If your pooch is suffering from a dry non-productive cough it could have kennel cough. In this blog, our Palmyra vets explain the signs and symptoms of kennel cough and how you can protect your dog from this very contagious respiratory disease.
What Is Kennel Cough?
Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis, also called kennel cough, is a respiratory disease that our vets often see in dogs. Most of the time kennel cough is caused by the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria and canine parainfluenza virus that attacks the lining of the dog's respiratory tract and causes inflammation and irritation in your dog's upper airway. While this isn't usually a serious condition for overall healthy dogs, it can result in more serious secondary infections for senior dogs, young puppies, and dogs that have weakened immune systems.
This condition is known as kennel cough because of its highly contagious nature and how it can quickly spread in environments where dogs are in close contact with each other such as in multidog homes, dog parks, and kennels. Kennel cough spreads 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 by touching objects that have the infected droplets on them such as dog blankets, cages, bowls, and toys.
Signs & Symptoms of Kennel Cough in Dogs
A non-productive persistent dry cough is the primary symptom of kennel cough, and often it is described as sounding like a goose honk, or as if your dog has something caught in its throat. If your dog has kennel cough they may also exhibit symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, decreased appetite, lack of energy, and a mild fever.
If you notice your dog displaying any symptoms of kennel cough you need to keep them separated from other dogs and call your vet immediately to get advice.
Because of the incredibly contagious nature of the condition, 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 as 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.
Diagnosing Dogs With Kennel Cough
Your vet will diagnose your dog with kennel cough through a process of elimination because other conditions that are more serious share some of the same symptoms as kennel cough. Your vet will examine your pooch for signs of heartworm disease, collapsing trachea, asthma, bronchitis, heart disease, cancer, and more. Coughing can also be a sign 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.
Treating Kennel Cough in Dogs
Adult dogs that are otherwise healthy are typically easy to treat 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).
If your pooch 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 dog is recovering, we recommend avoiding the use of neck collars and using a body harness when you are walking your dog. You might also what to run a humidifier in areas where your dog spends most of its time because it can help alleviate its 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 From Kennel Cough
Does your dog spend a lot of time around other dogs? If so, you might want to ask your vet about getting the kennel cough vaccination for your dog. However, while it does help prevent kennel cough, it doesn't offer 100% prevention because kennel cough could be caused by various pathogens.
There are three forms of the vaccine available including an 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. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.