What is Kennel Cough?
Kennel Cough (Infectious Tracheobronchitis) is an upper respiratory infection that mostly affects dogs but can occasionally affect cats. It is caused by both bacteria and a virus. The most common infectious agent is Bordetella Bronchisepta. Kennel cough is actually a mix of infections rather than infection by one agent. A kennel cough may be mild enough to not warrant treatment, or it may be serious enough to progress to pneumonia, depending on the immunological strength of the pet and what bacterium and viruses are involved. Either way, the coughing is enough to keep both you and your pet awake at night.
Signs of Kennel Cough
Clinical signs usually develop within 3-5 days after initial exposure. They are generally mild. The most common sign that is reported is a dry, hacking cough that may sound like something is stuck in the throat. Sometimes some nasal discharge may be present. They are generally healthy. Otherwise, no fevers or lethargy noted. It may not sound like more than just a common cold, but it can take a toll on your pet! If you suspect kennel cough, especially if you feel there is listlessness and/or a fever involved, contact your veterinarian and keep your pet isolated from other pets.
How Does Kennel Cough Spread?
Kennel cough is highly contagious and most commonly occurs where groups of dogs are together. Think kennels, dog parks, doggy daycares, groomers, etc. An infected dog sheds bacterium and/or viruses into the air. These airborne secretions float around until they are inhaled by a healthy dog. It can also spread through direct contact or by contaminated objects, such as bowls, toys, sticks. The normal respiratory tract has safeguards to protect themselves from infectious agents, but they can be damaged by simple things like cold temperatures, poor ventilation, heavy dust exposure, stresses from over-crowding or moving, cigarette smoke, or infectious agents. When they are damaged, it is much easier for bacteria and/or viruses to invade. The Bordetella bronchiseptica organisms are tricky themselves. They bind directly to the cilia in the respiratory tract, rendering them unable to move the debris up and out. They also secrete debris that disables the immune cells responsible for destroying bacteria. Bordetella is often accompanied by other infectious agents so that makes it a mix of infections rather than one infectious agent causing havoc on your poor pets respiratory tract.
How Long Does Kennel Cough Last?
Most dogs recover within 1-2 weeks, although it can sometimes take up to 6 weeks for a full recovery. Your pet can still be a carrier of the disease several weeks after he/she has recovered.
Diagnoses and Treatment Of Kennel Cough
If you suspect your dog has kennel cough, isolate them immediately. Call your veterinarian and book an appointment if you think your pet is having a difficult time with the coughing. While waiting for your appointment, wait in the car if you can until your room opens up. Remember, it is extremely contagious and we see a lot of puppies who are just building up their immunities and a lot of sick or elderly dogs whose immunities are little to non-existent. A coughing dog that has no appetite, has a fever, and is listless should be evaluated by a veterinarian. Whether a pet has those specific signs or not, the Veterinarian will do a complete physical exam, including listening to the lungs and upper airway. They will check the temperature of your pet and in extreme cases will recommend radiographs of the chest to make sure pneumonia is not present. Most cases of
Whether a pet has those specific signs or not, the veterinarian will do a complete physical exam, including listening to the lungs and upper airway. They will check the temperature of your pet and in extreme cases will recommend radiographs of the chest to make sure pneumonia is not present. Most cases of kennel cough will go away on their own although sometimes a veterinarian will prescribe a cough suppressant to help control the coughing. In cases that are a little more severe, antibiotics, steroids and/or pain medications may be prescribed. One thing you can do for your pet at home is restrict activity-kennel rest. Remember, the more they run around, the more irritated the throat gets and the more they cough and become uncomfortable. If the condition does not improve on it’s own, have the Veterinarian re-assess your pet. There may be an underlying concern.
Bordetella Bronceseptica helps protect the dog from the Bordetella bacteria but since kennel cough is a mix-up of different bacterium and viruses they can still contract kennel cough. Vaccinating decreases the risk of contracting but does not totally eliminate it. It is like the flu vaccine for humans, it helps protetect against it but you can still contract the flu. The vaccine comes in different forms, intra-nasal (into the nose), intra-oral (into the mouth) and an injection and you can get the vaccine done at the same time as they are getting their other vaccines. Boosters for the vaccine are given annually. If you know your dog will be going to dog parks, daycare, kennels, groomers, etc. it is a good idea to get the vaccine done to do everything you can to help them from contracting kennel cough. No one likes to spend their days and nights coughing and not feeling their best!
That is pretty much the scoop on the issue of Kennel Cough! Feel free to contact us if you have any more questions or if you suspect your poor pet has caught it. We are here to help!
This blog was written with the help of information gathered from VeterinaryPartner.com
Written by Jill Thiessen, Office Manager