Is your dog being plagued by a dry non-productive cough? If so, it could be Kennel Cough. Today our Ankeny vets share some facts about this highly contagious respiratory disease in dogs and talk about when you should get your dog vaccinated.
What is kennel cough?
Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis, better known as kennel cough, is a respiratory disease that is commonly seen in dogs. Kennel cough is often caused by the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria and canine parainfluenza virus which attack the lining of the dog's respiratory tract and lead to inflammation and irritation of the pup's upper airway. 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.
Why should I get my dog vaccinated against Kennel Cough?
While the kennel cough vaccine is an optional vaccination, rather than a core vaccination, many doggy daycares, dog parks, or obedience classes will require your dog to be vaccinated against kennel cough to take part.
Simple respiratory infections can easily evolve into dangerous and life-threatening conditions, so in order to protect your dog and the dogs with whom they frequently socialize, it's best practice to add the kennel cough shot to their preventative care plan.
If you intend to enroll your dog in any kind of program outside the home or to be a regular at your local dog park, you should ask your vet about the kennel cough shot for your dog.
The vaccine greatly reduces the chance of Bordetella in dogs. Furthermore, while not 100% effective in preventing infection, the vaccine is guaranteed to decrease the likelihood of serious symptoms or life-threatening complications should a dog vaccinated against kennel cough contract an infection.
What are kennel cough symptoms in dogs?
A hacking, non-productive, persistent dry cough that sounds somewhat like a goose honk is the primary symptom of kennel cough. Other signs of kennel cough in dogs can include runny nose, sneezing, lack of energy, decreased appetite and mild fever.
If your pup is showing signs of kennel cough keep your pet away from other dogs and contact your vet right away for advice.
Due to 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.
How do vets diagnose kennel cough in dogs?
The diagnosis of 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.
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.
How is kennel cough treated?
If your dog is otherwise healthy, kennel cough can be easy to treat. Your vet may decide that no medications are required and that the best treatment for your dog is rest while the infection runs its course (much like the human cold).
Dogs experiencing more severe symptoms may be prescribed antibiotics to help prevent secondary infections or cough suppressants to provide your pup with some relief from the persistent coughing.
As your pooch is recovering it is 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.
The majority of dogs with kennel cough recover 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.
Can I prevent my dog from developing kennel cough?
If your dog regularly spends time with other dogs ask your vet about vaccinating your pet against kennel cough. While this vaccine may help to prevent kennel cough it is not a 100% prevention since kennel cough can be caused by a number of 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.