Shep always seemed to come home with kennel cough after a stay at a dog boarding facility. Much like kids in day care, when dogs go to kennels, they’re often prone to catching kennel cough. Kennel cough is commonly caused by bacteria called Bordetella. Other causes of kennel cough might be parainfluenza or adenovirus viruses.
Signs of Kennel Cough
A dog with kennel cough has a dry, hacking cough for a few days. The coughing is sometimes accompanied by sneezing or gagging. He may cough more after exercise. Dogs with kennel cough seem to cough constantly over the course of several days, but they may not have any other signs. Infections typically are not serious, can last up to three weeks, but do not usually progress in severity. Sometimes, more than one type of infectious microorganism causes the irritation of the dog’s trachea and bronchii.
Prevention and Treatment
Just as cold viruses are very contagious to humans, kennel cough is very contagious to dogs. It is called kennel cough (also known as infectious tracheobronchitis) because it shows up more often in dogs that are closely confined, such as in the kennel environment, a dog show or even a veterinary clinic. But a dog might also pick it up from another dog through a groomer or at a park dog run. Also, much like people and colds, the infection usually resolves on its own.
An injection vaccination as well as nasal spray containing the Bordetella agent is available to vaccinate dogs against the bacteria. However, this vaccine would have no effect on kennel cough resulting from another source like parainfluenza. If your dog routinely comes into close contact with other dogs, such as at dog shows or in a boarding facility, you may wish to consider getting him vaccinated. Because the dog’s body needs time to build immunity to the vaccination, make sure you get him vaccinated a few weeks prior to his possible exposure.
Regarding treatment for kennel cough, most dogs don’t show much in the way of signs beyond a cough. They typically maintain their usual behavior of normal sleeping, eating or playing. Because a cough can be a sign of other problems, like heart disease or heartworms, your veterinarian should examine the dog, even if you’re sure it is kennel cough.
The veterinarian will determine the cause of the dog’s cough by examination, history and ruling out other issues. Kennel cough might be treated except with the use of cough suppressant to ease coughs or antibiotics for a bacterial infection.
If your dog has kennel cough, even if your veterinarian decides that no medication is necessary, your dog should be back to his old self in about three weeks. Just allow him some time to rest and stay warm and comfortable.