Kennel Cough – The Truth Behind the Name

Kennel Cough – The Truth Behind the Name

Kennel Cough, otherwise known as Infectious tracheobronchitis, is a highly contagious canine respiratory infection caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica and canine parainfluenza virus. Dogs commonly contract kennel cough in places where large amounts of canines are grouped together, such as boarding and day-care facilities, dog parks, training groups, and animal shelters.

The pathogens mentioned above attack the cilia lining the respiratory tract and cause inflammation of the upper airway. This leads to irritation of the airways and a dry cough that may sound as if something is caught in your pet’s throat or like they are trying to clear their throat. Symptoms usually develop three to ten days after exposure to an infected pet and the virus is spread from one dog to the next via airborne droplets, direct contact (e.g., touching noses), or by coming into contact with contaminated surfaces which include food and water bowls. Apart from the deep coughing sounds, pets with kennel cough will otherwise act and eat normally, so a visit to your vet is highly recommended to get a proper diagnosis if you suspect infection.

Treatment and Prevention of Kennel Cough

Treatment depends on the severity of symptoms. In very mild cases, no medications are given and kennel cough can be treated with a week or two of rest.

Most cases resolve within 7-14 days. If symptoms don’t improve, pets should be re-examined as kennel cough can occasionally progress to pneumonia. Puppies with an immature immune system and older dogs with a weaker immune system are at greater risk for developing pneumonia from kennel cough. If your dog becomes listless, lethargic, stops eating, has trouble breathing, develops excessive green nasal discharge or a productive cough, see your veterinarian immediately.

A vaccine is available for the bordetella bacterium, in oral, intranasal, and injectable forms

usually initially given in two doses two to four weeks apart, followed by a booster every six months to a year.