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

Posted Jan 27th, 2022

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

Is your dog experiencing a dry non-productive cough? Our Sacramento vets share information about the highly contagious Kennel Cough and what to do if your dog is suffering from this respiratory disease. 

What is Kennel Cough?

Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis, better known as kennel cough, is a respiratory disease that is most commonly seen in dogs. Kennel cough is typically caused by the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria and canine parainfluenza virus.

This virus attacks the lining of the dog's respiratory tract and causes inflammation and irritation of the pup's upper airway. If you have a healthy canine companion this virus is entirely manageable. Unfortunately, for young puppies, senior dogs, or dogs with a weakened immune system this condition can lead to more serious secondary infections.

Kennel cough is extremely contagious and spreads most easily in places with a high density of pets that are typically close together such as kennels, dog parks, or homes with more than one dog. This is how the name for Kennel Cough came to be. It is spread through contact with the droplets released through the cough of an infected dog. This can either be through direct contact with an infected dog or through contact with objects that the infected dog has been using, such as toys, blankets, or bowls.

Kennel Cough Symptoms in Dogs

As the name suggests the main symptom of Kennel Cough is a persistent dry cough that might sound a bit like a honk from a goose or as though your pup was choking on something. Other signs of kennel cough in dogs can include runny nose, sneezing, lack of energy, decreased appetite, and mild fever.

If you are concerned that your dog may be infected with Kennel Cough it is recommended to keep your dog from having contact with other dogs as it is highly contagious. If your dog is experiencing mild symptoms then you should allow them to rest for a few days while isolating. If your dog's symptoms are more severe from the start or increasingly more severe as the days pass then we suggest booking an appointment to have your pet examined. 

How Kennel Cough is Diagnosed

Sometimes the easiest way to diagnose Kennel Cough is through the process of elimination. There are many other conditions and diseases, some more serious, that have similar symptoms to Kennel Cough. Due to this your vet will examine your pet for signs that they might be suffering from a collapsing trachea, heartworm disease, bronchitis, asthma, cancer, heart disease, or other ailment. Canine distemper virus or canine influenza virus can also cause similar symptoms to Kennel Cough. 

Once your vet has completed a thorough examination and medical history they will be able to diagnose whether it is in fact Kennel Cough that your dog is suffering from and make suggestions on how to manage the virus and its symptoms.

How to Treat Kennel Cough in Dogs

As long as your dog is good and healthy your vet may very well determine that no medications are necessary and that the best treatment for your dog is to rest as much as possible while their body fights the infection

Your vet may prescribe antibiotics If your dog is experiencing more severe symptoms in order to help prevent secondary infections or other medications or solutions to provide your pup with some relief from the persistent coughing.

While your pet is recovering we recommend avoiding anything that may constrict your dog's airways. A humidifier in the rooms where your dog spends the most time might also be a great option, as this can help to relieve your dog's symptoms.

Most dogs recover from kennel cough within a week or two. If your pup's symptoms persist for longer a follow-up veterinary appointment is essential. In some cases, kennel cough can lead to pneumonia.

Protecting Your Dog Against Kennel Cough

If your dog frequently spends time in kennels or visiting with other pups it might be a good idea to have them vaccinated again Kennel Cough. While this vaccine may help to prevent kennel cough it is not a 100% prevention since kennel cough can be caused by a number of different 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 people or pets. If you are concerned about your pet's health, contact your veterinarian right away for diagnosis and treatment.

Are you concerned that your dog might have contracted a virus? Contact your vet at Elkhorn-Walerga Animal Hospital today to book an appointment for your pet.

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Elkhorn-Walerga Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Sacramento companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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