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

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

If your dog has a dry, non-productive cough, your pooch may be suffering from kennel cough. Here, our vets in Murfreesboro list some facts about this highly contagious respiratory disease, and what to do if your dog is coughing.

What is kennel cough?

Often referred to as kennel cough, Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis is a respiratory disease commonly seen in dogs. 

The condition is caused by the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria and canine parainfluenza virus that attack the lining of the pup's respiratory tract and lead to inflammation of a dog's upper airway. While most dogs who are otherwise healthy will be able to overcome the disease, it can lead to more serious secondary infections in senior dogs, dogs with a weakened immune system or young puppies, 

The highly contagious nature of this condition inspires the name kennel cough. It spreads rapidly in places where pets are in close contact with one another such as kennels, multi-dog homes and dog parks. 

Kennel cough can spread if a dog comes into contact with the droplets released when an infected dog coughs. This may be via direct contact with an infected dog or through contact with objects that infected droplets have landed on, such as blankets, bowls, cages or dog toys. 

Kennel Cough Symptoms in Dogs

This disease is marked by a non-productive, persistent dry cough that's often described as sounding similar to a goose honk, or as if an object is stuck in your pup's throat. Other kennel cough symptoms in dogs may include sneezing, lack of energy, mild fever, decreased appetite and runny nose. 

If you notice symptoms of kennel cough in your dog, do not allow your pet around other dogs and contact your vet right away for advice. 

Due to the extremely contagious nature of the condition, if your dog is showing mild symptoms but is otherwise healthy your vet might recommend simply isolating your dog from others and allowing your pooch to rest for a few days while closely monitoring their symptoms. 

That said, if your dog's symptoms seem more severe, your vet might recommend bringing your pet in for an examination and diagnosis

How Vets Diagnose Kennel Cough

Diagnosing kennel cough is essentially a process of elimination. There are a number of more serious conditions that share the symptoms of kennel cough, as such your vet will examine your pet for signs of a 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.

Treatment for Kennel Cough in Dogs

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

If your pooch is experiencing more severe symptoms your vet may prescribe antibiotics to help prevent secondary infections or cough suppressants to provide your pup with some relief from the persistent coughing.

Over the course of your dog's recovery, it's a good idea to avoid using neck collars and switch to a body harness when taking your dog for walks. You may also what to use a humidifier in rooms where your dog spends time, 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.

How To Protect Your Dog Against Kennel Cough

If your pup regularly spends time with other dogs ask your vet about vaccinating your pet against 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. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms. 

Is your dog showing signs of a dry, hacking cough that isn't improving? Contact our experienced Murfreesboro vets today to book an appointment for your dog.

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