Skip to Primary Content

Kirkwood Animal Hospital

August 2021 Newsletter: Understanding Kennel Cough

Dog on couch

Has your dog ever had a persistent cough that they just could not seem to shake? This month we focus upon the causes, symptoms and cures of “kennel cough,” a critical and contagious disease that is treatable.

What is Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough is a relatively common respiratory disease that impacts dogs of all ages, sizes, and breeds. The disease is highly contagious and is spread through the air. And while your pet can contract it in a kennel, it can also be contracted in any situation whereby an infected dog comes into close proximity to yours — including dog parksgrooming facilities, or when your dog greets another. That is why is so important that your dog has its own kennel to prevent getting infected from other dogs, in case that you still do not have one, boarding kennels Melbourne has a wide variety of options for your dog.

One of the most common sources of kennel cough is a bacteria — Bordetella bronchiseptica, specifically. But it can also be accompanied by a wide array of viruses including canine distemper viruscanine herpes virus, and canine influenza virus — among others.

What are the symptoms of Kennel Cough?

A very common symptom is a hacking cough that is persistent — meaning it continues repeatedly for hours or days until treated. As your dog coughs, their discomfort will become apparent as they try to expel mucus or phlegm and, over time, they may appear tired and weary. Coughing may be accompanied by periodic sneezing, a nasal discharge or even eye discharge. At times, your dog may also experience decreased appetite, a general sense of lethargy, or quite possibly an elevated temperature.

If your dog repeatedly coughs like they may have an object lodged in their throat, it’s time to call us for an evaluation. If you suspect your dog might have kennel cough, please physically separate your pet from others in the household and tell your veterinarian in advance before bringing them to the clinic. Given the contagious nature, special precautions must be taken to prevent contact with other dogs, to wear and remove gowns, and to clean the area upon your departure.

How is Kennel Cough Treated?

Depending upon the severity, it’s possible that your dog might endure without medical attention. Often keeping your dog in a well-humidified room free of smoke and dust can help with the respiratory irritation they experience. Be sure to provide them plenty of clean water and soft food that can be more easily swallowed considering they have an irritated throat. And keep a careful eye for rapid or difficulty breathing.

If you are concerned, or the cough continues for more than several hours, it’s likely time for a call and visit to Kirkwood. We will thoroughly examine your pet and provide antibiotics or other medications (possibly a cough suppressant) based upon the condition of your dog. Early treatment is quite important as kennel cough can also lead to more serious diseases such as pneumonia. And just as you experience, continued forceful coughing can take a toll on your dog’s body, particularly the very youngvery old or those with any chronic condition.

It may take several weeks for your dog to fully recover. During the process (and particularly during the first week), be sure to comfort them and keep them away from other dogs — either inside or outside of the home.

Is Kennel Cough avoidable?

Generally, yes. If you plan to let your dog play with others, visit the groomers or be anywhere in close proximity to other dogs then you should have them vaccinated. The vaccination can be administered as a nasal mist, an injection or orally.

The vaccination is highly effective, but none are 100%. Remember, the vaccination must occur before your pet contracts kennel cough — such as a month before vacationing and boarding/exposing your dog. And it’s important that your pet be vaccinated at least annually to provide the needed protection — depending upon your dog’s level of exposure.

Contact Us If you have questions regarding kennel cough or any other health matter, please contact us. Our team is entirely dedicated to enhancing the health and wellness of all of your pets.