What Is Kennel Cough?

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What Is Kennel Cough?Is your dog coughing more than usual? If your dog recently spent a lot of time around other pups and is showing signs of respiratory distress, they may have picked up a curable but stressful illness. Kennel cough is contracted when a dog inhales bacteria or virus particles. Their respiratory tract is coated with mucus that traps the particles, resulting in the voice box and windpipe becoming inflamed. Find out which symptoms to look for, ways to help your canine recover and more about the vaccines needed to keep you pet healthy.

What Is Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough is also referred to as tracheobronchitis and BordetellaThis disease is a respiratory tract infection where the dog’s trachea and bronchi become inflamed. Kennel cough is highly contagious and a high percentage of dogs are infected at least once during their life. Puppies experience some of the most severe complications since their immune systems aren’t fully developed.

What Dogs Are at High Risk for Kennel Cough?

Puppies are not the only ones at risk. Older dogs and pregnant females also have decreased immune capabilities making them more susceptible to infection. This severe respiratory disease can spread quickly in overcrowded spaces like doggie day care, boarding facilities and groom facilities putting the pups at a higher risk of obtaining it.

Kennel Cough Symptoms

A dog with kennel cough may be acting completely normal activity-wise and appetite-wise, but the main thing you’ll notice is their cough. Below are some symptoms to be on the lookout for.

  • Cough that has a honking sound
  • Fever
  • Gagging and coughing up phlegm (worse after exercise)
  • Nasal discharge
  • Severe cases may include: pneumonia, lack of appetite, lethargy and possibly death

Kennel Cough Treatment

There are two main treatments for tracheobronchitis and Bordetella. Less serious cases require no antibiotics while more serious cases require them. If your dog has minor symptoms then you’ll have to let the disease run its course. An anti-inflammatory agent can be given to your dog to reduce the coughing episodes and help your dog feel more comfortable. If your dog isn’t eating, has a fever and is having severe respiratory problems – your dog may have pneumonia, this means antibiotics will be suggested by your vet.

While your pup is recovering from kennel cough remove any items from around his neck. This includes collars, scarves and bandanas. Use a body harness Instead of a collar for your dog on walks to prevent stimulation of the coughing reflex.

Kennel Cough Vaccine

There are three types of vaccines for this disease: injection, nasal mist and oral. This is a common immunization during your pup’s regular vet visits so be sure to ask if you expect them to spend time around other animals. The nasal mist and oral vaccine are given to dogs once a year, but if your pup is at high risk it may be recommended every 6 months. Note that the Bordetella part of the vaccine takes 3 days to be effective. The nasal mist and oral vaccine also provide protection to the animal sooner than the injection does.

Notes: While these vaccines reduce the likelihood of illness, they don’t guarantee your pup won’t get sick. Also, the vaccine does not treat active infections.

What Does Kennel Cough Sound Like?

Here is a video of a bulldog puppy with kennel cough – poor little guy! This may help you recognize the symptoms if you suspect your pup may be ill.

Other Dog Health Issues

It’s important that you know about other health issues that may affect your dog. Take the time to learn about common health concerns so you are prepared should anything happen.

Has your dog ever had kennel cough?

Growing up, Kimberly used to get the sniffles when she was around dogs. Thankfully, she grew out of her allergy and is now able to play and snuggle with dogs as much as she wants! She adopted Sally, a 3 year old hound mix, in 2017 and is loving life as a pet parent.

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1 Comment on "What Is Kennel Cough?"

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Scott Riddle
Scott Riddle

More of a question within a comment: My 3-year-old Yorkie/Miniature Schnauzer has recurring battles with reverse sneezing and now she seems to have caught either a cold or Bordetello from a play mutt. Coughing will lead to sneezing, sneezing to wheezing, and any combination thereof. Is this bizarre –often frightening, some time sad– struggle for air dangerous to her health? Or should I just make her as comfortable as I can while riding it all out?

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