What is Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough in dogs is a highly contagious  upper respiratory infection which can be caused by bacteria or a virus. The most common form of kennel cough is caused by the bacteria called Bordetella bronchiseptica. Frequently kennel cough is caused by a combination of both bacteria and virus. Other infections may come from parainfluenza virus, adenovirus and the canine distemper virus. The lining of the trachea and bronchi become inflamed and when air passes over them it results in an irritating cough.

What are the symptoms of Kennel Cough?

Kennel Cough presents as a dry, hacking, coarse cough, retching and gagging. It often sounds like your dog has got something caught in the back of his throat and he is trying to cough it up. Many owners mistakenly think that their dog has a bone caught in his throat. He may also cough up white frothy material. The dog is usually quite well (apart from the cough) with a normal temperature and it usually engages in its normal activities. The dog seldom loses its appetite. Coughing can become worse on exertion and can continue day and night which can become very distressing to the dog's owner. The cough can be produced if you gently press the region of the throat over the trachea.

Complications

Be watchful of your dog developing a raised temperature, lethargy, loss of appetite, eye and nose discharge or coughing up green phlegm as it is sometimes possible that a secondary bacterial infection can lead to pneumonia.

How is kennel cough transmitted

Kennel cough is a highly contagious disease. It transmits to other dogs much the same way as a human cold transmits in humans through airborne organisms or dog to dog contact. Symptoms generally begin 3 - 10 days after exposure.

Kennel cough is so named because it is often spread in areas where many dogs are confined together such as boarding kennels or animal shelters. Other at risk situations are dog groomers, animal hospitals and dog shows. One infected dog can soon infect many others even if it is not showing any symptoms of kennel cough at the time.

 
 

Treatment of Kennel Cough

Most uncomplicated cases of Kennel Cough usually resolve themselves without any treatment within 7 - 14 days. For symptomatic relief your vet may prescribe a cough suppressant, nebulizer, or short term steroids. He may also choose to prescribe antibiotics if the symptoms are severe or to lessen the chance of a secondary bacterial infection. The most commonly used antibiotics include Clavamox, trimethoprim sulfonamide and doxycycline.

To aid the recovery of your dog you should keep him warm, and reduce any stress. Also remove your dog's collar and use a harness if you need to restrain him. Encourage him to drink plenty of water and remember he may have a sore throat so soft food usually goes down well. Limit exercise and don't smoke near him.

How is kennel cough prevented?

There are two types of vaccine available for kennel cough, intranasal and injectable. Discuss with your vet which would be the most suitable for your dog. Puppies can be vaccinated intra-nasally as early as two weeks of age.

Many dog boarding facilities will not accept a dog that has not been vaccinated for Kennel Cough. Remember to vaccinate your dog a few weeks before boarding him to give time for the immunity to build up.




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