Protecting Your Dog From Kennel Cough

Protecting Your Dog From Kennel Cough

Understanding Kennel Cough in Dogs

Kennel cough, also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is a common respiratory disease in dogs, named for its high transmission rate in kennels and shelters. This ailment, while usually not life-threatening, can cause significant discomfort for affected dogs.

Causes and Transmission

Kennel cough is primarily caused by the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica and the canine parainfluenza virus, although other viruses like canine adenovirus can also contribute. The disease spreads through airborne droplets produced when an infected dog coughs or sneezes, or through direct contact with contaminated surfaces. Outbreaks commonly occur in places where large groups of dogs gather, such as dog parks, boarding facilities, and dog shows.

Symptoms to Watch For

The hallmark symptom of kennel cough is a persistent, forceful cough that often sounds like a goose honk. Affected dogs may also exhibit sneezing, runny nose, and in some cases, fever. While the condition is typically mild, it can lead to more severe complications, especially in puppies, elderly dogs, or those with compromised immune systems.

Prevention Strategies

Vaccination is the primary preventive measure against kennel cough. The Bordetella vaccine, administered either through injection, nasal spray, or oral route, can significantly reduce the risk of infection. It’s important to note, however, that the vaccine doesn't guarantee complete immunity, as kennel cough can be caused by multiple agents.

Apart from vaccination, minimizing exposure to crowded and poorly ventilated areas, maintaining good hygiene practices, and ensuring that shared equipment is disinfected can also help prevent the spread of the disease.

Diagnosis and Treatment

At Onalaska Animal Hospital, if we suspect your dog has kennel cough, we will typically perform a physical examination and consider the dog's history of exposure to other dogs. Treatment generally focuses on alleviating symptoms and preventing secondary infections. Mild cases may only require rest and isolation to prevent spreading the disease. More severe cases might be treated with cough suppressants, antibiotics, and, in some instances, nebulizer or vaporizer treatments to ease breathing.

Supporting Recovery

During recovery, it's crucial to provide a stress-free environment for your dog. Ensure they have a comfortable, quiet place to rest, away from other pets. Maintain proper hydration and consider using a humidifier to moisten the air, which can help soothe irritated respiratory tracts.

When to Seek Veterinary Care

While most dogs recover from kennel cough without complications, it's essential to monitor them closely. If symptoms worsen, or if the dog shows signs of lethargy, loss of appetite, or difficulty breathing, call Onalaska Animal Hospital as soon as possible for immediate veterinary attention.