If you own a dog or a puppy, at one point or another you may have to leave them in a kennel, at the groomers or the animal hospital at some point in their lives. The exposure to other dogs exposes them to viruses that may cause your pooch to develop kennel cough. Kennel cough, also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is a highly contagious, acute respiratory disease that affects dogs and can infect your dog even if your dog hasn’t been in a kennel.
Kennel cough is caused by any of a group of viruses including Bordetella Bronchiseptica, Parainfluenza and Cainine Adenovirus -Type 2. Your dog can be infected by one of these viruses any time your dog is near another infected dog, even if only for a short time because it is contagious and the tiny particles are in the air and are easily breathed in. The newer canine influenza virus is now in a few places and can cause a more severe illness in your dog than the kennel cough. There is a new vaccine available for that virus but it is not as common place as the kennel cough viruses. It may take four to ten days after being exposed to the virus before your dog develops any symptoms of kennel cough. Your dog’s best defense against this disease is a strong immune system and preventative vaccinations.
How can you tell if your dog has kennel cough? Dogs with kennel cough develop a dry, hacking, or non-productive cough (they do not cough up mucous or fluids). The cough can be quite severe and the more they cough, the more the throat gets irritated and the more they cough. The cough can last a short time or up to several minutes and can occur quite often throughout the day and may keep you up at night.
If your dog develops a hacking cough, a trip to the veterinarian may be warranted. Your veterinarian will then perform an exam and rule out other problems that can cause the cough, such as an infected tooth, heartworms, distemper, canine influenza or perhaps a heart murmur. In most dogs with kennel cough, the cough can be triggered with gentle pressure on the trachea, the throat area just under the collar.
As with most viral infections, antibiotics are not be effective in treating this illness. Antibiotics are only used if there is a secondary infection because the coughing can cause an irritation and resident bacteria may set up housekeeping. Your veterinarian will decide if the cough is indeed kennel cough and not something more serious. If it is kennel cough, it may take up to two weeks, just like the common cold, to make its way out of your dog’s system. Your veterinarian may prescribe a cough suppressant to help calm the cough.
You may have more than one dog in your family. If so, try to keep the one with kennel cough separated from the others. Of course, as contagious as this is, your other dogs will probably already have been infected before you realize it. Treat each of them, whether they’re displaying symptoms or not, and you’re sure to be rid of kennel cough soon.
The best way to prevent kennel cough is with vaccinations. We recommend the bordetella vaccine every year with the annual vaccinations and a quick booster vaccine prior to your dog boarding. Remember, that going to the groomers, a pet store or dog park can also expose your pet to viruses and diseases from other dogs.