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A new strain of kennel cough is spreading across the Bozeman area, making dogs sick and even killing some pets.

Easily communicable, this particular strain of the disease has proven to be resistant to many forms of medicine and has been making the rounds at Bozeman’s dog parks.

The veterinary clinics in Bozeman have not been taking the outbreak lightly and have been working to spread information about the disease.

“We initially thought it was a regular kennel cough when we started seeing it in June,” said Loni Odenbeck, veternarian and co-owner of 360 Pet Medical. “Pretty quickly it was apparent that it was spreading very fast. We now have about three to four confirmed deaths.”

Odenbeck said the cases have been known to spread to entire blocks of dogs that have had contact over the fences that separate them. She said her clinic has had 150 cases and 10 percent of the dogs have developed pneumonia.

“The vaccine does not seem to be protective for this strain. We are urging owners to keep their dogs isolated, as some of the dogs have gotten very sick very quickly,” she said, adding that a laboratory is working on a vaccine. “This could potentially be a new strain that hasn’t been encountered before. Unfortunately the process to find a cure takes three to four months.”

Odenbeck said her clinic has been in contact with local vets to attack the disease. They also are reaching out to shelters and groomers.

“It seemed to be slowing down,” said Odenbeck “But it’s started picking back up. Thankfully the pneumonia has slowed down and dogs are having less serious effects.”

Barbara Werner Douglas was recently at Snowfill park with her dog, Cash.

“They offered to vaccinate him,” she said. “At first we didn’t think it was worth the $10, but we travel so much that we worry about keeping our dog healthy.”

Clara Smith, a local dog owner, said she is scared because they haven’t contained the outbreak.

“I will not be taking my dog to the park for a while, and I’m asking my friends to do the same,” she said.

Pet owners should call their vet if they see symptoms in their dogs, which, according to the American Kennel Club, include a strong “honking” cough, runny nose, sneezing, lethargy, loss of appetite and a low fever.

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Rolf Tengdin is a general assignment reporter for the Chronicle. He can be reached at


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