Kennel Cough in Dogs – Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

If you're a pet owner, you've probably heard of kennel cough. It's a contagious respiratory infection that often affects dogs who stay in boarding facilities, go in for grooming appointments, or even casual interactions outside at the dog parks can lead to exposure and infection!

But what should you do if your pet contracts kennel cough? Is there anything you can do to help them recover? In this blog post, we'll discuss the symptoms and treatment options for kennel cough in pets. We'll also provide some tips on how to prevent your pet from getting sick in the first place. So, if you have a furry friend at home, read on to learn all about kennel cough!

Coughing dog.
Laughing happy dog. Fun Puppy at brown background

How Canine Kennel Cough Spreads

The airborne viruses and bacteria that are released when infected dogs cough are the principal carriers of kennel cough. It might unintentionally go onto someone's hands, shoes, or inanimate items. The canine parainfluenza virus, canine adenovirus, and Bordetella bronchiectasis are the three pathogens that are most frequently linked to cases of kennel cough. Kennels, animal shelters, grooming salons, and dog exhibitions are examples of settings where many dogs are kept in close quarters and where the kennel cough is easily disseminated.

Not all dogs who are exposed to the bacteria that cause kennel cough will become ill. Stress, general health, and respiratory irritants like smoke or dust all contribute.

The Effects of the Disease

Most dogs who have kennel cough only have minor symptoms. A dry, hacking cough is the predominant symptom, and appetite loss is also occasionally present. The cough may be loud and high-pitched. The cough is generally productive- meaning you may witness your pet hack foam or fluid out in small volumes. Bronchopneumonia can develop in some patients and may be secondary due to the presence of associated bacteria.

The majority of dogs recover in 1-2 weeks and are typically self-limiting. However, young, unvaccinated, or immune-comprised dogs are more likely to become clinical for the disease and can be more susceptible to developing bronchopneumonia.

Symptoms include:

  • Nasal discharge
  • Trouble breathing
  • Fever
  • Severe congestion
  • Constant coughing
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite

How to Detect Kennel Cough

A physical examination and medical history are used to make the diagnosis. When the trachea  is touched, dogs with this condition typically cough. Because the veterinarian needs to confirm that Canine Distemper is not the cause of coughing, accurate information about immunization history is important.

How to Treat Kennel Cough

Even while dogs with minor illnesses might not need medication, cough suppressants and anti-inflammatories can make them feel better. Antibiotics and bronchodilators are used to treat infections that are more severe.

How to avoid Kennel Cough

Vaccination is available for Bordetella bronchiectasis, canine adenovirus type 2, canine parainfluenza virus, canine distemper, and canine influenza. Infections with other members of the kennel cough complex cannot be prevented. Vaccine against adenovirus type 2, parainfluenza and canine distemper is generally included in the basic puppy series and subsequent boosters (the DHPP or distemper-parvo shot). For Bordetella bronchiseptica, vaccination can either be given as a separate injection at 4 months of age with a booster or as a nasal immunization and as early as 3 weeks of age.  Kennel Cough can still occur occasionally in vaccinated dogs, but it is less severe and decreases the chance of potentially getting secondary pneumonia.

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