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Funnily enough the reason that we get most of our coughs and colds in winter and cats and dogs in the summer is the same - lots of individuals sharing the same airspace.
We humans congregate indoors in winter, our pets congregate in boarding kennels in the summer. Wherever people or animals live closely together coughs and colds can easily spread, especially if it is nice and warm.
For coughs and colds to be able to spread and infect an animal they need to be able to do two things: first they need to travel from one animal to the other (the shorter the distance the better) and secondly they need to survive the trip (the warmer the better)
The Shelter puts a lot of time, effort and money in keeping coughs and colds under control as much as possible. This is not an easy task at all for various reasons:

  • The Shelter deals with a large number of animals.
  • Space is very limited.
  • An animal can be apparently healthy when it arrives but can be in the process of becoming ill (it can take 2 to 21 days from picking up the infection to becoming ill and showing symptoms
  • Animals at the Shelter are more susceptible to becoming ill because they are in unfamiliar surroundings and because they have often been neglected.
  • Resources are not unlimited

In the fight against spread of these diseases all animals at the Shelter are vaccinated as soon as possible. Kennels, walls, passages, food bowls, beds, everything is kept as clean as possible and is disinfected every single day of the year (yes every day including Christmas day!). Spread from animal to animal is prevented as much as possible by not allowing direct contact between animals (unless they are kennel mates), by not touching animals in passing, by wearing protective clothing (which is destroyed immediately after use when dealing with suspected or ill animals), by hanging sheets across kennel doors and where possible by keeping affected animals in isolation.

Despite all these efforts it is not possible to prevent coughs and colds from entering or spreading in the Shelter. From time to time these diseases (especially in cats) threaten to become epidemics and in such circumstances the Shelter may have to stop admitting animals until the disease is under control.
For healthy adult dogs and cats a cold or a cough is uncomfort able but not generally life
threatening. For young puppies and kittens and for animals that are not well for other reasons these illnesses can be fatal! It is the hard reality of working in a Shelter that some animals will die of these diseases every year.