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Avoiding Kennel Cough with Predictive Analytics

For those who observe, we wish you a safe, happy, healthy Fourth of July week. In the spirit of keeping things a little lighter as people travel and vacation, we thought we’d turn our attention to a problem dog owners face every year: kennel cough. When do people search for kennel cough the most? Of course, it’s during the summer months when people vacation. As we often say, the value of predictive analytics isn’t the prediction, but the specificity of the prediction. Are there weeks when the searches for the disease are abnormally high?

Like most diseases, kennel cough spreads unevenly through a population. Locations will have higher or lower incidences based on the environment and what’s happening in an area. We also must take into account behavior. People will also search for the term after their dog returns home, ill. If we could forecast in advance when people in our area will be searching most for it, we will have a better idea of when a vacation might expose our pets to the disease. Kennel cough typically has an incubation period of 5-7 days, so people will start searching for information about it two weeks after their their dog contracts it.

That means pet owners should be especially vigilant in their locations two weeks before searches hit their peak.

Try out our interactive map to explore kennel cough throughout the United States over the next 12 months:

Click on the date scroller on the upper right side to change the week. Scroll/drag to zoom in and move around the map.

If the map is difficult to read on this page, click here to view it on Tableau Public.

Let’s look at this data in a different way, as a table. Click on the date header for any week to see the states with the highest searches for kennel cough that week:

If the table is difficult to read on this page, click here to view the table on Tableau Public.

What do we do with this information? Knowing when your dog is most likely to contract it (based on search week – two weeks for the actual exposure) means potentially rescheduling vacations or puppy play dates to reduce the likelihood of exposure. It also means being financially prepared, should you need it, for an extra vet visit above and beyond your dog’s routine care.

The power of predictive analytics extends beyond business to our four-legged friends. May you and your furry friends have a safe, happy, and healthy Fourth of July week!

Christopher S. Penn

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