Fairfax Co. animal shelter sees surge in kennel cough. Here’s how you can help

Kennel cough is making its way through dogs at an animal shelter in Fairfax County, Virginia. Now, the shelter is asking the public for help.

The surge in upper respiratory infections (sometimes called kennel cough) is being magnified by two factors — there are more dogs at the Fairfax County Animal Shelter than usual and those dogs are staying longer than typical, according to a news release.

“While it is common to have a few dogs with upper respiratory infections (URIs) at any given time, occasionally URIs can spread through a shelter population quickly and cause more dogs to experience symptoms,” a news release said.

The shelter said it has “robust daily cleaning protocols” and is monitoring dogs for symptoms. Healthy dogs are kept away from those showing symptoms as much as possible.

Here’s what the shelter says you can do to help.


Dogs with mild symptoms are available for adoption and can better recover from infections out of the shelter. The infections can’t jump from dog to human or other species of animals.

Adopting cats and other pets can allow staff to “devote more time and attention to symptomatic dogs,” the shelter said.

You can look at adoptable pets online.


People who don’t have other dogs can volunteer to foster a large dogs for two weeks by emailing animalshelter@fairfaxcounty.gov with the subject line “Two-week large dog foster.”

Postpone surrendering

Pet owners looking to rehome a dog are asked to try to find someone directly rather than dropping a pet at the shelter.

If a dog must be surrendered, the shelter is asking pet owners to delay bringing that pet in for two weeks and to make sure dogs are up-to-date on vaccinations.

Upper respiratory infections are typically viral and are worse in humid environments. Stress can be a factor in the severity of an infection.

The rise in upper respiratory infections comes after an increase of a highly contagious canine parvovirus in the D.C. region last spring.

Jessica Kronzer

Jessica Kronzer graduated from James Madison University in May 2021 after studying media and politics. She enjoys covering politics, advocacy and compelling human-interest stories.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up