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What is Kennel Cough in Dogs? Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

If you're noticing that your pup suddenly has a dry non-productive cough, then your dog may have been exposed to kennel cough. Our South Plainfield vets discuss some things you should know about kennel cough in dogs and what you can do about it. 

What is Kennel Cough?

Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis is most commonly known as kennel cough. Kennel cough is a respiratory disease that our vets are commonly seeing in dogs. While there is more than one cause for the contraction of kennel cough, the most common culprits are the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria and canine parainfluenza virus. These are known to attack the lining of the dog's respiratory tract which can lead to inflammation and irritation of the pup's upper airway. A healthy dog that has contracted kennel cough will recover fairly quickly and easily but unfortunately, it can lead to more serious secondary infections in young puppies, senior dogs, or dogs with a weakened immune system.

Kennel cough is extremely contagious and spreads rapidly in places where dogs are in close contact with each other such as kennels, dog parks, and multi-dog homes. Kennel cough is transmitted when an uninfected dog comes into contact with the droplets released through the cough of an infected dog. Along with spreading through the droplets in the air kennel cough can also be transmitted through direct contact with the infected dog or with objects that the infected droplets have landed on such as dog toys, bowls, cages, or blankets.

Kennel Cough Symptoms in Dogs

The most frequent and most noticeable symptom of kennel cough is a non-productive persistent dry cough that might have a bizarre sound such almost as though your pup has something stuck in their throat. Some other symptoms of kennel cough in dogs that you should be watching for might include runny nose, sneezing, lack of energy, decreased appetite, and mild fever.

If you become aware of these symptoms it is very important to isolate your dogs away from any others due to the highly contagious nature of the disease then call your vet. 

If your dog is a healthy and active adult and is only suffering from mild symptoms, your vet may recommend immediately isolating your pup from other dogs to avoid spread and allow your dog the opportunity to rest until the disease has cleared. 

If your dog is experiencing severe symptoms or more susceptible to complications then your vet may recommend bringing your pet in for an examination.

How Kennel Cough is Diagnosed

There are a number of more serious conditions that have symptoms similar to kennel cough which can make it difficult to diagnose. Vets commonly use the process of elimination in order to confirm the disease. Some things that your vet might look for signs of might be a collapsing trachea, heartworm disease, bronchitis, asthma, cancer, heart disease, and more. Coughing can also be a sign of canine distemper virus or canine influenza virus.

Your vet will utilize both your dog's medical history as well as any findings from the physical examination in order to determine whether kennel cough is the likely cause of your pup's symptoms.

How to Treat Kennel Cough in Dogs

Treating kennel cough in healthy adult dogs is quite straightforward. Your vet may have suggestions on how to keep your dog comfortable while it recovers but typically the best treatment for your dog is to rest while the infection runs its course.

There might be rare cases that the dog is experiencing more severe symptoms and in those situations, your vet may prescribe antibiotics to help prevent secondary infections or cough suppressants to provide your pup with some relief from the persistent coughing.

Supplying your dog with a humidifier in the room that it spends its time during recovery as well as avoiding anything that might add pressure to the neck are both great ways you can help to provide your dog with some relief.

The standard recovery time for healthy dogs is around one to two weeks. If you notice that your pup's symptoms are continuing for longer, it is recommended to book a follow-up veterinary appointment. There are some cases in which kennel cough can lead to pneumonia.

Protecting Your Dog Against Kennel Cough

One of the easiest ways you can protect your dog, especially if they spend time with other dogs, is to have them vaccinated. While this vaccine may help to prevent kennel cough it is not a 100% prevention since kennel cough can be caused by a number of different pathogens.

Three forms of the vaccine are available injection, nasal mist, and oral medication. If the kennel cough vaccine is recommended for your pet, your veterinarian will choose the most appropriate form.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. If you are concerned about your pet's health, contact your veterinarian right away for diagnosis and treatment.

Are you noticing your dog experiencing symptoms of kennel cough? Contact your vets at Plainfield Animal Hospital to book an examination for your dog. 

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