Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Kennel Cough

Kennel cough has a dry, hacking sound, almost like a gag. 

What It Is

Kennel cough is a very contagious upper respiratory disease in dogs. As the name of the disease suggests, its symptoms include coughing and hacking because of irritation to the trachea and bronchi. This disease is found throughout the world and is known to infect a very high percentage of dogs at least once during their lifetime. It is also medically referred to as tracheobronchitis and Bordetella.

Where It Comes From

Most of the time there has been a recent boarding that has placed the dog in contact with a number of other dogs.  If an infected dog shares the same space with another dog, it is likely to catch the disease.  Your dog is unlikely to catch kennel cough from other dogs at the dog park or brief meetings, unless they tend to play very closely and “swap spit”.  


Usually, no treatment is needed for otherwise healthy dogs that contract kennel cough.  If your dog is alert, but has only minor symptoms along with the recurrent cough, then it is often left alone to go through the course of the disease, just like the common cold in humans. Most of the time an anti-inflammatory medication (such as Metacam) will be given to your dog in order to reduce the severity and frequency of coughing episodes and to make the dog more comfortable.

*NEVER give your dog “human” anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil, as they are usually toxic to dogs!

Some good ways to help your dog stay comfortable at home while getting over kennel cough include:
  •        Feeding warm, wet meals such as homemade stews or bland diet with broth added to them. This will help soothe their throat and chest, just as it would for you if you had bronchitis or a cough.
  •        A humidifier can be left on near your dog’s crate at night to help ease their coughing.  We all know how uncomfortable it can be to be kept up coughing all night!
  •        Warm, moist towels wrapped around your dog’s neck (loosely!) while you give them some attention can help as well. 

 Antibiotics will be used if your dog is not eating, is running a fever, and is showing signs of severe respiratory troubles, as this may indicate pneumonia.  If your dog coughs up very thick mucous that is green or bright yellow, or blood, he or she needs a vet visit ASAP, but this is very rare with kennel cough.


In order to prevent this disease, it is recommended that you not expose your dog to kennel like or boarding conditions, where large populations of dogs are contained and mixed together.

Common sense care is very important in helping to spread any disease:
·       Always wash your hands after handling a dog that has been coughing or otherwise appears ill before touching your pets.
·       Keeping your dog away from others that appear to be coughing excessively or ill.  Don’t allow your dog to visit with others at the vet; you do not know why the dog has been brought in!
·       When you bring your dog to places with large numbers of dogs (such as groomers or doggy daycares), make sure that you ask if they have policies about kennel cough and how they strive to prevent spreading the disease. 

Talk to your veterinarian about what is available for your dog, since there are certain vaccines that can have worrisome side effects. Therefore, vaccines to prevent tracheobronchitis are generally only given to dogs that are at high risk.

This blog contains excerpts from “Kennel Cough in Dogs” with permission of petMD.

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