A leading London vet has alerted dog owners in the capital to a kennel cough epidemic which is sweeping the city.

Dr David Pogmore, a clinical director at Linnaeus-owned Village Vet, which has 30 practices across London, Hertfordshire and Cambridge, fears the outbreak could even worsen as more dogs go into kennels during the summer holidays.

Kennel cough, or acute tracheobronchitis as it is medically known, is a highly contagious, airborne disease which is spread through dogs being in close contact, especially in poorly ventilated areas, and from sharing toys and bowls.

Dr Pogmore said: “Unfortunately, we've had something of an epidemic of kennel cough across London over the past couple of months.

“The disease is a mixed viral and bacterial respiratory infection, which is airborne and highly contagious, so has spread easily across the city.

“Kennel cough is, in fact, a misnomer as it can be caught anywhere that dogs congregate. I’ve seen many cases over the past couple of months which have, thankfully, responded well to treatment – usually anti-inflammatories and painkillers plus antibiotics, if necessary.

“There is also a vaccine available to help prevent the disease which can be administered to puppies from eight weeks of age with immunity typically lasting for one year.”

Dr Pogmore is urging dog owners to protect their pets by having them vaccinated this summer and he says pet lovers should contact their vet straightaway if they think their animal is infected.

He added: “If you suspect your dog has kennel cough, contact your vet who will be able to provide treatment to alleviate the symptoms and keep your pet comfortable.

“The incubation period of kennel cough is between two to 14 days but some dogs have been shown to be carriers of the disease for months without developing symptoms.

“It is not usually dangerous but it does have some unpleasant symptoms including a persistent cough, gagging and the production of mucous. Puppies, elderly dogs and those with underlying medical conditions are more prone to serious complications such as pneumonia.

“Brachycephalic breeds (short-nosed dogs) such as pugs and French bulldogs can also suffer more acute problems due to their narrow airways.

“Our advice for all dogs which have had kennel cough is to keep them to be isolated from other dogs for at least two weeks after their symptoms have resolved.”

For more information on kennel cough or Village Vet, visit www.villagevet.co.uk.

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