Is your dog suffering from a dry, ineffective cough? If this is the case, your dog may be suffering from Kennel Cough. Today, our Harrisburg veterinarians share some information about this highly contagious respiratory disease in dogs, as well as what you should do if your dog coughs.
What is Kennel Cough?
Infectious Canine Tracheobronchitis, also known as kennel cough, is a common respiratory disease in dogs. The bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica and the virus canine parainfluenza attack the lining of the dog's respiratory tract, causing inflammation and irritation of the pup's upper airway. While most otherwise healthy dogs are unaffected by this condition, it can lead to more serious secondary infections in young puppies, senior dogs, or dogs with a weakened immune system.
The term "kennel cough" refers to the highly contagious nature of this condition, which causes it to spread quickly in places where pets come into contact with one another, such as kennels, dog parks, and multi-dog homes. Kennel cough is spread when dogs come into contact with droplets released by an infected dog's cough. This can occur through direct contact with the infected dog or through contact with objects on which the infected droplets have fallen, such as dog toys, bowls, cages, or blankets.
Kennel Cough Symptoms in Dogs
The primary sign of kennel cough in dogs 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.
Because the condition is extremely contagious, 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 while 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
The process of determining kennel cough is essentially a process of elimination. Because kennel cough symptoms are shared by several more serious conditions, your veterinarian will examine your pet for signs of collapsing trachea, heartworm disease, bronchitis, asthma, cancer, heart disease, and other conditions. Coughing may also indicate the presence of the 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
Kennel cough can be easily treated in otherwise healthy adult dogs. Your veterinarian may decide that no medications are needed and that rest is the best treatment for your dog 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 help relieve your pup's persistent coughing.
While your pet is healing, it is best to avoid using neck collars and instead use a body harness when taking your dog for walks. You might also want to use a humidifier in rooms where your dog spends time, as this can help relieve his symptoms.
The majority of dogs recover from kennel cough in a week or two. If your dog's symptoms persist, a follow-up veterinary appointment is required. Kennel cough can, in some cases, lead to pneumonia.
Protecting Your Dog Against Kennel Cough
If your dog spends a lot of time with other dogs, talk to your vet about vaccinating him or her against kennel cough. While this vaccine may help to prevent kennel cough, it is not a foolproof solution because kennel cough can be caused by a variety of pathogens.
The vaccine is available in three forms: injection, nasal mist, and oral medication. If your veterinarian recommends the kennel cough vaccine for your pet, he or she will select 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.