The BC SPCA is warning dog guardians to be aware of what appears to be an unusual strain of kennel cough showing up in dogs in B.C. 

The agency says the dogs showing kennel cough symptoms were immediately isolated, but as they began testing for known viruses and bacteria, the tests kept coming back negative. They now believe it’s a strain of the virus that can’t be detected by commercially available tests, and is not covered by the usual vaccine.

The SPCA says it is also spreading aggressively between dogs who weren’t even in close contact.

Dr. Emilia Gordon, senior manager of animal health for the BC SPCA, says they are 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. She notes that 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,” says Dr. Gordon. “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.” 

The BC SPCA urges dog guardians to isolate their pet immediately if they begin coughing and to seek veterinary advice. In the meantime, the SPCA has collected samples as part of the outbreak investigation and is teaming up with specialists and diagnostic laboratories to pursue the cause of the outbreak.