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Kennel Cough in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Kennel Cough in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Does your dog have a dry, non-productive cough? If so, your pooch may be suffering from kennel cough. In this post, our Scottsdale vets share some facts about this highly contagious respiratory disease in dogs. We also offer tips on what to do if your dog is coughing. 

What is kennel cough in dogs?

Kennel cough (also referred to as Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis) is a respiratory disease often seen in dogs. The condition is caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria and canine parainfluenza virus, which attack the lining of a dog’s respiratory tract and cause irritation and inflammation of your pooch’s upper airway.

While most dogs who are otherwise healthy won’t experience serious symptoms caused by the condition, it can lead to more serious secondary infections in dogs with weak immune systems, young puppies or senior dogs.

The name kennel cough originates from the highly contagious nature of this condition, which causes it to spread quickly in places where your pup may be in close contact with other pets such as multi-dog homes, kennels and dog parks.

When dogs come into contact with droplets released through an infected dog’s cough, kennel cough can spread. This can occur through direct contact with an infected pooch or through contact with items that the infected droplets have touched, such as cages, blankets, dog toys or bowls.

Kennel Cough Symptoms in Dogs

The main symptom of kennel cough is a non-productive, persistent dry cough that may sound somewhat similar to a goose’s honk, or as if your pooch has an object stuck in their throat. Other signs of kennel cough in dogs can include mild fever, runny nose, decreased appetite, sneezing or lack of energy.

Keep your pet away from other dogs and contact your vet right away for advice if your pup is showing signs of kennel cough. Due to the extremely contagious nature of the condition, if your pooch is otherwise healthy but showing mild symptoms, your vet may recommend simply isolating your dog from other pooches and allowing him or her to rest for a few days. Remember to monitor their symptoms.

Dogs with severe symptoms of kennel cough may need to see a vet for an examination.

How Kennel Cough is Diagnosed

Diagnosing kennel cough is essentially a process of elimination. There are a number of more serious conditions that share the symptoms of kennel cough, as such your vet will examine your pet for signs of a collapsed trachea, heartworm disease, bronchitis, asthma, cancer, heart disease and more. Coughing can also be a sign of canine distemper virus or canine influenza virus.

Based on the results of your pet's examination and medical history your vet will determine whether kennel cough is the likely cause of your pup's symptoms.

How to Treat Kennel Cough in Dogs

In otherwise healthy adult dogs, kennel cough can be easy to treat. Your vet may decide that no medications are required and that the best treatment for your dog is rest while the infection runs its course (much like the human cold).

If your dog is experiencing more severe symptoms your vet may prescribe antibiotics to help prevent secondary infections or cough suppressants to provide your pup with some relief from the persistent coughing.

While your pet is recovering it is a good idea to avoid using neck collars, and switch to a body harness when taking your dog for walks. You may also want to use a humidifier in rooms where your dog spends time, as this can help to relieve your dog's symptoms.

Most dogs recover from kennel cough within a week or two. If your pup's symptoms persist for longer, a follow-up veterinary appointment is essential. In some cases, kennel cough can lead to pneumonia.

Protecting Your Dog Against Kennel Cough

If your dog regularly spends time with other dogs ask your vet about vaccinating your pet against kennel cough. 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.

Is your dog displaying symptoms of kennel cough? Contact our Scottsdale Ranch Animal Hospital veterinary team today to book an appointment. Our vets provide treatment and preventive care for pets in the Scottsdale area. 

Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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