Kennel Cough

The quick details about Kennel Cough.

BarneyKennel Cough is one of the more common diseases we see due to the highly sociable nature of our dogs and the contagiousness of this airborne disease.  We thought we’d take this opportunity to review the symptoms and what steps to take if you think your dog has kennel cough:

  • Kennel Cough is caused by multiple pathogens, but we currently are only able to vaccinate for two of these: the bacteria called Bordetella and the virus Parainfluenza. Testing on the most recent cases we’ve seen have revealed that another bacteria called Mycoplasma is also involved, which is one of the reasons why vaccinated dogs are getting infected.
  • The medical term for kennel cough is Infectious Tracheobronchitis because the pathogens usually inhabit and irritate the trachea (windpipe) and upper bronchi, causing a cough.
  • Dogs are contagious before they start coughing, while they are coughing, and up to a week or more after they stop coughing, making the disease very challenging, if not impossible, to prevent or control.
  • The kennel cough vaccine works like any other vaccine in that it doesn’t completely prevent the pet from getting the disease, but helps reduce the severity of symptoms.
  • Except for mild cases which may require no treatment at all, we often treat with antibiotics to prevent a secondary pneumonia and sometimes cough suppressants for severe or continuous coughing.

If you call to schedule a medical appointment for a coughing dog, we will probably ask you to leave your dog in the car and let us know when you get here.  This is because Kennel Cough is so contagious that even just walking around our yard or standing in our lobby may infect other dogs.  Since the pathogens can be airborne, any pet that walks near where your dog just stood may be at risk for becoming infected, particularly if they are elderly, immunocompromised or very young.

If your dog has been coughing and is scheduled for grooming or boarding, PLEASE call and let us know beforehand rather than just bringing them in.  You should also avoid taking them to the dog park or having any contact with other dogs.

We have not yet seen any cases of Canine Influenza in our area, but would take similar precautions.  There is no seasonal component to the dog flu like we see with human influenza, and symptoms are similar to that of kennel cough but tend to be more severe and are usually accompanied by fever and nasal and ocular discharge.

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