If your dog is exposed to other dogs in kennels, doggy daycare or at dog parks, there is a real chance that you could experience dogs and kennel cough. It is very easily transmitted from infected dogs.
What Is Kennel Cough
Kennel cough is also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis. It is a highly contagious respiratory infection that can be viral, bacterial or both. It will cause inflammation of the dog’s voice box and windpipe. It is similar to bronchitis or a chest cold in humans.
The majority of cases are a combination of both Bordetalla bacterium and infectious viruses known as Canine Distemper of Canine Influenza. The viruses will weaken the dog’s immune system, making your dog more susceptible to Bordetella.
Dogs most frequently catch kennel cough in areas where large amounts of dogs gather. This can include when boarding your dog in a kennel, dog parks, doggy daycare, dog training groups, dog groomers or your veterinarian’s office.
Your dog can catch kennel cough when they inhale bacteria or virus particles into their respiratory tract. The bacteria or virus can be spread from an infected dog coughing, sneezing, barking or even shedding dander. This will release thousands of contaminates into the air that can remain viable for up to 2 weeks on tiny dust particles.
It can spread through the air and direct contact of dogs touching noses, greeting each other, or sniffing butts.
Kennel cough can also be transmitted from hard surfaces. This can include shared water or food bowls, toys, sticks and even a fire hydrant. It can survive on hard surfaces for up to 48 hours.
You will notice your dog showing symptoms 5-10 days after being exposed to kennel cough. An infected dog can be contagious up to 14 weeks after initially getting infected.
Young dogs and unvaccinated dogs are at the highest risk for contracting kennel cough, but older dogs and dogs with a poor immune system are also at risk.
Symptoms Of Kennel Cough For Dogs
The most common and easiest symptom of kennel cough to detect is the cough that sounds similar to a goose honking. It will be a persistent, forceful cough. It can sound like your dog is choking or a dry hacking cough. The video lets you hear what kennel cough sounds like.
You might also notice your dog gagging, coughing up white foamy phlegm, they could have a slight fever, some nasal discharge, sneezing, lethargic if symptoms are real bad, loss of appetite, runny nose, runny eyes, and eye discharge.
If your dog has nasal discharge, is breathing rapidly, refuses to eat or is lethargic, take your dog back to your veterinarian. Extreme cases can lead to pneumonia if they aren’t properly treated.
Prevention Of Kennel Cough
There are 3 types of vaccines that you can give your dog to help prevent kennel cough. All of them would be administered by your veterinarian. They can receive an injection, the nasal mist or given to them orally.
The vaccination will help protect your dog from the Bordetalla bacteria, but they do not guarantee protection because there are so many different kinds of bacteria and viruses.
The vaccines will not treat active infections. They only help prior to your dog getting infected. Most vaccines will usually be given in 2 doses, 2-4 weeks apart with a booster given 6 months to a year later.
Your dog should receive their vaccination at least 5 days prior to being exposed to areas that could potentially have kennel cough.
Never board your dog or take your dog to a daycare facility that doesn’t require the Bordetalla vaccination. The risk is too great for your dog to get infected with kennel cough. Most kennels won’t board your dog without proof of vaccination.
Kennel cough is regularly found where dogs are exposed to crowded or poorly ventilated conditions. These conditions are many times found in kennels and shelters.
Treatment Of Kennel Cough
Although kennel cough sounds horrible, most times it is not a serious condition and most dogs will recover without treatment. Medicine may speed up the recovery or minimize the symptoms.
Antibiotics that target Bordetella bacteria can be effective in treating your dog, but chances are that your dog could also have a virus that will just take time to heal.
Your veterinarian might also prescribe a cough medicine to help give you and your dog some relief. You can also give your dog over-the-counter Robitussin. It is identical to the drugs that you will receive from your vet. You should contact your vet for the recommended dosage.
One to two weeks rest for your dog with limiting strenuous activity. Most dogs will completely recover within 3 weeks, but could take up to 6 weeks in older dogs or dogs with other medical conditions.
You can help provide some relief for your dog by providing an area that is well-humidified or by running a vaporizer.
If your dog pulls when walking, I suggest using a harness instead of their collar. The collar can cause irritation to your dog’s throat if they are pulling and have tension on the collar.
Kennel cough is very contagious, so if you have other dogs, try to separate them immediately or you will end up treating 2 or more dogs for kennel cough. If you aren’t able to keep them separate, at the bare minimum, make sure they are using separate bowls for drinking and eating and no sharing of toys.
If you plan on letting your dog interact with other dogs, it is important that you help protect them by having them protected with the Bordetella vaccine to help prevent dogs and kennel cough. It is also important that you don’t let your dog share water or food bowls with other dogs.
Take extra care protecting your dog during the summer. Kennel cough increases by 44% in the summer months.
Most kennel cough infections can cure themselves within 3 weeks, but you should contact your veterinarian when you believe your dog may have contracted kennel cough for their recommendations on the best treatment plan for your dog.
Good news, humans can not catch kennel cough.
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