PACIFIC COUNTY — An outbreak of kennel cough has been spreading among local dogs, but appears to have peaked in mid-June, according to Oceanside Animal Clinic veterinarian Kelly Spall.

“We have probably treated 30 to 40 dogs with kennel cough in the last month,” Spall said in a July 3 e-mail.

“The term ‘kennel cough’ is used to refer to a complex of upper respiratory pathogens in dogs that cause infectious tracheobronchitis,” Spall said, adding that the bacteria Bordetella bronchisptica is the most common of the dozens of viruses and bacteria that can cause the disease.

Dogs develop “a dry, hacking cough that culminates in a retching noise.” Oceanside Animal Clinic vets often prescribe cough suppressants and antibiotics.

Many cases are “self-limiting,” according to Spall, but the disease can occasionally cause serious symptoms such as fever, lethargy and decreased appetite.

Kennel cough viruses and bacteria can be highly contagious. With a three to 10-day incubation period, a dog can spread the disease before showing any signs of having it.

Spall said she knows of no indication of resistance developing to the Bordetella vaccine. While vaccination cannot prevent all infections, dogs who are vaccinated routinely are less likely to contract the disease, and it is less likely to be as severe and long-lasting if they do come down with it.

Spall added that Portland has recently seen an outbreak of canine influenza, which tends to be more severe than kennel cough, causing lethargy, fever and lack of appetite.

“We do not believe we have seen any dog flu in this area yet, but do have the vaccine available if canine influenza continues to emerge as a problem,” Spall said.

Aaron Mead is a sports writer for the Chinook Observer. Contact him at 360-642-8181 or

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