Kennel Cough

AKA Canine Cough

Kennel (canine) Cough

Canine infectious tracheobronchitis (kennel cough) is one of the most common infectious diseases of dogs. It is highly contagious and may be caused by a variety of infectious organisms. Most infections [80-90%] are caused by a bacterial infection of the respiratory tract by the organism Bordatella bronchiseptica. Compare this with the human, whooping Cough caused by Bordatella Pertusis and you can understand how your dog feels. So in reality it is dog whooping cough. The other 10-20% of cases can be due to viral agents such as parainfluenza virus, adeno and canine distemper virus. Kennel cough can also be caused by a combination of these different organisms. Most infections are mild and self-limiting, resolving on their own within 1 to 2 weeks. In a small number of cases, more serious organisms may colonise and lead to pneumonia

Signs to look for

A dry, hacking, spasmodic, "goose-honking" cough is most often noted. After coughing dogs may produce clear or discoloured phlegm, sometimes mistaken for vomiting
Many clients report that they think something is stuck in their dog’s throat. If you are thinking along these lines, then think kennel cough
History of exposure to other dogs (boarding kennel, hospital or dog show situation)- Most develop symptoms 3-5 days after being exposed

Beware, during tick season dogs that appear to have kennel cough could well have early signs of tick poisoning, so always search for a tick

At the veterinary hospital

Your veterinarian will diagnose kennel cough on the basis of your pet’s exposure to other dogs, vaccination status, tracheal reaction to touch (harsh coughing with mild pressure to the throat). Depending on how serious their condition is, they may choose to do nothing and advise rest and isolation, treat with antibiotics, cough medicine or use bronchodilators. These treatments are given to make it easier for your pet to breathe and to prevent more serious complications. It is best to keep your pet well rested and isolated to prevent other dogs catching the disease. Excitement often brings on a fit of coughing. It is most likely that your pet will recover within 2 weeks. If it progressively gets worse, the vets may want to perform diagnostic tests such as a complete blood count, chest X-rays, and laboratory analysis of the microorganisms in your dogs airways or consider other non-infectious diseases eg heart failure, cancer

How can I prevent my dog from getting sick with kennel cough

Vaccinate yearly- Puppies can be vaccinated up the nose as early as 2 to 4 weeks of age and then annually OR they can have the vaccine injected twice, at 12 weeks of age and again at 16 weeks of age and then annually. Puppies should always be vaccinated as they can get very sick from kennel cough
Adults should be vaccinated every year. Unfortunately no vaccination is 100% protective and there is no guarantee that your animal will not get kennel cough. However, vaccination helps to minimise the severity of the disease if contracted

Avoid contact with infected/ previously infected dogs

Boarding kennels will often request to see documentation regarding a dog's vaccination status. The reason for this is that the moist, shared environment of kennels is the perfect place for the bacteria to colonise. It is important to remember that dogs that have recovered from the disease can harbour the organism in their respiratory tract for up to 3 months and spread it to your dog. Make sure you don't share bowls, bedding, leads between infected and non-infected dogs