We all know pets get sick. Like us they’ll usually start by ignoring their food, possibly even becoming a little lethargic too. For me, the best pet-owners are the ‘early-detectors’ – those of you that know your beloved four-legged friend’s behaviour patterns inside-out and back-to-front, alerting your vet as soon as you spot any changes.
This enables us vets to start treatment right away, and often a simple symptomatic 24-hour jab will stop any early disease process literally dead in its tracks. But some symptoms, like coughs or sneezes can prove harder to treat than others, depending on what’s causing them in the first place?
Animals seem to have more reasons to develop a cough – from common highly contagious infectious causes to the less common (and not for the squeamish) lungworm. Kennel Cough, or if you prefer its posh name ‘Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis’, is common in dogs all-year round, spread through the air by infected canines sneezing and coughing.
Kennel Cough can be a tough one to crack unless you’ve been a good little early-detector. It consists of one bacteria and one virus, but different combinations of these are responsible for the classic harsh, dry hacking cough that owners classically describe as their dog ‘trying to clear something from his throat’.
Preventative vaccination of Kennel Cough is obviously recommended (and now proof is essential for many boarding kennels and dog-shows).
Unlike the annual booster for infectious diseases (including fatal Parvovirus and Leptospirosis), Kennel Cough vaccination is no 100% guarantee of protection due to the bacteria–virus combo being so variable; much like ordering a ‘dark rum and coke’ – you’re never really sure of the brands used; but the up-the-nostrils vaccine-spray will however give your pooch enormous protection from the most common strains, your Havana Club’s and Coca Cola’s if you like.
Small breeds of dog like the Yorkshire Terrier (below) are also prone to their windpipes collapsing! Breathing in forcefully can encourage the opposite sticky mucus-lined walls of their fragile tracheas to stick together resulting in complete temporary airway obstruction, resulting in massive panic-attacks and ‘goose-honking’ coughing fit.
Vaccinated cats also suffer from coughs and sneezes. Cats will be eat whole blades of grass that will actually end-up getting stuck in their nasal cavity just behind their soft palate.
Displaying symptoms of a throat infection, sometimes the only way to cure them is to anaesthetize these poor pussycats, using forceps to pull out the offending foreign body.
Cats can also suffer from asthma which is not only tough to treat, but sadly on the increase after the smoking ban due to more owners choosing to smoke at home.