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

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

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 Groton 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.

The name kennel cough comes from the highly contagious nature of this condition, which causes it to spread rapidly in places where pets are in close contact with each other such as kennels, dog parks, and multi-dog homes. 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

The primary symptoms of kennel cough 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 condition is so contagious, if your dog is showing symptoms but is otherwise healthy, your vte may recommend that you just isolate your pooch from other dogs and allow them to rest for a few days as you monitor the progression of their illness.

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

Diagnosing kennel cough is essentially a process of elimination. There are a number of more serious conditions that share the symptoms of kennel cough, as such your vet will examine your pet for signs of a 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.

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

Adult dogs that would otherwise be considered healthy are generally quite easy to treat for kennel cough. Your veterinarian may decide that no medications are required to treat this illness and that, in fact, the best treatment is for your companion to rest while their infection runs its course.

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 what 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.

How To Protect Your Dog Against Kennel Cough

If your dog regularly spends time with other dogs, ask your veterinarian about vaccinating your pup against kennel cough. While this vaccine can be hugely helpful in preventing the development of kennel cough in dogs, it is not a 100% guarantee of prevention since this illness can have its root cause in many 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 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 Companion Animal Hospital to book an examination for your four-legged friend!

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