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

If your dog has kennel cough, they may have a dry cough and feel uncomfortable. Today, our Riverside vets share some facts regarding kennel cough in dogs and the steps to take if your pooch contracts the condition. 

What is Kennel Cough in Dogs?

Often referred to as kennel cough, canine infectious tracheobronchitis is a respiratory disease that's often diagnosed in dogs. Kennel cough is typically caused by the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica and the canine parainfluenza virus, which attacks the lining of a dog's respiratory tract. This can cause irritation and inflammation. For otherwise healthy dogs, this condition generally isn't serious. 

That said, it may cause more serious secondary infections in young puppies, dogs with a weakened immune system or geriatric dogs

The term kennel cough originates from the highly contagious character of this illness, which causes it to spread quickly in areas where pets come into close contact with one another. These sites include dog parks, multi-dog households and kennels. When dogs come into contact with droplets released through the cough of an infected dog, the disease spreads. This can occur through direct contact with the infected dog or through contact with objects that the infected droplets have landed on, which may include blankets, cages or dog toys. 

Kennel Cough Symptoms in Dogs

Owners of dogs with kennel cough may notice a persistent, non-productive dry cough that sounds much like a goose honk, or if your dog has something stuck in their throat. Other symptoms of kennel cough in dogs may include sneezing, a runny nose, lack of energy and appetite and mild fever. 

If your dog displays any of these symptoms, separate them from other dogs in your home and contact your vet right away for advice, as this condition is highly contagious. 

If your dog is otherwise healthy and only displaying mild symptoms, your veterinarian may recommend ensuring they remain isolated from other pets and that they have plenty of rest as you monitor their symptoms. 

However, if your dog is exhibiting more severe symptoms, your vet may have you bring them to the office for an exam. 

Diagnosing Dogs With Kennel Cough

Diagnosing kennel cough is essentially a process of elimination. Several more serious conditions share the symptoms of kennel cough, as such your vet will examine your pet for signs of collapsing trachea, heartworm disease, bronchitis, asthma, cancer, heart disease, and more. Coughing can also be a sign of canine distemper virus or canine influenza virus.

Based on the results of your pet's examination and medical history your vet will determine whether kennel cough is the likely cause of your pup's symptoms.

How Kennel Cough in Dogs is Treated

It's usually easy to treat healthy adult dogs for kennel cough. Your vet may decide that no medications are required and that the best treatment for your dog is to rest while the infection runs its course (much like the human cold).

Are your dog's symptoms more severe? Your veterinarian might prescribe antibiotics to help prevent secondary infections or cough suppressants to give your pooch a bit of relief from the continuous coughing.

As your dog recovers, it's best to avoid the use of neck collars and use a body harness instead when you are taking them for walks. You might also want to run a humidifier in rooms where your dog spends most of their time because it could help alleviate their symptoms.

It generally takes one or two weeks for dogs to recover from kennel cough. If your canine companion's symptoms continue for longer than this it's essential to schedule a follow-up appointment with your vet. Sometimes, kennel cough can result in pneumonia.

Preventing Kennel Cough in Dogs

If your dog spends a fair amount of time around other dogs talk to your vet about getting your pooch vaccinated against kennel cough. While this vaccine could help prevent kennel cough it doesn't offer 100% prevention because kennel cough could be caused by various 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 pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.

Are you concerned about a dry cough your dog has developed? Contact our Riverside vets to schedule an appointment today.

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