What is kennel cough?
Kennel cough in dogs is very similar to the common cold in humans; it’s an infection of the upper respiratory tract. The main symptom is a dry, hacking cough that produces phlegm. This disease is highly contagious between dogs.
What does kennel cough sound like? It is very similar to the sound your dog makes when he is coughing and about to throw up. The cough is also very common and can be almost constant in severe cases. Your dog may also have extra secretions in the nose or eyes, or sneeze more often. Most dogs live quite well with kennel cough and would maintain their usual activities and appetite throughout their recovery.
Kennel cough can be caused by several types of viruses and bacteria. The most common cause is the Bordetella bronchiseptica strain of bacteria. However, kennel cough can be caused by other microorganisms, and your dog is more likely to be infected by the bacteria when his immune system is weakened by an existing viral infection.
Kennel cough has an incubation period of 2 to 14 days, during which time the dog will not show any obvious symptoms but will still be contagious and can spread it to other dogs. Once symptoms begin, kennel cough usually lasts 2 to 3 weeks, although some dogs with medical conditions or older dogs may take up to 6 weeks to recover. There are rare cases where kennel cough can develop into pneumonia, which can be very serious.
How did my dog catch kennel cough?
Dogs can catch kennel cough anytime they are exposed to viruses or bacteria. However, because of its highly contagious nature, it is especially prevalent in kennels, which is why it is commonly called kennel cough.
Kennel cough is airborne, just like the human cold. When an infected dog coughs, droplets containing the bacteria or virus are dispersed into the air and spread to other animals nearby. The disease can also be spread by sharing toys, bowls or other objects with an infected dog. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to keep your dog quarantined if you think that he’s showing signs of kennel cough.
What should I do if my dog has kennel cough symptoms?
In most cases, kennel cough gets better with time, just like the common cold! No specific treatment is needed. You can take steps to make your dog more comfortable, such as removing his collar and using a humidifier to relieve the cough. The cough is usually more of an annoyance to the family than the dog itself.
Her are a few guidelines:
- If your dog is in good overall condition and eating well, treatments are often not necessary. Before taking your dog to your veterinarian, assess the severity of his symptoms and contact the clinic if required. Your veterinarian will decide if your dog needs to be examined or not.
- If your dog shows signs of breathing difficulties, is not eating normally, is elderly or immunosuppressed, a visit to the veterinarian may be necessary. Chest X-rays are often recommended, and an antibiotic may be prescribed.
- Your dog should be considered contagious for 2 weeks after the end of symptoms. He should not go to dog parks or dog daycare centres during that time.
Preventing kennel cough
Make sure your dog is up to date on all vaccinations. If your dog is not properly vaccinated or if you are unsure, contact your veterinarian today.
Vaccine prevention remains your best choice!