What is kennel cough? Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease among dogs, like the human cold. There are many different strains of the virus and it is very contagious. Dogs that have some other virus are more likely to be susceptible to contracting kennel cough. Kennel cough can rear its head at any time of the year and is very infectious. Outbreaks can occur when dogs are near one another such as kennels, groomers, dog shows, fields and parks. Dogs that live and play together are likely to all get it. Kennel cough is the common name for an infection of the upper respiratory tract of the dog and can be caused by a variety of different viruses and pathogens. Canine Parainfluenza, Canine Tracheobronchitis, Adenovirus, Coronavirus, Distemper and some bacterial infections such as Bordetella Bronchiseptica can all lead to a dog contracting the disease. Kennel cough is highly contagious and will soon spread through a community of dogs kept in close quarters or that come into contact with each other or contaminated items when out on walks. Kennel cough in fact got its name by virtue of its prevalence and propensity to spread quickly between dogs housed in boarding kennels and dog shelters. Generally, if a healthy dog begins coughing consistently, it is due to some type of kennel cough, bacteria, virus or a combination.
My dog is vaccinated so it cannot get kennel cough
Kennel cough is only caught in kennels
An area must be dirty if my dog got kennel cough
A dog must be near a dog with kennel cough to get it
A dog must have been near the virus in the last week to get it
A dog is not contagious once the coughing has stopped
How do dogs get Kennel cough? Dogs of any age can contract it, but puppies, older dogs and pregnant bitches may be more vulnerable due to a weakened immune system (puppies have an underdeveloped immune system). Dogs with high stress levels or doing lots of barking are also more succeptable, making dogs in kennels at high risk.
It is spread via direct contact or through inhaling air-borne droplets of bacteria into their respiratory tract, it has an incubation period of two to 14 days or even longer
and can be contagious up to ten weeks after the cessation of coughing. Infection can spread via contact with an infected dog or simply by contact with items contaminated with germs from an infected dog. If they are near other dogs, they are more likely to get it, but it is possible to get it from sniffing a blade of grass that was coughed on or picking up a stick that was carried by a dog with kennel cough, as it is an airborne virus.
There are several factors that can increase the chance of them getting kennel cough:
Exposure to crowded, under ventilated conditions such as kennels
Exposure to dust or cigarette smoke
Under developed immune system
Some dogs just seem to be susceptible to it.
What are the symptoms of Kennel cough?
Coughing (dry hacking cough or possibly a “honking “ sound)
Lethargy and reluctance to exercise
Symptoms are usually visible for 10 – 20 days and are generally worst during times of stress or excitement.
The worst cases are generally in the very young and the very old. When dogs have an already compromised immune system, Pneumonia can develop and in extreme cases death.
Diagnosis of Kennel cough
Dogs are usually diagnosed when having observed one or more of the symptoms above. Also kennel cough is most prevalent at times when people go on holiday. Even if your dog has not been in a kennel, it may have picked up a stick or played in the park with a dog who has recently been in a kennel. There are so many strains of kennel cough and so many variations that the kennel cough inoculation, like the flu jab, can only cover a few.
Is there a treatment for kennel cough? Kennel cough often resolves itself, but you should visit your vet if you suspect the ailment. Depending on the severity of the infection and the severity of the symptoms, there are two main types of treatments. In the most common and uncomplicated type of disease, there is generally no need for antibiotics. and some natural remedies can be used.
If the dog is alert but has only minor symptoms along with the recurrent cough, then it is often left alone to go through the course of the disease, just like the common cold in humans. Most of the time an anti-inflammatory agent will be given to the dog to reduce the severity and frequency of coughing episodes and to make the dog more comfortable. Antibiotics will be used if your dog is not eating, is running a fever, and is showing signs of severe respiratory troubles, as this may indicate pneumonia.
While the dog is recovering from the infection, allow it to breath without anything that might irritate or constrict its throat – such as collars or scarves/bandannas. For walks and outings, collars should be substituted with a harness but when out dog walking do remember not to go to the park and infect other dogs.
Complete recovery can take up to three weeks in healthy dogs and up to six weeks in young and older dogs. They should be totally isolated from other dogs throughout this time to prevent the ailment spreading.
Some Kennel Cough Remedies
Nosodes. A nosode is a homeopathic remedy derived from a pathological specimen. Nosodes stimulate the natural immune system to react against specific diseases. Kennel cough nosodes are particularly effective.
Vitamins C and E. Vitamin C is an antiviral and E provides immune system support.
Humidify the room they are in
Cough medicine can help reduce the symptoms
Remember the one thing always guaranteed to work is tender loving care.
You should speak to your vet about the treatments you are considering and ask their advice.
A vaccination is readily available from their vet to help prevent Kennel Cough and is painlessly administered by syringe into the nasal passages, however not all strains of kennel cough are covered.
Ensure that any dog that you suspect has kennel cough is wearing a harness rather than a collar, so their throat is not compressed when they cough.
Ensure they go near no other unaffected dogs.
Keep walks to areas that as few dogs frequent as possible.
Keep walks low impact.
Ensure access to lots of very fresh water
Focus on keeping your dog’s immune system strong, which is really their best defence against kennel cough.