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Kennel Cough in Dogs: Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment

Does your dog have a dry, non-productive cough? If so, your pooch may be suffering from kennel cough. In this post, our Fremont vets share some facts about this highly contagious respiratory disease in dogs. We also offer tips on what to do if your dog is coughing. 

What is kennel cough in dogs?

Canine infectious tracheobronchitis, also known as kennel cough, is a common respiratory illness in dogs. The canine parainfluenza virus and Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria assault the lining of the respiratory tract in dogs, causing irritation and inflammation of the upper airway in your pet.

While most dogs who are otherwise healthy won’t experience serious symptoms caused by the condition, it can lead to more serious secondary infections in dogs with weak immune systems, young puppies or senior dogs.

The name kennel cough originates from the highly contagious nature of this condition, which causes it to spread quickly in places where your pup may be in close contact with other pets such as multi-dog homes, kennels and dog parks.

When dogs come into contact with droplets released through an infected dog’s cough, kennel cough can spread. This can occur through direct contact with an infected pooch or through contact with items that the infected droplets have touched, such as cages, blankets, dog toys or bowls.

Kennel Cough Symptoms in Dogs

The main symptom of kennel cough is a non-productive, persistent dry cough that may sound somewhat similar to a goose’s honk, or as if your pooch has an object stuck in their throat. Other signs of kennel cough in dogs can include mild fever, runny nose, decreased appetite, sneezing or lack of energy.

If your dog is exhibiting symptoms of kennel cough, keep them away from other dogs and get immediate guidance from your veterinarian. Your veterinarian may advise only keeping your dog apart from other dogs and letting him or her recuperate for a few days if your dog is otherwise healthy but exhibiting moderate symptoms due to the highly contagious nature of the illness. Do not forget to keep an eye on their symptoms.

Dogs with severe symptoms of kennel cough may need to see a vet for an examination.

How Kennel Cough is Diagnosed

Diagnosing kennel cough is essentially a process of elimination. 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 collapsed 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 results of your pet's examination and medical history your vet will determine whether kennel cough is the likely cause of your pup's symptoms.

How to Treat Kennel Cough in Dogs

Kennel cough is a common condition in adult dogs that are otherwise healthy. Similar to a human cold, your veterinarian may determine that resting your dog while the infection clears up is the best course of action and that no medicine is needed.

If your dog is experiencing more severe symptoms your vet may prescribe antibiotics to help prevent secondary infections or cough suppressants to provide your pup with some relief from the persistent coughing.

While your pet is recovering it is 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 recover from kennel cough within a week or two. If your pup's symptoms persist for longer, a follow-up veterinary appointment is essential. In some cases, kennel cough can lead to pneumonia.

Protecting Your Dog Against Kennel Cough

Ask your veterinarian about kennel cough vaccination for your dog if it interacts with other dogs on a frequent basis. Given that several distinct viruses can cause kennel cough, this vaccine may not be 100% effective in preventing the illness. There are three vaccine options: nasal mist, injection, and oral medicine. If your veterinarian recommends the kennel cough vaccine for your pet, they will determine which type is best for them.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. If you are concerned about your pet's health, contact your veterinarian right away for diagnosis and treatment.

Is your dog displaying symptoms of kennel cough? Contact our Ace Animal Hospital veterinary team today to book an appointment. Our vets provide treatment and preventive care for pets in the Fremont area. 

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