What Is Kennel Cough?

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What Is Kennel Cough?Is your dog coughing more than usual? If they are making a hacking sounds (like they have a hairball stuck in their throat) and your dog recently spent a lot of time around other pups (or a common place like the groomer, dog park or pet store) and is showing signs of respiratory distress, they may have picked up a curable illness of Kennel cough.

What Is Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough is also referred to as tracheobronchitis and Bordetella.

This curable disease is a respiratory tract infection where the dog’s trachea and bronchi are coated with mucus that traps the particles, resulting in the voice box and windpipe becoming inflamed.

Kennel cough is contracted when a dog inhales bacteria or virus particles, making it highly contagious. Think of it as a cold, but for dogs.

What Dogs Are At High Risk For Kennel Cough?

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. 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 daycare, 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 additional symptoms:

  • 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. If your dog has minor symptoms, then you’ll have to let the cough run its course. In most cases, the cough will go away on its own, but your vet might prescribe antibiotics as a precaution to it getting worse. Also, an anti-inflammatory agent can be given to your dog to reduce the coughing episodes and help your dog feel more comfortable.

If it doesn’t improve over a few days or your dog isn’t eating, has a fever and is having severe respiratory problems – it may turn into pneumonia which will require additional treatment.

While your pup is recovering from kennel cough, remove any items from around their neck that can restrict their airflow. This includes collars, scarves and bandanas. Use a 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. Immunizing for kennel cough is common 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 is recommended every six months.

Note that the Bordetella part of the vaccine takes three days to be effective. The nasal mist and oral vaccine also protect the animal sooner than an injection. 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. Also, make sure your dog is up to date on their vaccinations.

Has your dog ever had kennel cough?

Disclaimer: The information provided through this website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.

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Kimberly received her Bachelor of Arts in multimedia journalism from Simpson College. She has been writing about dogs since 2014, covering subjects such as dog insurance, training, health, accessories and more. Her natural curiosity helps her research as she seeks the truth when learning about, comparing and personally testing canine products and services. With every piece she writes, her goal is to help our readers find the best fit for their unique needs.

Kimberly grew up in a family that loved Labrador Retrievers and remembers running and playing in the yard with them as a child. In 2017, she and her husband adopted their Coonhound mix, Sally, from a local shelter. Kimberly's research was put to good use since Sally faced some aggression issues with other dogs and needed some training to be an inside dog. She worked daily with Sally and sought help from professionals to help Sally become the happy pup she is today.

One of Kimberly's favorite pastimes is spoiling Sally with new toys, comfy beds and yummy treats (she even makes homemade goodies for her). She tries to purchase the safest products for Sally and knows that each canine has their own specific likes and dislikes. Kimberly is passionate about dogs, and knows the bond between humans and canines is like no other.

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Software_Bear
Dogs act like dogs and I surmise that he picked it up from a nearby rail trail. Our 2-year-old male, Maltese/Poodle mix showed symptoms at 7 a.m. including chills/shivering, loss of appetite and lethargy by 11 a.m. (Alarm klaxons then metaphorically sounded in my head.) I felt it imperative that he eat something so (abandoning dog food) I cooked a burger patty and fed him 1/4 at a time (in small pieces) over the next two hours. He slept for the remainder of the day until about 6 p.m. Only then did he revert to his normal self, started drinking quite a bit of water, demanding to play fetch with a ball, and I breathed a sigh of relief.
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?