Kennel Cough in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

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Kennel Cough in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Kennel cough, or infectious tracheobronchitis in dogs, is a highly contagious respiratory disease. Dogs often contract it when they come into close contact with other dogs in certain environments, such as kennels, boarding houses, and dog shows.

Symptoms of kennel cough

Canine infectious tracheobronchitis is characterized by the presence of acute respiratory symptoms that are bothersome to the dog. The sudden onset of a harsh, dry, persistent cough in the form of recurrent attacks and associated runny nose are the main symptoms of the disease.

A coughing dog can be embarrassed and get tired. It can also trigger regurgitation. Other respiratory symptoms like sneezing or difficulty breathing may be noted.

These symptoms in a dog living in a community, returning from a stay in a group of dogs, or having been in contact with a large number of dogs will evoke kennel cough. Indeed this disease is very contagious in communities as in breeding, shelters, boarding houses, or dog shows.

Respiratory symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

In some cases, severe impairment of the general condition may appear with anorexia, fever, and marked depression. Pneumonia (infection of the lungs) can complicate kennel cough. Death can occur in rare cases.

Causes of kennel cough

Kennel cough is often a co-infection with a bacterium called Bordetella bronchiseptica and various respiratory viruses: in particular canine parainfluenza (CPIV) and canine adenovirus type 2 (CAV-2).

These bacteria and viruses alone can cause the disease to appear in dogs exposed to other contagious congeners. Other pathogens can infect the dog when a primary infection with the agents mentioned above has set in.

These are bacteria such as Mycoplasma or Pasteurelles as well as viruses such as the respiratory Coronavirus. Kennel cough, for example, is a disease caused by many respiratory infectious agents.

The transmission of pathogens occurs directly. It is the direct contact between the noses of dogs as well as with contaminated aerosols (emissions during sneezing and coughing) that allows the transmission of the disease.

Prevention: kennel cough vaccines

There are several types of canine infectious tracheobronchitis vaccine.

Prevention of kennel cough in dogs requires routine vaccination of all dogs against Adenovirus (CAV). It can also be vaccinated against the Parainfluenza virus (Pi). These two vaccinations are included in the basic dog injection vaccination (combined with the vaccination against parvovirus and distemper). Vaccination will be started as soon as possible in the young dog.

It is also strongly recommended to use an additional kennel cough vaccine for dogs at risk of infection: boarding or kennel stay, hunting period, dog show, or agility … Vaccination is then easily done by intranasally, at least 72 hours before potential exposure to disease, and protects against Bordetella bronchiseptica and Parainfluenza virus.

Despite vaccination, dogs are likely to be infected by the disease but in general, the affection is much less marked.

In communities, and in particular, in farms or animal shops, it is the hygiene measures that will be the most effective to complete the vaccination. In addition, sick and contagious dogs must be isolated.

Kennel cough: treatment

In the case of kennel cough, your veterinarian chooses the most suitable treatment for the dog based on the severity of Its respiratory injury. The vet performs a complete clinical examination and inquires about the dog’s history.

The vet will be able to assess the severity of the infection with various additional examinations such as a biochemical analysis of the blood as well as an analysis and count of blood cells, a chest x-ray.

If your dog is in good general condition and only suffers from Its cough, let It rest and make sure It’s eating and drinking properly. Healing occurs spontaneously in many dogs within days to weeks.

On the other hand, if Its general condition is affected or if the veterinarian suspects an infection of the lungs by one of the pathogens of kennel cough, the vet will have to make It take anti-inflammatory and cough suppressants.

During bacterial infection, antibiotics will be added to the treatment. In the event of non-response to antibiotic treatment, a bacterial analysis may be requested by the veterinarian to ensure that the most effective antibiotic is used. In severe cases, the dog will need to be hospitalized for more intensive care.

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About Amanda

Passionate about animals, Amanda draws her expertise from her training as an educator, pet behaviorist as well as her extensive experience with animal owners. A specialist in dog and cat behavior, Amanda continues to learn about our four-legged companions by studying veterinary reference books but also university research sites (UCD, Utrecht, Cambridge, Cornell, etc..)

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