Kennel cough (proper name infectious tracheobronchitis) is a common and highly contagious condition affecting dogs in the U.S. Kennel cough can be highly unpleasant and debilitating, and in some rare cases, prove to be fatal. Thankfully, in addition to successful treatment, advances in veterinary medicine have allowed for the creation of a vaccine to prevent the condition entirely.
What causes kennel cough?
Unfortunately, kennel cough is not caused by a single pathogen and instead can be triggered by a variety of different bacteria and viruses. When the pathogens in bacteria and viruses enter the body, they attack the cilia lining the respiratory tract, causing the upper airway to become inflamed. Irritation of the entire respiratory system quickly follows, and the dog develops a dry cough.
Unfortunately, canines who are suffering from kennel cough are significantly more susceptible to secondary infections, resulting in a serious upper respiratory infection which is much harder to treat.
How has my dog been infected with kennel cough?
Kennel cough is highly contagious, and gets it name from the fact that it is extremely common in canine kennels, where numbers of dogs are in close proximity to one another. The actual infection is usually spread through direct contact, such as dogs touching, or sharing water bowls, or through oral or nasal secretions.
Symptoms of kennel cough
Kennel cough usually has an incubation period of between 3-10 days, during which time the dog is infected but not showing symptoms. Nevertheless, infected canines can still spread the disease during this time.
The condition is characterized by a dry, hacking cough that sounds similar to the vocalization made by a goose. Many dogs will have short coughing fits, during which they expel white, frothy phlegm. As the illness continues, some dogs develop a fever, become lethargic and lose interest in their food.
The time it takes for your dog to recover from kennel cough can vary depending on your pet’s age, general health and strength of the infection. On average, a canine suffering from kennel cough is unwell for around 7-10 days.
Treatment for kennel cough
The treatment for kennel cough tends to vary depending on the severity of the symptoms. In mild cases of the condition, our veterinarian may decide that it is best to let the self-limiting illness run its course without intervention. This may also help protect your pet against future infections of the same strain.
In more severe cases of the disease, our vet may recommend medications such as oral antibiotics and cough suppressants. If your canine companion is particularly young or old, or has a supressed immune system, our vet will probably keep a watchful eye on his condition.
Preventing kennel cough
Kennel cough is much like the human cold, and in many cases, dogs may only experience a mild dose of the disease. However, some pets, for example those who go into kennels regularly, may be more likely to contract the condition. Many owners of these canines choose to take advantage of the vaccine that helps to prevent the development of kennel cough.
There are several different vaccinations that can offer your pet some protection from kennel cough. These include:
- the commercial kennel cough vaccine (that contains the Bordetella agent only, and may not protect against other infectious pathogens that are involved with producing the disease).
- multivalent vaccinations. These include protection from some of the infectious agents that go hand in hand with kennel cough, including parainfluenza and adenovirus.
- an intra-nasal Bordetella vaccine (which is believed to offer immunity faster than the injectable vaccine).
If you would like to know more about the advantages and disadvantages of vaccinating your furry best friend against kennel cough, contact and arrange an appointment with the veterinarian of All Paws Veterinary Clinic who will be happy to talk you through the decision.