September came in with a blast for the Fredericton and Oromocto areas with a wicked blast of upper respiratory illness for our furry canine friends that sent many dogs racing to veterinary offices for assistance with their cough or sneeze. Their humans are looking for information and answers. We are so appreciative of the efforts made by our local area vet offices to provide care and attention these furbabies to get it under control in our community.
Here at Paw & Order we also took several steps to minimize the spread of the cough from one furkid to the next. We immediately closed our daily daycamp program for a week to allow dogs who were potentially carrying the virus to develop symptoms, receive treatment and fully recover before returning to our facility. Any pet in our care who was suspected of either being a potential carrier or having come into contact with a potential carrier was immediately placed into our quarantine area with its own fresh air supply and entrance/exit to the building. We also increased our disinfecting procedures to “outbreak mode” to ensure that all indoor and outdoor areas were being assessed and treated. We postponed the start date of our classes, imposed restrictions when dogs could return to play and made several other changes during this time in an effort to keep this virus out of our facility since the health and well-being of our beloved furry clients is our top priority. As an additional safety measure, today we began the process of dismantling all of the walls in our overnight guest suite area and replacing them with new fiberglass panels to further reduce the number of tiny crevices where germs could possibly reside and we intend to cover the flooring with an epoxy coating. We tracked and charted “symptom start” dates and “first day symptom-free” dates in order to get some data for our local vet offices after having discussed the situation with our partner veterinary office. Using this data, have been able to determine that the average incubation period for this virus seems to be approximately 7 – 9 days before symptoms first appear and, in most cases, the cough/runny nose lasts 3-6 days. The incubation period of the virus is proving to be the most difficult part in keeping it contained. We are also working with a client to get an actual nasal swab of an infected dog to determine EXACTLY what illness we are dealing with in our community. We reached out to a city official to ask that the City of Fredericton post a sign at the dog park advising dog owners of the outbreak.
Why are we going through the effort and expense? Because these furbabies are worth it! Period. Regardless of whether the sick dogs are our clients or not, as a community we need to come together to protect our furry friends!
I do indeed get frustrated and angered when I see obvious steps not being taken by petcare professionals in our industry to get this under control quickly to minimize spreading and shedding to keep dogs from getting sick. Or worse yet, some pet parents getting inaccurate information about vaccinations and treatment options and "cheap and easy" solutions to rid facilities of the virus are being implemented when that very "fix" may very well be causing more harm than good. During this community outbreak, we have seen first-hand that our community needs more information on disease, potential threats and pet vaccinations. We need to educate, research and involve ourselves in our pet's health and well-being. We need to have better conversations with our veterinarians who are there to help and guide us. Just like going to your own family doctor, a little research in advance might just help you to ask the right questions and have better, more fruitful conversations with your veterinarian.
We are looking forward to this cycle of upper respiratory illness leaving our community and SOON! In the meantime, educate, educate, educate!