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

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

Kennel cough or Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis can cause dry cough, sneezing, a runny nose and other symptoms in your dog. Our Zeeland vets discuss signs of kennel cough in dogs, how it's diagnosed and treated and which steps to take if your pooch contracts this condition that generally isn't serious for healthy dogs. 

What is Kennel Cough in Dogs?

Often called kennel cough, Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis is a canine respiratory disease. Kennel cough is typically caused by the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica and the canine parainfluenza virus, both of which attack the lining of a dog's respiratory tract. This can lead to inflammation and irritation.

While the condition generally isn't serious for dogs that are otherwise healthy, it can cause more serious secondary infections in senior dogs, young puppies, or dogs with a weakened immune system. 

A highly contagious marker of this illness is a dry cough that spreads quickly in areas where pets interact closely with one another, such as dog parks, multi-dog households and kennels. 

When dogs come into contact with droplets released through an infected dog's cough, they can catch the illness. This may occur through direct contact with an infected dog or via objects that infected droplets have landed on, such as cages, blankets, bowls or dog toys. 

Kennel Cough Symptoms in Dogs

This dry, non-productive cough is persistent and often sounds similar to a goose honk, or as if your dog has an object stuck in their throat. Other symptoms of kennel cough in dogs may include sneezing, a runny nose, lack of energy and appetite and mild fever. 

Because this condition is incredibly contagious, if your dog is displaying any of the symptoms above we recommend ensuring they are separated from other dogs in your home and contacting your vet right away for advice. 

If your pup is otherwise healthy and showing only mild symptoms, your vet may recommend isolating them from other pets and making sure your pet gets several days' rest while you monitor their symptoms. 

Your veterinarian may ask you to bring your dog in for an exam if they have more severe symptoms. 

Diagnosing Dogs with Kennel Cough

Essentially, vets use a process of elimination to diagnose a dog with kennel cough, since this illness shares symptoms with several more serious conditions. 

Your Zeeland veterinarian will examine your dog for heartworm disease, cancer, heart disease, asthma, bronchitis, a collapsing trachea, and more. Coughing can also point to canine distemper virus or canine influenza virus. 

Your veterinarian will determine whether kennel cough is the probable cause of your dog's symptoms based on your pet's medical history and the results of their exam. 

How Kennel Cough in Dogs is Treated

It's usually easy to treat healthy adult dogs for kennel cough. Your vet may decide that no medications are required and that the best treatment for your dog is to rest while the infection runs its course (much like the human cold).

Are your dog's symptoms more severe? Your veterinarian might prescribe antibiotics to help prevent secondary infections or cough suppressants to give your pooch a bit of relief from the continuous coughing.

As your dog recovers, it's best to avoid the use of neck collars and use a body harness instead when you are taking them for walks. You might also want to run a humidifier in rooms where your dog spends most of their time because it could help alleviate their symptoms.

It generally takes one or two weeks for dogs to recover from kennel cough. If your canine companion's symptoms continue for longer than this it's essential to schedule a follow-up appointment with your vet. Sometimes, kennel cough can result in pneumonia.

Preventing Kennel Cough in Dogs

If your dog spends a fair amount of time around other dogs talk to your vet about getting your pooch vaccinated against kennel cough. While this vaccine could help prevent kennel cough it doesn't offer 100% prevention because kennel cough could be caused by various 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.

Are you concerned about a dry cough or other symptoms your dog has developed? Contact our Zeeland vets to book an appointment for your pet.

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