Contagious Illnesses for Social Dogs


Just like daycares or classes for children, there is always the risk that a dog can catch a virus or cold from socializing with other dogs, or simply being near them. Not only can they catch something at class, daycare or the kennel, they can catch it from the dog park, going into a pet store, passing another dog on the street – Almost anywhere! Some dogs have a higher immune system and do not catch as many viruses; some immune systems in dogs are lower or immature, and are more susceptible.

Here are a few common canine illnesses and their symptoms:

(Kennel Cough, also called Canine Cough)
Bordetella is a bacteria, although there are other viruses that can be a part of the complex. Usually sounds like your dog has something caught in his throat and is trying to cough it up. Dogs do not cough constantly, but usually when they get up from lying down, have been running, eating, etc.

Sometimes their eyes may be goopy and they may have a runny nose. Just like a flu shot, you dog may be vaccinated for kennel cough, but may still acquire it. Kennel Cough, or Canine Cough is an airborne bacteria, so your dog could get it anywhere, even if they never leave their own backyard. You could pick it up on your shoes while walking down the sidewalk and bring it home, they could get it from stepping into a pet store or a vet’s office – even without ever greeting another dog!


Recognized as one of the most common waterborne diseases. Dogs are most likely to get this from drinking standing water from a puddle at a dog park or while on a walk. Our veterinarian states that it is highly unlikely they would acquire Giardia from drinking from the water bowls at daycare or boarding. They could, however, contract Giardia from eating the feces of an infected dog. Some symptoms are diarrhea, gas, greasy stools, and nausea.

Viral Papilloma

Also called “Puppy Warts”. This virus can only be spread among dogs. To become infected, the dog generally needs an immature immune system, thus this infection is primarily one of young dogs and puppies. Viral Papillomas are round, often having a rough, jagged surface looking like a sea anemone or a cauliflower. They occur usually on the lips and muzzle of a young dog. In most cases treatment is unnecessary, but it is always advised to check with your veterinarian.

Just like at a child daycare or even at your workplace, there is always the possibility that your dog can catch a cold or virus from socializing with other dogs.  Not only can they catch it at class or at dog daycare, but at a kennel, the dog park, the pet store, or even just meeting other dogs on their walks.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, please keep him from social settings, and talk to your veterinarian.

Thanks to Dr. Jesse Sondel of Sondel Family Veterinary Clinic, and Dr. Sarah Kalstrup of True Veterinary Care for their input on this information!
–Giene and the Dog Face Team


About Dog Face

Giene Keyes, CPDT – KA Owner & Founder of Dog Face, LLC & Shooting Star Portuguese Water Dogs Giene started working with dog behavior in 1990 when she adopted a 4-year old Greyhound from the racing track. To date he is the most severe separation anxiety case that she has seen. He taught Giene about the psyche and learning process of dogs. It wasn’t until Giene was training her little pot-bellied Labrador puppy in 1995 that she really became interested in the actual training process of canines. Starting her small training business in 1997 she developed her own methods and ideas of positive reinforcement. She took what she had learned from her Greyhound, as well as positive methods she used to train horses, to create what is now the base of our training methods in the classes we teach today. Giene is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist in Southern Wisconsin. After winning Best of Madison for two years in a row, Giene sold her Madison Dog Daycare to devote her time to dog behavior and helping owners create harmony with their pets in their homes. Specializing in aggression and difficult dog cases, Giene also works with rescue groups and shelters, evaluating dogs for adoption, developing Canine Aggression Management programs, and educating staff on dog language and behaviors. She has provided behavior consultations for service dog organizations, rescue groups and dog daycares throughout the Midwest. She is often contacted by police departments to work with individuals that have dangerous dogs. As a mother of 3 young children, Giene also realizes the importance of family dog training. She incorporates realistic training methods and helps to incorporate dogs into the family. She is an Instructor with the American Red Cross in Pet CPR and First Aid, a Certified Canine Good Citizen Evaluator with the American Kennel Club, and a Licensed Judge with the WI Dept of Ag, Trade & Consumer Protection. Giene routinely presents seminars on Dog Behavior, Training, and Operant Conditioning as well as educating her staff on dog body language and pack mentality. Giene is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer. Giene has been a regular guest on popular Madison radio shows and interviewed on numerous evening newscasts. Giene has also been featured in a number of local magazines, including the cover for Wisconsin Woman in 2010. Giene has also been highlighted in the Wisconsin State Journal for her work with Chicken Clicker Training, improving dog training skills along with timing and observation, and recently interviewed for a Nationwide Podcast. She enjoys holding training workshops across the state. If you would like to learn more about Giene, Dog Face and the services they offer, please go to the Dog Face web site at Please feel free to contact Giene of any member of the Dog Face Behavior Team anytime!
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