If your dog has a dry, non-productive cough, they may be suffering from kennel cough. Our Powder Springs vets share some facts regarding this highly contagious respiratory disease in dogs and what to do if your dog is coughing.
What is kennel cough?
The clinical term for kennel cough is Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis. This respiratory disease is commonly diagnosed in dogs. Often caused by the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria and canine parainfluenza virus, it attacks the linking of a dog's respiratory tract and leads to irritation and inflammation of your pup's upper airway. While this condition isn't serious for most dogs who are otherwise healthy, it can trigger more serious secondary infections in young puppies, senior dogs, or dogs that have a weakened immune system.
The name kennel cough originates from this condition's highly contagious nature. The disease can spread quickly in places where pets closely interact, such as multi-dog homes, dog parks and kennels. Kennel cough can easily spread when dogs come into contact with droplets released through the cough of an infected dog. This may occur through direct contact with the infected dog or through contact with objects that infected droplets have landed on, such as blankets, bowls, cages or dog toys.
Kennel Cough Symptoms in Dogs
A non-productive, persistent dry cough is the hallmark symptom of kennel cough. This can sound somewhat like a goose honk or as if your pooch has something stuck in their throat. Other signs of kennel cough in dogs may include sneezing, lack of energy, mild fever, decreased appetite and a runny nose.
Keep your pet away from other dogs and contact your vet right away for advice if your dog is showing signs of kennel cough.
Due to the extremely contagious nature of this condition, your vet may recommend simply isolating your pet from other dogs if your pup is otherwise healthy. You can allow them to rest for a few days while monitoring their symptoms.
However, your vet may ask you to bring your pet in for an examination if their symptoms are more severe.
How Kennel Cough is Diagnosed
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 to Treat Kennel Cough in Dogs
In otherwise healthy adult dogs kennel cough can be easy to treat. Your vet may decide that no medications are required and that the best treatment for your dog is rest 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 provide your pup with some relief from the persistent coughing.
While your pet is recovering it is a good idea to avoid using neck collars. Switch to a body harness when taking your dog for walks. You may also want to use a humidifier in rooms where your dog spends time, as this can help to relieve your dog's symptoms.
Most dogs recover from kennel cough within a week or two. If your pup's symptoms persist for longer a follow-up veterinary appointment is essential. In some cases, kennel cough can lead to pneumonia.
Protecting Your Dog Against Kennel Cough
If your dog regularly spends time with other dogs, ask your vet about vaccinating your pet against kennel cough. While this vaccine may help to prevent kennel cough it is not 100% because kennel cough can be caused by several different 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 people or pets. If you are concerned about your pet's health, contact your veterinarian right away for diagnosis and treatment.