So, what is kennel cough actually?
It is a highly contagious viral infection affecting the upper respiratory tract of dogs. A better name to describe it would be infectious viral tracheobronchitis.
What are the symptoms?
Owners often describe the most common symptom as: “sounds like there is something stuck in my dog’s throat” and “my dog has a harsh dry cough”. Other, often less noticeable symptoms include sneezing and a watery eye or nose. Other than the unsettling cough their behavior usually remains normal and they are still eating well.
How does my dog get Kennel cough?
Because this condition is highly contagious it can be spread not only by coming into contact with ill dogs or contaminated objects such as water-bowls and toys, but it can also be spread through the air when the infected dog coughs, sneezes or barks. Being contagious also means that it can spread rapidly at places where many dogs come together, places such as dog parks, kennels, doggy daycares, parlours and even at the Vet.
How does it get treated?
Kennel cough usually doesn’t require any treatment and the dog normally recovers well without any medication. However, it can occasionally take up to 2-3 weeks for the cough to resolve. Sometimes, dogs can also develop a secondary bacterial infection and when this happens, it usually goes together with other symptoms such as lethargy and inappetence. With a secondary infection the cough will then also start to change and the nasal discharge will change from clear to a green color. Once this is noticed your pet may need some medication from your Vet, so please book an appointment as soon as possible.
How can it be prevented?
There are different types of vaccines available against kennel cough: an injectable or intranasal form. Although these vaccines don’t provide 100% protection, they provide some protection against kennel cough and can decrease the severity of the symptoms. Speak to your veterinarian to learn more about kennel cough and the best way to protect your dog from it.
It is always important to remember to take your pet to the Vet if you are worried in any way, no matter how big or small.