking pet owners to avoid dog parks to stem the spread of a disease that is increasing in South Florida.

Dogs play inside the Margaret Pace Park dog park in Miami in February 2021. Miami-Dade County Animal Services is asking pet owners to avoid dog parks to stem the spread of a disease that is increasing in South Florida.

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Dog owners beware: A highly contagious disease is making our furry friends sick in South Florida — and Miami-Dade County Animal Services recommends that you avoid taking Fido to the park in an attempt to slow the spread.

Miami-Dade County Animal Services has also temporarily suspended some of its services, including neutering dogs to “avoid unnecessary exposure to the virus.”

Known as Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex, or CIRDC, the disease causes acute or chronic inflammation of the upper respiratory system. Sometimes called “kennel cough” or “canine cough,” dogs can contract the disease through direct contact with an infected dog.

It can also be spread “through the air and hands”, making it “like routine in an animal shelter because the cold is in a daycare,” according to the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. Most cases are mild, although some dogs can become seriously ill.

And recently, there have been “an abundance of cases” reported by veterinarians and animal rescue facilities in Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Pinellas counties, according to Miami-Dade County Animal Services. The exact number of kennel cough cases remains uncertain.

Those numbers include the county animal shelter in Doral, where a “small population” of dogs showed signs of illness, according to Miami-Dade County Animal Services. The dogs were treated by veterinarians and have since been moved to an offsite facility to recover.

However, due to the increasing number of cases in the area, Miami-Dade County Animal Services has decided to temporarily suspend its neutering, vaccination and microchipping operations for dogs at its wellness clinic. . It also no longer accepts dogs from owners who are unwilling or unable to care for them and only accepts injured, sick and aggressive strays. Additionally, off-site pet adoption events are temporarily suspended.

The County Animal Service issued a Twitter post this week urging dog owners “to help protect their pets from the spread of the virus by visiting their veterinarian, keeping their dogs up to date with routine vaccinations and avoiding environments with multiple dogs”. This includes dog parks, dog daycares, dog events, shelters, boarding houses and groomers.

Some ways to reduce the risk of catching the disease from your dog include avoiding direct and indirect contact with other dogs and making sure your dog avoids extremes of temperature, humidity, stressful/scary situations. and poorly ventilated areas, Miami-Dade County Animal Services said. .

Here’s what else you need to know:

CIRDC Symptoms

Symptoms include coughing and runny nose (with or without blood), watery eyes, retching and lack of appetite, according to Miami-Dade County Animal Services. Some dogs may be asymptomatic.

What are the risks ?

CIRDC is rarely fatal, according to the UF Veterinary College.

In most dogs, symptoms are mild and resolve within 7-10 days. Although rare, some dogs may become seriously ill and “require advanced care in a critical care facility that can provide oxygen support,” Miami-Dade County Animal Services said. Puppies and dogs with underlying health conditions, for example, who become seriously ill could develop fatal bronchopneumonia.

“Morbidity threats” include fever, runny nose, depression, anorexia and difficulty breathing, according to Miami-Dade County Animal Services.

As for the infected dogs at the county animal shelter, veterinarians “were able to respond quickly before these cases escalated,” Miami-Dade County Animal Services said.

Can humans or other pets get it?

No. “CIRDC is only transmissible to dogs and will not affect people or other pets in our community,” Miami-Dade County Animal Services said.

What causes CIRDC?

CIRDC is considered “complex” because it can be caused by many different pathogens, and the risk of infection also differs depending on a variety of factors, including the dog’s age, according to the UF Veterinary College.

What if my dog ​​is sick?

If you think your dog is sick, keep him home and call your veterinarian.

This story was originally published March 24, 2022 7:16 p.m.

There’s never a dull moment in Florida – and Michelle covers it as a Realtime/Breaking News reporter for the Miami Herald. She graduated with honors from Florida International University, where she served as editor of Student Media PantherNOW. Previously, she worked as a news editor at WSVN Channel 7 and was a 2020-2021 Poynter-Koch Media & Journalism Fellow.

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