Is your dog coughing without producing anything? If so, they might have kennel cough. In today's blog, our Southborough vets share some facts about this highly contagious disease and what to do if you notice its symptoms in your dog.
What is kennel cough?
Kennel cough, also known as Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis, is a common respiratory infection found in dogs. It's usually caused by bacteria or a virus that irritates your dog's airways. While it's not usually a big problem for healthy dogs, it can be more serious for puppies, older dogs, or those with weaker immune systems.
The name kennel cough comes from the highly contagious nature of this condition, which causes it to spread rapidly in places where pets are in close contact with each other, such as kennels, dog parks, and multi-dog homes. Kennel cough is spread when dogs come in contact with the droplets released through the cough of an infected dog.
This can be through direct contact with the infected dog or through contact with objects that the infected droplets have landed on, such as dog toys, bowls, cages, or blankets.
Kennel Cough Symptoms in Dogs
The primary symptom of kennel cough is a persistent and non-productive cough (doesn't force any substances out of your dog's respiratory system or is sometimes referred to as 'dry'). This cough is often described as sounding like a goose honking or like your dog has something stuck in their throat. Other kennel cough symptoms in dogs can include runny nose, sneezing, lack of energy, decreased appetite, and mild fever.
If you spot signs of kennel cough in your dog, keep your pet away from other dogs and contact your vet right away for advice.
Because it spreads easily, if your dog seems okay otherwise, your vet might suggest isolating them from other dogs and letting them rest for a few days while you watch their condition.
But if your dog's symptoms worsen, your vet might recommend bringing them in for an examination.
How Vets Diagnose Kennel Cough
To diagnose kennel cough, your vet will rule out other health issues with similar symptoms. 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 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.
Based on the exams and your pet's history, your vet will decide if kennel cough is likely causing the symptoms.
Treatment for Kennel Cough in Dogs
Adult dogs that would otherwise be considered healthy are generally quite easy to treat for kennel cough. Your veterinarian may decide that no medications are required to treat this illness and that, in fact, the best treatment is for your companion to rest while their infection runs its course.
However, if your dog's symptoms are severe, the vet could prescribe antibiotics to prevent other infections or cough medicine to ease the coughing.
Over the course of your dog's recovery, it's 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 get better within a week or two. But if your dog's symptoms last longer, following up with the vet is crucial, as kennel cough can sometimes lead to pneumonia.
How To Protect Your Dog Against Kennel Cough
If your dog often hangs out with other dogs, talk to your vet about getting a kennel cough shot. This vaccine can really help prevent kennel cough, but it doesn't guarantee 100% protection because various germs can cause it.
There are three ways to give the vaccine: an 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 pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.