What is Kennel Cough?
The respiratory disease Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis, also referred to as kennel cough, is often diagnosed in dogs.
Kennel cough is commonly caused by the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria and canine parainfluenza virus that attack the lining of a dog's respiratory tract.
This can lead to a dog's upper airway becoming irritated and inflamed. While this condition isn't serious for most dogs who are otherwise healthy, it can lead to more serious secondary infections in dogs with a weakened immune system, puppies or senior dogs.
The name kennel cough originates from the highly contagious nature of this condition, which causes it to spread rapidly in places where pets are in close contact with each other such as kennels, multi-dog homes and dog parks.
Kennel cough can be spread when dogs come into contact with droplets released through an infected dog's cough. This might occur through direct contact with the infected dog or via contact with objects that the infected droplets have landed on, such as bowls, blankets, cages or dog toys.
Kennel Cough Symptoms in Dogs
The primary symptom of kennel cough is a non-productive persistent dry cough that can sound somewhat like a goose honk or as if your pup has something stuck in their throat. Other signs of kennel cough in dogs can include runny nose, sneezing, lack of energy, decreased appetite and mild fever.
If your dog is showing signs of kennel cough keep your pet away from other dogs and contact your vet right away for advice.
Due to the incredibly contagious nature of the condition, if your dog is otherwise healthy, and showing mild symptoms, your vet may recommend simply isolating your pet from other dogs and allowing your pup to rest for a few days as you monitor their symptoms.
On the other hand, if your pup's symptoms are more severe your vet may recommend bringing your pet in for an examination.
How Kennel Cough is Diagnosed
Diagnosing kennel cough is essentially a process of elimination. There are a number of more serious conditions that share the symptoms of kennel cough, as such your vet will examine your pet for signs of a collapsing trachea, heartworm disease, bronchitis, asthma, cancer, heart disease and more. Coughing can also be a sign of canine distemper virus or canine influenza virus.
Based on the results of your pet's examination and medical history your vet will determine whether kennel cough is the likely cause of your pup's symptoms.
How to Treat Kennel Cough in Dogs
In otherwise healthy adult dogs kennel cough can be easy to treat. Your vet may decide that no medications are required and that the best treatment for your dog is rest while the infection runs its course (much like the human cold).
If your dog is experiencing more severe symptoms your vet may prescribe antibiotics to help prevent secondary infections or cough suppressants to provide your pup with some relief from the persistent coughing.
While your pet is recovering it is a good idea to avoid using neck collars, and switch to a body harness when taking your dog for walks. You may also want to use a humidifier in rooms where your dog spends time, as this can help to relieve your dog's symptoms.
Most dogs recover from kennel cough within a week or two. If your pup's symptoms persist for longer a follow-up veterinary appointment is essential. In some cases, kennel cough can lead to pneumonia.
Protecting Your Dog Against Kennel Cough
If your dog regularly spends time with other dogs ask your vet about vaccinating your pet against kennel cough. While this vaccine may help to prevent kennel cough it is not a 100% prevention since kennel cough can be caused by a number of different pathogens.
Three forms of the vaccine are available injection, nasal mist, and oral medication. If the kennel cough vaccine is recommended for your pet, your veterinarian will choose the most appropriate form.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.