A dry hacking cough is one of the most recognizable signs of kennel cough in dogs. Here, our Natick vets explain how you can recognize kennel cough in dogs and the steps you should take if your dog starts coughing.
Kennel Cough In Dogs
Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis (often referred to as kennel cough) is a respiratory disease that is relatively common in dogs. In most cases, kennel cough is caused by the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria and canine parainfluenza virus that attacks the lining of the dog's respiratory tract, causing inflammation and irritation in the dog's upper airway. In the majority of cases, this illness isn't serious for dogs that are otherwise healthy, but it can result in more serious secondary infections in young puppies, senior dogs, or dogs that have weakened immune systems.
The phrase "kennel cough" stems from the highly contagious character of this condition, which makes it spread rapidly in places where pets are in close proximity to each other, such as in kennels, dog parks, and multi-dog homes. Kennel cough spreads when dogs come in contact with the droplets released from an infected dog's cough. This can be through direct contact with the infected dog or through contact with objects that the infected droplets have landed on such as dog toys, bowls, cages, or blankets.
Common Symptoms of Kennel Cough in Dogs
The primary symptom of kennel cough is a non-productive, persistent, dry cough that can often sound like a goose honk or as if your pup has something stuck in their throat. Dogs with kennel cough can also develop symptoms such as a runny nose, sneezing, lack of energy, decreased appetite, and mild fever.
If your pooch is exhibiting symptoms of kennel cough, keep them separated from other dogs and call your vet immediately to get advice.
Because this condition is incredibly contagious, if your dog is otherwise healthy and only showing mild symptoms, your vet might recommend keeping your dog isolated from your other pets and letting them rest for several days as you monitor their symptoms.
However, if your pup's symptoms are more serious your vet may suggest bringing your dog in for a physical examination.
Diagnosing Dogs With Kennel Cough
Diagnosing kennel cough is basically a process of elimination. There are a handful of other more serious conditions that share the same symptoms as kennel cough. Therefore, your vet will examine your pooch for signs of collapsing trachea, heartworm disease, bronchitis, asthma, cancer, heart disease, and more. Coughing may also be a sign of the canine distemper virus or canine influenza virus.
Depending on the results of your pup's exam as well as their medical history, your vet will determine if your dog's symptoms are being caused by kennel cough.
How Dogs Are Treated For Kennel Cough
Kennel cough is generally easy to treat in adult dogs that are otherwise healthy. Your vet might determine that your dog doesn't need medications and that the best treatment for them is rest while the infection runs its course (very similar to the human cold).
If your pup is suffering from more severe symptoms, your vet may prescribe antibiotics to help prevent secondary infections or cough suppressants to provide your pooch with some relief from their persistent coughing.
As your dog recovers, you should ideally avoid using neck collars and use a body harness instead when taking your dog for walks. You could also turn on a humidifier in rooms your dog spends a lot of time in, as this could help alleviate some of your dog's symptoms.
Most dogs recover from kennel cough in one or two weeks. If your pup's symptoms continue for longer than this, it's imperative to bring them back to the vet for a follow-up appointment. In some cases, kennel cough can cause pneumonia.
Preventing Kennel Cough In Dogs
If your furry friend often spends time around other dogs we recommend asking your vet about the kennel cough vaccine. While this vaccination can help prevent kennel cough, it doesn't offer 100% prevention because kennel cough can be caused by various different pathogens.
Three forms of the vaccine are available including an 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 pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.