Kennel cough is an infection that every dog owner will have heard of, and many may have experienced. You want your dog to socialise with others and be happy, but that leaves them open to this highly contagious condition. So what are the signs to look out for and what can you do about kennel cough?
Kennel cough, or canine cough, is a respiratory infection caused by various types of bacteria which result in the dog's windpipe swelling, giving them a nasty cough. Kennel cough is picked up through interaction with other dogs, and your pet is more likely to pick it up when surrounded by a large amount of canine friends, such as at training classes, in the park or while boarding in kennels.
The most common and well known symptom is the cough itself, sometimes described as a honking sound or a dry, hacking cough. You may worry at first that your dog is choking on something. Overall, kennel cough is not something you can miss.
Other symptoms include:
- Gagging. This is probably happen during the coughing as your dog struggles to clear its airway. They may also bring up a white, foamy fluid.
- Lethargy. Your dog's body will be working to fight the infection, so they won't be as energetic as usual.
- Lack of appetite. In severe cases your dog may not want to eat.
If you are concerned about your dog's health, take them to visit the vet. Make sure you mention to the receptionist that you suspect the dog has kennel cough, as your pet will need to be kept away from other patients. Much of the time, kennel cough goes away on its own within two weeks. However, if your dog is really suffering or has a severe case, your vet may prescribe cough suppressants or antibiotics.
At home, your dog should be kept warm and calm. Excitably play or vigorous exercise leads them to pant, which can irritate the throat, causing them to cough. They should also be kept away from other dogs as much as possible (although if you have more than one dog, chances are your other pets have already been exposed to the infection).
You can protect your dog from kennel cough with a vaccination. All dogs should at least be vaccinated for kennel cough before going into kennels, and be given a booster shot every 12 months.
The kennel cough vaccination also covers Parainfluenza virus and the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica, which are often seen as the causes of serious kennel cough cases. This will protect your dog from severe kennel cough, but they are still at risk from catching a mild version of the infection. So keep a close eye on your dog and listen out for that cough.
If your dog has developed a worrying cough or you're boarding them in kennels, speak to your vet about the kennel cough vaccination and other dog vaccinations they should get.