If your dog is hacking away or constantly making noises that make it sound like he’s choking on something, he may have a case of kennel cough, or canine infectious tracheobronchitis. Although kennel cough can sound terrible, most of the time it is not a serious condition, and most dogs will recover without treatment.
What is Kennel Cough?
Just as human colds may be caused by many different viruses, kennel cough itself can have multiple causes. One of the most common culprits is a bacterium called Bordetella bronchiseptica m– which is why kennel cough is often called Bordetella.
Dogs “catch” kennel cough when they inhale bacteria or virus particles into their respiratory tract. This tract is normally lined with a coating of mucus that traps infectious particles, but there are a number of factors that can weaken this protection and make dogs prone to kennel cough infection, which results in inflammation of the larynx (voice box) and trachea (windpipe).
Symptoms of Kennel Cough
The classic symptom of kennel cough is a persistent, forceful cough. This is distinct from a cough-like sound made by some dogs, especially little ones, which is called a reverse sneeze. Reverse sneezes can be normal in certain dogs and breeds, and usually only indicates the presence of post-nasal drip or a slight irritation of the throat. Some dogs with kennel cough may show other symptoms of illness, including sneezing, vomiting phlegm, a runny nose or eye discharge. If your dog has kennel cough, he probably will not lose his appetite or have decreased energy level.
Treating and Preventing Kennel Cough
Kennel cough is contagious. If you think your dog might have the condition, you should keep him away from other animals and contact your veterinarian. Although most cases of kennel cough will resolve without treatment, medications may speed recovery or minimize symptoms during the course of infection. These include antibiotics that target Bordetella bacteria and cough medicines. Most dogs with kennel cough recover completely within two to three weeks, though it can take up to six weeks in older dogs or those with other medical conditions. If your dog, at any time, has symptoms of rapid breathing, not eating, or listlessness, contact your vet right away, as these could be signs of more serious conditions.
The intranasal and oral kennel cough vaccinations are typically given to dogs once a year, but may be recommended to be given every six months for dogs at high risk for kennel cough. These forms of the vaccine tend to provide dogs protection against kennel cough sooner than the injected product.
At Doggieland We’re on Guard
All dogs attending Doggieland daycare must have an updated Bordetella vaccination, but given the nature of the vaccine it is still possible for dogs to contract the virus. Although most dogs will be immune, dogs with challenged immune systems, older dogs or puppies may be at more risk of picking up the cough. Our Daycare is germ-free today but given an incubation period of 5-9 days we are always on extra alert.
If your dog has shown any symptoms such as coughing, sneezing or a runny nose, we would ask that you refrain from bringing them to Daycare and advise us. They will be fine to resume daycare one week after their symptoms have ended. Should there be any incident in the daycare we will always advise you immediately.