Is your dog displaying a dry and non-productive cough? If so, your pup may be suffering from Kennel Cough. Here, our Rancho Palos Verdes veterinarians share some information with you about this infectious respiratory disease in dogs and what to do if you notice your dog coughing.
What is Kennel Cough?
Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis is best known as kennel cough. It is an infectious respiratory disease that is common seen in dogs. Kennel cough is generally caused by a bacteria called Bordetella bronchiseptica or the canine parainfluenza virus, both fo which attack the lining of your dog's respiratory tract and may cause both inflammation and irritation in your dog's upper airways.
While this illness isn't serious for most dogs, it may cause more serious, secondary, infections in your puppies, senior dogs and dogs that have weakened immune systems.
The name kennel cough comes 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, dog parks, and multi-dog homes. Kennel cough is spread when dogs come in contact with the droplets released through the cough of an infected dog. This can be through direct contact with the infected dog or through contact with objects that the infected droplets have landed on such as dog toys, bowls, cages or blankets.
Kennel Cough Symptoms in Dogs
The primary symptom of kennel cough is a persistent and non-productive dry cough that may sound similar to a goose's honk or as though your pooch has something tuck in their throat. Some other signs of kennel cough in dogs may range from a lack of energy, a decreased appetite, a mild fever, a runny nose and sneezing.
If your dog is showing signs of kennel cough keep your pet away from other dogs and contact your vet right away for advice.
Because of how contagious this condition is, if your dog Is healthy otherwise and is only showing mild symptoms, your vet may advise that you simply isolate your dog and allow them to rest for a couple days while monitoring 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.
Depending on the results of your pet's exam and medical history, your veterinarian will determine whether or not kennel cough is the probable cause of your dog's symptoms.
How to Treat Kennel Cough in Dogs
In adult dogs that are otherwise healthy, kennel cough is very easy to treat. Your veterinarian may decide that no medications are required and that the best treatment for your pup is rest and relaxation while the infection runs its course (very similar to how we treat colds in people).
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 recovers, it's generally a good idea to avoid using neck collars when possible and switch to a body harness when taking your dog out for a walk. You may also find it helpful to run a humidifier in rooms where your dog spends lots of time. This will help your pup relieve their 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 routinely spends time with other dogs, ask your veterinarian about vaccinating your pet against kennel cough. While this vaccine helps to prevent the development of kennel cough, it isn't 100% effective since kennel cough may be caused by multiple 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 people or pets. If you are concerned about your pet's health, contact your veterinarian right away for diagnosis and treatment.