What is Kennel Cough?
Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection affecting dogs and cats, but tends to be more common amongst dogs. It is characterized by a dry, hacking cough and sounds as though your dog wants to clear his throat or something is stuck in the throat. Although kennel cough is very infectious and easily transmitted from dog to dog like colds are in humans, most of the time it resolves on its own.
Your dog’s overall health and wellbeing remains the same and he will still feel active and have a normal appetite. However, your dog will cough a lot, often keeping you awake at night! The coughing generally lasts from 7 to 21 days. Episodes of severe kennel cough seldom occur but if left untreated can lead to pneumonia and other respiratory complications.
The common symptoms and signs include:
- Honk-like, coarse, dry cough
- Large amount of foamy mucus or phlegm is produced after coughing
- Retching or gagging
What Causes Kennel Cough?
Kennel cough is caused by a combination bacterial and viral agents called Bordetella Bronchiseptica and Canine Parainfluenza. Other less common agents such as Adenovirus Types 1 and 2 and Mycoplasma may also cause kennel cough.
This condition is transmitted when dogs are in close contact with each in an enclosed environment (kennels, dog shows or animal shelters) or through sharing food and water bowls. When a dog coughs or barks, the bacteria become airborne and if inhaled by another dog, kennel cough develops.
Diagnosing Kennel Cough
If your dog’s cough persists or fever, depression, abnormal nasal discharge or lung sounds are present, you should consult your vet immediately. A physical examination, chest-x-ray and complete blood count will be performed to rule out any other health complications.
Help for Kennel Cough
Kennel cough is self-limiting and symptoms usually resolve on its own within one to two weeks without treatment. Vaccinations against kennel cough are available and are quite effective in minimizing this disorder. These annual and bi-annual vaccinations include Adenovirus type 1 and 2, Parainfluenza and Bordatella bronchiseptica and may be administered in the form of injection or nasal drops.
The nasal vaccine like the Bordetella tends to produce a higher level of immunity than the injectable vaccines. Your vet will most likely suggest an additional booster if your dog is exposed to other dogs, for instance at dog training or
Treatment includes cough suppressants for mild coughs while antibiotics may be prescribed for severe, persistent coughs accompanied with a fever and to prevent secondary bacterial infections such as pneumonia.
Natural remedies have also proven to be beneficial in providing symptomatic relief, boosting the immune system and supporting the overall health of your pet. Herbal and homeopathic treatments are safe and gentle to use for dogs or cats without unwanted side effects.
Carefully selected herbs such as Plantago lanceolata and Echinacea purpurea are excellent for soothing the throat, clearing congested noses and chests and strengthening the immune system. Homeopathic ingredients such as Bryonia, Ferrum phosphate, Kalium sulphate and Magnesium phosphate support respiratory health and acts as a tonic for the immune system.
More Information on Kennel Cough
There are certain preventative measures that can be taken to avoid
episodes of kennel cough in your dog and these include:
- Feed your dog an all natural, high quality diet to strengthen his immune system
- Always have fresh, clean water available for your pet
- Exercise your dog regularly by taking him for walks or playing fetch
- Ensure that your dog is vaccinated against kennel before attending dog shows, puppy school or taking him to a boarding kennel
- Keep kennels and living areas clean, dry and disinfected
- Make sure that living areas are well ventilated and that there is ample air flowing through from the inside to outside
- If your dog has kennel cough, do not allow him to have contact with other dogs as this increase the risk of infection
- Avoid sharing your dog’s food and water bowls as well as toys with other dogs
- Incorporate immune-boosting supplements as part of his daily diet