What is Kennel Cough?
Kennel cough, or tracheobronchitis, is a highly contagious respiratory infection affecting the airways of all breeds of dogs. The disease causes an inflammation of the dog’s trachea and bronchial airways. Young puppies and older dogs are most susceptible but any age dog can catch kennel cough. Kennel cough is commonly contracted in places or situations where dogs are in close contact with each other or confined together. Such places may include dog parks, dog shows, boarding facilities, shelters, puppy play dates, dog walking areas, or grooming facilities. The infection is spread through the saliva and through nasal secretions. Coughing also transmits the agents through the air from one dog to another.
Symptoms of Kennel Cough
Symptoms of kennel cough are a dry hacking cough (sometimes described as a goose honking noise). They may include dry heaves or retching. Patients with kennel cough usually act fine as far as activity levels, appetite and general attitude. If you notice nasal discharge, lethargy, or not wanting to eat or drink it may be something more serious than kennel cough. Kennel cough symptoms usually appear about 5-10 days after exposure to an infected dog and they can last up to three weeks. A dog can remain contagious for several weeks after symptoms clear up. Dogs that have kennel cough usually have a sensitive trachea. A collar and leash may initiate a coughing spasm, so use care to prevent tracheal damage. Switching to a harness is recommended for the duration of the illness.
Treatment for Kennel Cough
Treatment for kennel cough is aimed at cough control. This is important because it reduces damage to the trachea. Your veterinarian will recommend treatment based on the severity of the illness. Some dogs recover without treatment. Other dogs may need a cough suppressant. In some cases antibiotics or other medications are necessary to combat bacterial infections. Dogs that are ill should be kept separate from other dogs to help prevent spreading the infection.
Prevention of Kennel Cough
Vaccines are available to protect your pet against kennel cough. Vaccinations should be given at least a week or two in advance of situations where your dog is at risk for contracting kennel cough to be most effective. The Bordetella vaccine that is carried at Upper Valley Veterinary Clinic is given intranasally (in the nose). The first dose of this vaccine can be given to puppies as young as 3 weeks old but is usually given at 6-8 weeks. It can be given to all dogs at any life stage. It should be boosted annually with your other routine vaccinations. Intranasal vaccine provides protection as early as 48-72 hours after it is given. If you have further questions regarding kennel cough, please call us at (208) 356-4271 and we will be happy to assist you.
INFORMATION COURTESY OF UPPER VALLEY VETERINARY CLINIC – DOCTORS TEW, SHAWCROFT, AND ESPLIN