Kennel cough is terrifying! When Miles had it, I was so freaked out. I noticed it a few hours after I picked him up from the animal shelter. Let me tell you, it’s unnerving to hear your dog constantly hacking or making sounds as if he’s choking. In many cases, though, it’s simply a case of kennel cough. In this scenario, “simply” means that it is a relatively minor condition. Although it is an upper respiratory infection, many times it will clear up on its own.
Today, we’re going to talk about kennel cough, what it is, how to prevent it, and how to treat it should your dog contract it.
What is Kennel Cough
Kennel cough is a contagious, upper respiratory infection that is spread from one infected dog to another. The most common cause of the infection is bordetella bronchispectica m, which is why you’ll most often hear Bordatella used when talking about the infection.
Dogs catch this infection from other infected dogs by breathing in bacteria or virus particles into their respiratory tract. These particles are deposited into the are by infected dogs coughing.
The respiratory tract is lined with a coating of mucous to help protect dogs against infection, however, some factors can weaken this protection, making a dog more susceptible to the virus.
Factors which can make a dog more susceptible to kennel cough include:
- Chronic disease
- Decreased immune system function
- Crowded or poorly ventilated areas like kennels or shelters
- Cold temperatures
- Exposure to dust or cigarette smoke
Kennel Cough Symptoms
Classic symptoms include a chronic, persistent, and forceful cough. This cough is often described as a “goose honk”. Some dogs also exhibit sneezing, runny nose, or eye discharge.
Usually, a dog won’t lose his appetite or energy levels due to the illness unless it is a serious infection.
Kennel cough will usually resolve itself without treatment in an otherwise healthy dog, however dogs with decreased immune function, elderly dogs, or dog who have a history of respiratory issues might require supportive care to resolve the infection.
The most common treatment for the infection is antibiotics which target bordetella bacteria used in conjunction with cough medicines. At home, using a humidifier helps keep the dog’s respiratory tract moist and speed healing. It’s a good idea to use a harness instead of a collar as well to reduce irritation, especially if your dog is a puller.
The old saying “an ounce of treatment is worth a pound of cure” holds true when it comes to kennel cough. All dogs should have a bordetella vaccine as part of their vaccine schedule. It’s the easiest way to prevent the illness, saving your dog discomfort and saving you money. It’s an incredibly easy prevention tool to keep your dog healthy, happy, and out of the vet’s office.
It’s important to note, as well, that prevention is vital for another reason. Although this infection typically resolves on its own, it can lead to serious complications in older dogs or dogs with a decreased immune function. The most notable of these is pneumonia. It’s far better to vaccinate your dog that try to treat him later.
See Your Vet for Prevention and Treatment
In general, kennel cough will resolve itself on its own, but it’s still important to take your dog to the vet if he shows any symptoms of the infection. This is especially true if your dog is older, has a decreased immune system, or has had the bordetella vaccine.
Always include the recommended bordetella vaccine in your dog’s healthcare, and take him to the vet should he show any symptoms. If you do that, you should have no issues with kennel cough.