Coughing is usually a clue we have a cold or the flu, and it’s also how we clear our throat. For humans, a cough may sometimes indicate a serious medical issue. Dogs can also develop a cough that could be nothing to worry about, or an indication of medical issues you need to be aware of. If your dog has a persistent cough, call your vet.
Although highly contagious, most dogs who develop kennel cough will recover on their own. However, it can take up to three weeks depending on your pet’s age and health. Older dogs, puppies and canines with a depressed immune system can take longer to recover. Your dog can be infected if he has spent time in a kennel, at the groomer, a dog park, a training class or anywhere there’s multiple dogs. A kennel cough is characterized by a deep, dry honking or hacking cough that might cause gagging afterwards. It gets worse when he’s playing or running. If his cough persists or worsens, call your vet. A serious bout of kennel cough can lead to pneumonia.
Like us, dogs can get a sore throat. It’s rare, but canines can also have tonsillitis. If you notice your dog licking his lips and making swallowing motions, and he has a high pitched gagging cough, it could be a sign of a sore throat, or an indication he has something caught in his throat.
Kennel Cough is known by several names: Bordetella, Bordetellosis, canine infectious respiratory disease (CIRD), and canine infectious tracheobronchitis. It is highly contagious to dogs, and is the most common canine upper respiratory problem in the United States, though it is found throughout the world. It is a complex disease which can involve several pathogens that when present simultaneously, can act together to heighten the severity of the disease. Kennel cough outbreaks are most commonly seen in shelters, kennels (including boarding) and training programs where multiple dogs are housed.
The most common pathogens that can cause kennel cough include the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacterium, parainfluenza virus and mycoplasma. It is thought that reovirus, canine adenovirus type two and canine herpes virus can contribute to the disease too. While any one of these can cause symptoms of kennel cough, most cases diagnosed are the result of more than a single organism. During the past several years it has been found that canine respiratory coronavirus and a subspecies of Streptococcus equi have also been associated with kennel cough.
If occurring alone, signs of a Bordetella bronchiseptica infection are seen between two days and two weeks after exposure. Symptoms last about ten days, but after the infection has been solved the affected dog can still shed bacteria for another six to fourteen weeks, and can pass the infection on to other dogs. Kennel cough can affect both domestic and wild dogs, so you may want to consider vaccination if you live in an area with foxes, coyotes or wolves.
A dog with kennel cough may have a watery nasal discharge, but the most common symptom is a hacking cough, as if your dog is trying to cough up something. It may be followed by dry heaves. I have personal experience with this, and listening to my dog cough was reminiscent of a goose honking. If your dog does not have a severe case of kennel cough they will still be active and alert. Symptoms in more severe cases include: pneumonia, fever, lethargy and no appetite. It can be severe and cause death, though these cases tend to occur in puppies that have not been vaccinated or dogs that have compromised immune systems. If your dog contracts kennel cough, it is suggested that a harness or head collar should be substituted for their regular collar, as pressure on the trachea and throat can worsen the coughing.
While bacterial cultures, blood work and viral isolation may be conducted to isolate the pathogens, a veterinary diagnosis can usually be made based on the recent exposure to other dogs and the symptoms involved. Depending on the severity of the attack, there are several forms of treatment for kennel cough. A mild form may be treated with antibiotics, cough suppressants or a bronchodilator. It should be noted that this does not lessen the length of time that an infected dog can pass on the disease. In the case that a dog is showing signs of pneumonia, running a fever or not eating, antibiotics are prescribed. Aerosol therapy may also be prescribed. If your dog is showing signs of pneumonia, get them to the vet immediately; if left untreated you could lose your canine companion.
Some protection against parainfluenza virus is offered by a vaccine that protects against “kennel cough” or 5-way vaccine (which covers canine distemper, hepatitis, adenovirus cough, parainfluenza and parvovirus). While these vaccines can help, they may not keep your dog from contracting kennel cough. Not exposing your dog to puppies or other dogs is the best protection for kennel cough. If this is not an option, you may want to consider vaccination. Intranasal vaccines, which are effective, are only recommended for higher risk animals due to possible side effects. Some veterinarians suggest vaccinating a dog for kennel cough before boarding or training where the dog may come in contact with other dogs. Talk to your veterinarian about vaccinating your dog for kennel cough if you are concerned.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.