Kennel Cough in Dogs – Contagious and Serious
30 September, 2014
Kennel Cough in Dogs

Kennel cough is a very highly contagious respiratory disease among dogs. As the name of the disease suggests, it is usually brought on by dogs that have been boarded. Kennel Cough is usually accompanied by a bad cough and severe bronchial attacks. The disease is found throughout the world and is known to infect a very high percentage of dogs at least once during their lifetime.

Young puppies can suffer the most severe complications that can result from this disease, since they have an underdeveloped immune system that is still strengthening. Also at increased risk are older dogs, which have decreased immune capabilities due to their older age.

Below are the symptoms of Kennel Cough:

  1. Dry hacking cough is the most common symptom which may sound like honking.
  2. Retching
  3. Watery nasal discharge
  4. In mild cases, dogs would likely be active and eating normally
  5. In severe cases, symptoms progress and can include pneumonia, lack of appetite, fever, lethargy and even death

If your dog has any of the above symptoms, make sure to see your veterinarian immediately.

The causes of Kennel Cough

Most of the time kennel cough is caused by your dog being at a boarding facility that has placed the dog in contact with a number of other dogs. One of more of many disease or illnesses can be contracted if a sick dog is not boarded separately once one dog has Kennel Cough. It is nothing against boarding facilities, it is just the proximity to so many dogs.

The diagnosis of Kennel Cough

The diagnosis of Kennel Cough is based upon the type of symptoms and your dog’s history with regards to exposure to other dogs. You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health to your veterinarian and when the cough started. A complete blood profile will be conducted, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis. These blood tests, along with viral isolation and bacterial cultures, will be performed in order to verify individual agents that are causing the kennel cough.

Treatment for Kennel Cough

Depending on the severity of the infection and the severity of the symptoms, there are two main types of treatments that can be given for Kennel cough. In the most common and uncomplicated type of disease, there is generally no need for antibiotics.

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 colds in humans. Most of the time an anti-inflammatory will be given to your dog in order to reduce the severity and frequency of coughing episodes and to make your dog more comfortable. 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.

While your dog is recovering from Kennel Cough, allow him to breathe without anything that might irritate or constrict his throat, such as collars or restricting leashes. For walks and going outdoors, you can substitute the collar with a body harness.

How to prevent 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. However, if you cannot avoid this, then a proper vaccination would be the best option. 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 Kennel Cough are generally only given to dogs that are at high risk.

Even with precautions, a large number of dogs acquire this respiratory infection. It is best to be observant and prepared.

Kennel Cough isn’t usually contagious for humans; however, there are instances where young kids and adults with a weak immune system are at risk for infection. In these cases, care must be taken to protect those at risk from coming into contact with the sick dog until it has fully recovered. If contact cannot be avoided, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water and/or use gloves when dealing with your sick dog.

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