Kennel cough, also known as ‘canine cough,’ is more than just hearing your dog cough a once or twice every now and then. Kennel cough has been given its name because it is a very contagious and can easily spread in kennels, groomers, pet shops, shelters, or other places where multiple dogs spend time together. It is generally a very treatable illness but it is important to understand what it is, what causes it, and how to treat it. AKC – the American Kennel Club – describes what kennel cough is, “Kennel Cough (also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis) is a highly contagious respiratory disease. Dogs commonly contract kennel cough at places where large amounts of canines congregate, such as boarding and daycare facilities, dog parks, training groups, and dog shows. Dogs can spread it to one another through airborne droplets, direct contact (e.g., touching noses), or contaminated surfaces (including water/food bowls). It’s highly treatable in most dogs but can be more severe in puppies younger than six months of age and immune-compromised dogs.”
As mentioned, kennel cough is generally very treatable but it can become life threatening if left untreated. When untreated it can progress to pneumonia so it is best to take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as you notice common symptoms. Symptoms of kennel cough include a dry cough, retching, fever, lethargy, nasal discharge, runny eyes, and more. Kennel cough is easily spread through bodily discharge, coughing, sneezing, etc.
Kennel cough can, in many ways, be viewed as similar to a common cold in humans. If it is mild and your dog is relatively healthy your veterinarian may only recommend rest, fluids, and nutritious foods. If your dog is having trouble breathing, coughing excessively or is just more ill your veterinarian may prescribe medications such as anti-inflammatories and cough suppressants. If your veterinarian determines that there is a bacterial infection they may also prescribe an antibiotic to help shorten the duration of the illness.
It can be hard to know whether or not you are taking your dog to a place where an infected is present. Fortunately, there is a vaccination against kennel cough that can help you protect your dog from infection. Pet Health Network describes the vaccinations available to protect your dog from kennel cough, “There are three types of vaccines available against kennel cough: an injectable, intranasal, and newer oral form. Although these vaccines don’t provide 100% protection, they provide some protection against kennel cough and decrease the severity of symptoms.”