Respiratory Infections

North Carolina and the Triangle have seen a spike in yucky, respiratory viruses, that affect our canine family members! To help keep your canine family members safe and healthy,

We completed the following:

  • Installed UV lights in our duct work to help kill viruses and bacteria.
  • Clean and disinfect all kennels, bedding, and food bowls twice a day.
  • Our Top Dog Team will be washing their hands frequently.
  • Removed all communal water bowls

We also want to provide current information regarding the Canine Infections and Respiratory Disease that is going around the RDU area. We HIGHLY recommend getting your dog(s) Bordetella, Distemper, and Influenza vaccinations updated to help keep them protected!

Some background on CIRDC (canine infectious respiratory disease complex):

  1. There are 10 different pathogens (germs) that contribute to this disease.
  2. There are vaccines for only 5 of the 10 germs- distemper, bordetella, parainfluenza, adenovirus-2 and influenza (CIV, both strains). To be effective, some of these vaccines need to have been boostered and then allow time for the 2nd vaccine to work. For instance, CIV needs 2 initial shots given approximately 3 weeks apart and then wait for 7 days after the 2nd shot before boarding.
  3. Outbreaks can occur despite having excellent protocols in place for intakes and sanitizing of kennels- this is due to some dogs being asymptomatic shedders. These dogs can have one or more of the CIRDC germs, but don’t cough.
  4. Most cases of CIRDC start with an airborne virus. The virus damages the respiratory tract and allows for secondary bacterial infections which can include pneumonia.

If you notice your canine friend is exhibiting any of the symptoms listed below, please do not bring your pup to Top Dog Training and Resort, as it is contagious. Instead, have your canine family member treated at your local veterinarian’s office. You will NOT be charged cancellation fees by Top Dog if you choose to cancel your day school or boarding reservations. We follow the Department of Agriculture guidelines to keep the spread of viruses down. We installed UV lights in our duct work to help kill viruses and bacteria. We clean and disinfect all kennels, bedding, and food bowls twice a day. Our Top Dog Team will be washing their hands frequently.

If you notice your dog is having symptoms-coughing, sneezing, hacking, vomiting, or diarrhea, please have your pet examined and treated ASAP. The Infection is typically spread through direct contact (dog to dog.) The bacteria/viruses vary in how long they can remain infectious in the environment and on surfaces. This ranges from hours-days

There is another upper respiratory virus going around that you might be more familiar with. We have included helpful information about this as well.
CANINE COUGH- What is it and why does my dog have it?

You hear your dog cough. “That’s unusual,” you think. You head on over to the vet and the vet says, “ kennel cough.” Depending on the vet, they may advise to let it run its course, or they might prescribe antibiotics to ward off any potential complications.

But what is kennel cough? And why do dogs catch “it” even when they’ve received the Bordetella vaccine from the vet?

There is actually no one such “thing” as canine cough. Canine cough is a broad term used to reference a contagious condition where coughing is the major clinical sign.

Properly known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis or canine infectious respiratory disease complex (CIRDC), canine cough can be caused by a variety of viral or bacterial organisms, one being the Bordetella bronchiseptica pathogen. Dogs can commonly get infections with more than one of these organisms at the same time.

The term canine cough was coined to reflect the contagious nature of the virus or bacteria, and that it is most easily spread where many dogs are together.


With it not being a thing, canine cough is not a vaccine-preventable condition.

Just like a flu shot for people, having the Bordetella vaccine will not prevent your dog from potentially catching any variant or strain of kennel cough. As mentioned, there are many tracheobronchitis-causing agents, and the vaccine doesn’t cover them all.

Being vaccinated with the Board of Tele vaccine may reduce symptoms or limit the duration of symptoms but will not prevent a dog from catching canine infectious tracheobronchitis (canine cough).

About the Bordetella / Kennel Cough vaccine

The Bordetella vaccine is a non-sterile, like the flu vaccine, meaning it doesn’t offer complete protection and vaccinated dogs can still catch one of the many viral or bacterial organisms responsible for kennel cough symptoms.

The Bordetella vaccine is also a live vaccine and dogs that received the vaccine can exhibit symptoms of Bordetella in the days following the vaccine and shed the virus for days after receiving it.

The board of Tele vaccine can be administered intranasally, orally, or by injection. The intranasal and oral vaccines are live vaccines, and dogs can shed the virus for more than a week after administration. Therefore, we ask all clients whose dogs receive intranasal or oral administration to wait at least seven days before attending boarding or daycare.

We also ask for this wait. Because your dog’s immunity could dip in the period after they receive a vaccine booster, causing them to be susceptible to viruses or bacteria that otherwise would have no effect on them.

For this reason, we do what we can to minimize the potential spread of the virus and to maximize your dog’s protection by requiring the wait. After the oral or intranasal administration before your dog visits our facility.

Transmission and prevention spreading

Viral and bacterial organisms that cause canine cough are primarily spread through the airborne droplets produced by sneezing, coughing, or barking but can also be transmitted on surfaces.

A dog can be exposed to the many agents that cause canine cough symptoms by walking on the sidewalk, interacting with others at the dog park, visiting the vet, or being anywhere a contagious dog has been.

Some dogs don’t display any symptoms and by the time others do display symptoms, they will already have been contagious, which makes it a very tricky social illness to monitor for and impossible to prevent.

A canine cough will happen. It is a part of living socially and being exposed to new dogs and new places.

Many first-time boarding guests, or guests new to socialization and playgroups, won’t have a very strong natural immune system yet because they haven’t been exposed too much, which makes them more susceptible. Just like teachers’ immune systems seem to be phenomenal, dogs who regularly interact with others will become hardier with stronger immune systems.

What we do to combat the spread of it

In addition to having very thorough daily sanitation of all shared and social services, we have excellent air flow at art facility (the best combatant against the viral and bacterial organisms) with open air suites.

We also ask owners of guests who exhibit coughing to keep them at home until their coughing has dissipated and at least a week has passed with no cough or until a confirmation of the source of the cough has been made by a vet. Allergies, collapsed trachea and other conditions can cause persistent coughs that aren’t contagious, but which could be confused for canine cough.

If we know to boarding client with coughing, we contact the owner to discuss options, including having a friend or family member pick up the dog for the remainder of their stay, or moving the coughing dog to an isolation room to monitor for the remainder of their stay.

There is nothing we can do to eliminate the potential in a social situation, but we can do all we can, which includes education for all owners on what kennel cough is and how to identify it.

Symptoms of kennel cough

In healthy adult dogs, kennel cough typically remains as a mild cold like illness and resolves itself, however, there are always exceptions, and in puppies or dogs with underlying health issues or compromised immune systems it can remain in their system much longer or become more serious requiring vet treatment or antibiotics.

The most common sign is a harsh, dry cough, which may be followed by retching and gagging. It is a sound that definitely tugs at the heartstrings. The severity of the cough usually diminishes during the first five days, but the illness can persist for up to 20 days or longer in young dogs, older dogs, or those with other underlying health issues or compromised immunity.

Other than a cough, which is generally worse in the morning, at night and after activity, appetite loss is usually the only other sign.

More severe signs, including fever, green nasal discharge, lethargy, loss of appetite, and a mucus-producing cough usually indicate a secondary infection that requires vet treatment.

Stress, which many dogs feel went away from home and boarding, can compromise a dogs immune system, further making a dog staying in a boarding situation susceptible to any variant of kennel cough.

Home treatments for symptoms of canine cough

As with anything you introduce to your dog, please research the correct dose, use or application of each item to aid in alleviating your dog’s symptoms.

And as always, you should always speak with your vet about your pets health to choose the path most appropriate for you and your pet. If your dog exhibits extreme lethargy, lack of appetite, changes in breathing or green nasal discharge, it is advisable to bring your dog to the vet.

Here are some methods which may aid in easing the symptoms of canine cough;

Unpasteurized honey- a natural antibacterial (1TB SP, 2X daily for larger breeds; 1/2 to one TSP, 2X daily for smaller breeds). Works to alleviate the nasal discharge that accompanies the cough you can get unpasteurized honey from specialized pet food stores.

  • Coconut oil dash is a natural antiviral and antibacterial. Helps to soothe throats.
  • Probiotics – besides being excellent for oral and digestive health, these beneficial bacteria are a great support for the immune system
  • Cinnamon – a natural antiviral you can sprinkle over food
  • Vitamins C&E-both provide immune system support.
  • Licorice root and marshmallow root – are natural anti-inflammatories and can soothe and naturally suppress a cough.
  • Slippy Elm – can help soothe sore and irritated throats.
  • Oregano oil – has antiseptic, antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties.
  • Essential oils -can be used to help with a canine cough to breathe easier. Oils of eucalyptus and lavender have anti-bacterial and antiviral properties. Chamomile has a calming effect.
  • Steam treatments (if their cough has moved to their chest). Keep your dog in a steamy bathroom for about 10 minutes afterward pat your dog firmly on both sides another chest to help loosen mucus and help your dog cough them out. Can be done in conjunction with essential oil therapy.
    – Jennifer Giesbrecht
    Doggy day school programs are similar to Human school settings, as the dogs interact with one another and can pass these viruses back and forth to each other. If your dog is coughing, please keep them at home until you confirm the cough is from a non-contagious source (allergies, medical condition, etc), or until the cough has run its course and they’ve been cough free for two weeks (14 days). These viruses are like the human flu viruses, there are many strands of the virus. Even though all of the dogs are vaccinated they can still contract the virus.
    If your pet contracts an upper respiratory virus, please keep us updated on how he/she is doing and let us know if there is anything we can do to help him/her feel better! Safety and comfort are our #1 concern for our special guests, and we like to inform pet parents when viruses sweep through the region and advise of anything particular to watch out for. Please let us know if you have any further questions about either of the upper respiratory viruses in canines! At Top Dog, your pet’s safety and comfort are our #1 concern.
    Stay strong and stay safe!-Jennie Fuller and Team Top Dog.