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What is Kennel Cough in Dogs? Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

What is Kennel Cough in Dogs? Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

Kennel cough can leave your dog with a dry cough and plenty of discomfort. In this blog, our Clackamas vets share some knowledge about kennel cough in dogs and the steps you should take if your pup contracts this condition.

What is Kennel Cough in Dogs?

Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis, commonly referred to as kennel cough, is a respiratory disease that is often found in dogs. Usually, kennel cough is caused by the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica and the canine parainfluenza virus that attacks the lining of a dog's respiratory tract resulting in irritation and inflammation. For otherwise healthy dogs, this condition generally isn't serious, however, it can cause more serious secondary infections in geriatric dogs, young puppies, or dogs that have a weakened immune system.

The term kennel cough stems from the highly contagious character of this illness, which makes it spread quickly in areas where pets come into close contacts with one another like multi-dog households, kennels, and dog parks. Kennel cough is spread when dogs come in contact with the droplets released through the cough of an infected dog. This can be through direct contact with the infected dog or through contact with objects that the infected droplets have landed on such as dog toys, bowls, cages, or blankets.

Kennel Cough Symptoms in Dogs

A non-productive persistent dry cough that often sounds like a goose honk, or as if your dog has something stuck in its throat is the main symptom of kennel cough. Other symptoms of kennel cough in dogs could include a lack of energy, a mild fever, sneezing, a runny nose, and a lack of appetite.

If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms separate them from the other dogs in your home and call your vet immediately to get advice.

This condition is incredibly contagious. If your pooch is otherwise healthy and only exhibiting mild symptoms, your vet may suggest keeping them isolated from other pets and providing your pet with several days' rest as you keep an eye on their symptoms.

Although, if your dog has more severe symptoms your vet might ask you to bring them into the office so they can be examined.

Diagnosing Dogs With Kennel Coughs

Diagnosing kennel cough is essentially a process of elimination. Several more serious conditions share the symptoms of kennel cough, as such your vet will examine your pet for signs of collapsing trachea, heartworm disease, bronchitis, asthma, cancer, heart disease, and more. Coughing can also be a sign of 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 Kennel Cough in Dogs is Treated

It's usually easy to treat healthy adult dogs for kennel cough. Your vet may decide that no medications are required and that the best treatment for your dog is to rest while the infection runs its course (much like the human cold).

Are your dog's symptoms more severe? Your veterinarian might prescribe antibiotics to help prevent secondary infections or cough suppressants to give your pooch a bit of relief from the continuous coughing.

As your dog recovers, it's best to avoid the use of neck collars and use a body harness instead when you are taking them for walks. You might also want to run a humidifier in rooms where your dog spends most of its time because it could help alleviate its symptoms.

It generally takes one or two weeks for dogs to recover from kennel cough. If your canine companion's symptoms continue for longer than this it's essential to schedule a follow-up appointment with your vet. Sometimes, kennel cough can result in pneumonia.

Preventing Kennel Cough in Dogs

If your dog spends a fair amount of time around other dogs talk to your vet about getting your pooch vaccinated against kennel cough. While this vaccine could help prevent kennel cough it doesn't offer 100% prevention because kennel cough could be caused by various pathogens.

Three forms of the vaccine are available injection, nasal mist, and oral medication. If the kennel cough vaccine is recommended for your pet, your veterinarian will choose the most appropriate form.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.

Are you concerned about a dry cough your dog has developed? Contact our Clackamas vets to schedule an appointment today.

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