Kennel Cough – What You Need To Know

kennel cough

Sometimes known as Bordetella, Kennel Cough is a bacteria-induced cough that often results in a viral infection. Bordetella bronchiseptica is one of the bacterium that causes the cough, which is why its aforementioned name is included. A severe cough is a long-term development, while symptoms of eye discharge and sneezing are often around for only a short time.

What Symptoms are Common?

The most common associated symptom to kennel cough is a persistent cough. It can last for weeks or longer if not treated. The cough may even sound like a honk from a goose, and comes from deep within the throat. This develops due to an irritated throat and post-nasal drip.

Are There Uncommon Symptoms?

Some dogs with kennel cough may seem like they have a typical human cold. This could mean a runny nose, uncontrollable sneezing, and even discharge coming from the eyes.

Dogs may experience vomiting if there is too much pressure placed on their trachea. It is advised to use a dog harness, rather than a typical collar. This limits the amount of pressure placed on the neck’s dog. Dogs may also gag in these instances.

What Causes Kennel Cough in Dogs?

Kennel cough develops when dogs breathe in bacteria. These particles make their way into a dog’s respiratory system, and wreak havoc. A virus can even develop if virus particles are breathed in as well. The larynx becomes inflamed, as does the trachea.

Dogs with a weakened system are more susceptible to this cough. When there is no proper air ventilation, it makes it more difficult for dogs to breathe as intended. This is usually the case with animal shelters.

Cold temperatures also prove harsh on a dog’s system. This is the most common time that kennel cough is heard.

Dust is another common cause. Too much dust gets breathed in, with bacteria along with it. Smoke is also to blame, meaning cigarette smokers should keep away from their pets while they’re partaking in the activity.

The final cause for a weakening respiratory system is stress. This is often travel induced, such as for dogs that travel frequently with their owners. They may go from place to place, experiencing a multitude of different air qualities in a short time period.

Is Kennel Cough Contagious?

Kennel cough is actually contagious, as the infected dog comes into contact with another and emits bacteria in their vicinity. This can cause the other animal to breathe in the same virus particles and become infected themselves.

Because the infection is contagious, it is important for owners to keep their dog away from others while they are infected. Once the infection passes and no further symptoms are noticed, the dog may resume playing with others.

What is the Diagnosis?

sick dog

Diagnosing kennel cough is typically easy, as most other illnesses do not exhibit the same signs. There are a few varying types of coughs a dog can get though, meaning some tests may be necessary to help verify that kennel cough is in fact the culprit.

Bacterial cultures and blood work are two of the common ways to test for signs of kennel cough. X-rays may also be needed to confirm bronchitis. These tests pinpoint the exact bacteria causing the cough so correct antibiotics can be prescribed if necessary.

What is the Prognosis?

Kennel cough is often resolved after several weeks. Dogs simply go through cold symptoms, and return to normal afterward. It is not a deadly disease, and typically does not have any long-lasting effects on the body.

A worse prognosis is available when the cough does not resolve on its own, and pneumonia develops. Pneumonia is a serious illness that can result in death if left untreated.

How is Kennel Cough Treated?

In most instances, the cough is resolved on its own. The dog must allow time for the bacteria to leave its system and the virus to pass. Younger dogs may stop showing signs after three weeks, while older dogs take up to six to recover.

When dogs are not showing signs of improvement on their own, then further action is required. If left untreated, the cough can become ever more severe, leading to pneumonia.

Dogs that experience fast breathing or have trouble eating may be showing signs of a more serious problem. They require immediate treatment in these instances.

Antibiotics are another option. These can work to fight the Bordetella virus and allow the dog to heal from the sickness faster. Symptoms may be lessened with the help of medications as well.

Living with Kennel Cough

Kennel cough typically takes several weeks to run its course. This can leave a dog coughing and sneezing for weeks on end.

Dogs experiencing kennel cough will have to stay away from other pets and be kept on their own. This can mean some time of loneliness. Their owners are not capable of catching the cough though, so they can keep their pets company while the virus makes it way through the dog’s system.

Prevention Suggestions

Vaccines are available for kennel cough. This can help limit the chances of the infection occurring. It will not stop a case of kennel cough that is already ongoing though. The vaccine comes in three types so each owner can decide the best way for their dog to take it. A nasal spray, injection, and dose taken by mouth are all offered.

These vaccines are recommended annually. Dogs that are more susceptible to the cough should receive the vaccination twice a year instead. The nasal spray and oral medication are said to work faster than the injection.

Keeping the home humidified is also a valid option. Since a poorly circulated room can weaken a dog’s ability to breathe correctly, using a humidifier in the dog’s most commonly used room may help.

Since the illness is contagious, it is also wise to keep pets away from any dogs that are known to have the cough, or have shown developing signs. This reduces the risk of coming in contact with a dog who has the infection and does not allow it to spread further.