What is Kennel Cough in Dogs?
What’s commonly called kennel cough is actually “a condition that’s associated with intensive confinement circumstances,” explains Kate Hurley, DVM, head of the Koret Shelter Medicine Program at the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. Those circumstances include kennels, animal shelters, doggie daycares, dog parks, and grooming facilities.
This upper respiratory problem can be triggered by several different agents, including several types of bacteria that belong to a kind of family called bordetella. “Bordetella is one of the most common players in kennel cough,” says Hurley. “But there are many other players as well.”
Does the usually mild nature of this condition mean that its symptoms should be ignored? Not necessarily. The trick is to know which symptoms are relatively benign and which indicate more severe trouble.
Severe Kennel Cough Symptoms in Dogs
A dog that’s experiencing a honking cough and discharge from its nose and eyes may have an uncomplicated respiratory infection that will clear up independently. But if your dog is also lethargic, not eating, or feverish, see your veterinarian. Such signs indicate that your dog may have a more serious illness, such as distemper, parainfluenza, or canine influenza.
Preventing and Treating Kennel Cough in Dogs
Here are four steps to take to protect your dog from kennel cough or treat your already diagnosed pup:
1. Vaccinate Your Dog Appropriately
Not every dog needs a vaccination against bordetella. For example, a healthy adult dog that spends little or no time with other dogs can probably forego the vaccine. But for dogs that regularly get groomed professionally, visit doggie daycares and dog parks, or are boarded at kennels, Hurley suggests a yearly Bordetella vaccination. “Vaccinations for other conditions such as distemper, parvovirus, and parainfluenza provide long-term protection and need to be given only once every three years,” explains Hurley. “But bordetella vaccine does not provide such protection, which is why dogs at risk need it every year.”
2. Know the Limits of Vaccination
Even a vaccinated dog may develop a respiratory condition. “Most vaccines for respiratory disease reduce the severity of the signs of those diseases but don’t alleviate them completely,” says Hurley.
3. Provide Your Dog with an ID Tag
Hurley says that proper identification is the best way to protect a dog from kennel cough or other respiratory infection. “Get your dog an identification tag and a microchip,” she suggests. “That way, if your dog gets lost, the person or shelter who finds him can contact you quickly, greatly reducing your dog’s risk of being in the shelter long enough to be exposed to kennel cough.”
4. Limit Exposure to Other Dogs
If your dog gets infected, follow the guidelines set by your dog daycare operator or boarding kennel to protect other dogs. At Sharkey’s daycare facility, staffers recognize symptoms. These quarantine dogs are suspected of being ill and alert the dogs’ owners that their dogs cannot return to daycare until a veterinarian clears them.
If your dog does come down with kennel cough, don’t panic. Follow the advice of our experts, seek veterinary treatment, and try to ride out the two to three weeks of ear-splitting canine coughs associated with the dreaded illness.
Article written by Author: Susan McCullough