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Pet Owners Staying Away After Reports of Kennel Cough at Dog Park

Forest Preserve District of Will County said veterinarians have confirmed respiratory infections in several dogs.

Credit: File photo
Credit: File photo
Some dog owners say they fear a kennel cough outbreak is affecting pets who have visited the Forest Preserve District of Will County's Whalon Lake Dog Park, located on Royce Road near Bolingbrook.

Members of a Whalon Lake Dog Park Facebook group, which is not affiliated with the forest preserve district, have reported that several pets have become ill after visiting the park.

On Monday, the forest preserve district said it has received informal reports of dogs coming down with kennel cough, a highly contagious upper respiratory infection, but has been unable to confirm the reports so far.

"One Bolingbrook veterinarian said in the past week or so his clinic has treated three dogs for respiratory infections," spokeswoman Cindy Cain said in an email to dog park permit holders. "All three dogs had visited the dog park. However, the vet said a positive kennel cough diagnosis cannot be made without an expensive culture of the dog's trachea, and most pet owners do not want to pay for the test. Instead, dogs are treated with antibiotics for seven to 10 days and they recover."

According to the email, another veterinarian said dogs can contract respiratory illnesses from locations "including dog grooming businesses, pet shops, veterinary clinics, or even apartment buildings that have multiple pets." 

Dog park patrons were advised to keep their pets at home if they are exhibiting respiratory illness symptoms like coughing for sneezing, Cain wrote. The email also urged anyone with questions to contact their veterinarian. 

Pet owners took their concerns to the forest preserve district last week after reports of several sick dogs.

"Just a heads up ... My dogs have recently come down with an upper respiratory infection," one dog owner wrote, and also posted a video of her dog coughing. "The only contact my dogs have had with any other dogs, has been at the dog park, so I am going to assume that is where they got it. Just beware, it is highly contagious (both airborne and through contact) but it is treatable. If your dog shows signs of discharge from their eyes or nose and/or has developed a cough, get them to the vet. If left untreated it could develop into pneumonia."

Another member said she believed her dog also had kennel cough after a visit to the vet. Despite being current on her bordetella vaccination, the pet owner said her pooch had been lethargic and was running a temperature. 

"Ernie Banks came down with a respiratory infection (kennel cough) but we haven't been to a groomer or to a kennel, so I'm pretty sure we're passing it around at the park," another dog-lover wrote. "We've been staying home since we went to the vet to let the antibiotics work."

Cain told Patch that the reports of illness are isolated to Whalon Lake.

"We are advising people to contact their veterinarian for advice if they are concerned about the reports of dogs becoming ill after visiting the dog park," she said in an email Tuesday. "Pet owners should use their best judgment on whether or not they should bring their pets to the dog park, and if they need more information to make that decision, they should contact their vet."

Dennis Brooke, an administrator for the dog park Facebook group, said he was disappointed by the response from the forest preserve district.

"It is obvious from the email from the park district that they do not care about our furbabies as we do," Brooke said. "They pointed out in writing that the cases of kennel cough were not confirmed because the owners were too cheap to pay for the necessary tests to confirm. We are going to have to combat this on our own."

Because kennel cough has an incubation time of several weeks — meaning even dogs who have recovered from the illness could remain contagious — Brooke is urging pet owners to avoid the park.

"Please do not go to the park until May 25th the earliest. That is two week from the time of the last reported [illness]," Brooke wrote. 

Whalon Lake is on Royce Road, with a portion of the preserve, including the dog park, in Naperville. The lake itself is in Bolingbrook.

Jan Schrock May 23, 2014 at 09:43 AM
please take your digg to the vet if he/she develops a "cough". It may be kennel cough or it could be something worse like blastomycosis. Symptoms are similar. Please search the internet for information. The Plainfield patch had a good article in the past about the disease.
Jan Schrock May 23, 2014 at 09:44 AM
*dog (darn auto spell check/correct)

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