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What is kennel cough in dogs?

Does your dog have a dry, non-productive cough? If this is the case, your dog may be suffering from what is commonly called kennel cough. Here, our Staten Island vets share some facts about this highly contagious disease and what to do if you notice its symptoms in your dog.

What is kennel cough?

Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis, more commonly known as kennel cough, is a common respiratory infection found in dogs. Kennel cough can often be caused by the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria or canine parainfluenza virus which both attack the lining of your dog's respiratory tract, leading to inflammation of their inner airways. 

While this condition isn't serious for most otherwise healthy dogs, it can lead to more serious secondary infections in young puppies, senior dogs, or dogs with a weakened immune system.

Due to the illness's high contagiousness, which makes it spread quickly in environments where pets are in close proximity to one another, such as kennels, dog parks, and multi-dog households, the illness is known as kennel cough. When dogs come in contact with droplets released by an infected dog's cough, kennel cough is spread. Direct contact with the infected dog or contact with items such as dog bowls, toys, cages, or blankets where the infected droplets have landed can result in the spread of the disease.

Kennel Cough Symptoms in Dogs

The primary sign of kennel cough in dogs is a persistent and non-productive cough (doesn't force any substances out of your dog's respiratory system or sometimes referred to as 'dry'). This cough is often described as sounding like a goose honking or like your dog has something stuck in their throat. Other kennel cough symptoms in dogs can include runny nose, sneezing, lack of energy, decreased appetite and mild fever.

If you spot signs of kennel cough in your dog keep your pet away from other dogs and contact your vet right away for advice.

Since this illness is so contagious, your veterinarian may advise you to simply isolate your dog from other dogs and let them rest for a few days while you monitor the course of their illness. This is especially important if your dog is otherwise healthy but is exhibiting symptoms.

On the other hand, if your pup's symptoms are more severe your vet may recommend bringing your pet in for an examination.

How Vets Diagnose Kennel Cough

It basically takes a process of elimination to identify kennel cough. Since several more serious conditions exhibit kennel cough-like symptoms, your veterinarian will check your pet for any indications of a collapsing trachea, heartworm disease, bronchitis, asthma, cancer, heart disease, and other conditions. Coughing may also be a symptom of the canine influenza or canine distemper viruses.

Depending on the results of your pet's examinations and medical history, your veterinarian will determine whether or not kennel cough is the probable cause of your dog's symptoms

Treatment for Kennel Cough in Dogs

It's typically very simple to treat adult dogs with kennel cough who would otherwise be considered healthy. Your veterinarian may determine that resting your companion while the infection takes its course is the best course of action and that no medication is necessary to treat this condition.

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.

Over the course of your dog's recovery, it's a good idea to avoid using neck collars and switch to a body harness when taking your dog for walks. You may also 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.

How To Protect Your Dog Against Kennel Cough

Ask your vet about giving your dog a kennel cough vaccination if they frequently interact with other dogs. Although this vaccine can be very effective in preventing the onset of kennel cough in dogs, there is no 100% guarantee that it will do so because there are numerous pathogens that can cause this disease.

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. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog suffering from a dry, hacking cough? Contact Aadobe Animal Hospital to book an examination for your four-legged friend!

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