What is kennel cough?
Infectious canine tracheobronchitis (kennel cough) is a highly contagious, infectious disease that can be cause by a variety of viruses, bacteria, mycoplasmas and fungi. The two most common organisms that cause KC are canine parainfluenza virus and Bordatella bronchisepta (an infectious bacteria). These are highly contagious organisms that are easily spread through aerosolised respiratory secretions, such as cough or sneeze droplets which travel through the air to infect other dogs in the vicinity.
These infections spread rapidly amongst dogs in close confinement such as kennels, hence the name “kennel cough”
How will I know if my dog has kennel cough?
A typical symptom of KC is a dry, hacking cough often referred to as “goose honking”. Other symptoms may include retching, sneezing, snorting, gagging and even vomiting after a coughing episode. Should your dog be coughing or show and of the above mentioned symptoms, you will need to take your dog to a vet for treatment.
Your vet may press lightly on your dog’s trachea (wind pipe) which may cause your dog to elicit a dry, hacking cough. This is a typical finding in dogs that have KC, although not diagnostic. Some dogs may have a fever and be reluctant to eat their food. Your vet may also suspect KC if your dog has recently spent time at the kennels, however your dog does not necessarily have to have been at a kennels to pick up one of the infectious viruses or bacteria that cause kennel cough.
What treatment will my dog need?
Most Kennel Cough cases are caused by viruses, although affected dogs are often secondarily infected with bacteria due to their immune systems being compromised.
Although most dogs presented with Kennel Cough have viral infections, it may be difficult to ascertain whether the infection is caused by a virus, bacteria or combination of the 2. For this reason your vet may decide to to place your dog on a course of antibiotics as a part of the treatment. This disease may last between 7-14 days. If you have other dogs at home, they may also become infected and require a visit to the vet to be examined and placed on medication.
Your vet may also use anti-tussives which are medications intended to ease your dog’s coughing. Often dogs will also requite anti-inflammatory medications to decrease the inflammation in the upper respiratory tract.
How can I prevent my dog from getting kennel cough?
Many different types of vaccinations aimed at preventing Kennel Cough are available. Some protect your dog from viruses that cause kennel cough while others will protect from the bacteria, Bordatella bronchisepta, that cause Kennel Cough.
Should your dog need to spend any time at a kenneling facility, it is advisable to get your best friend vaccinated.