Has your canine friend ever started coughing or hacking out of the blue? It could be Kennel Cough.
You’ve checked for choking, yet found nothing in their throat. Your dog likely had kennel cough, a disease that causes harsh coughing.
Kennel cough is named for being highly contagious among dogs in kennels and shelters. However, less than half of kennel cough outbreaks surveyed occurred because of exposure in kennels.
Today we’ll be exploring the facts, symptoms, and treatments for kennel cough. Let’s get well-informed and keep our furry friends safe from harm!
Does My Dog Have Kennel Cough?
Kennel cough is highly contagious, with the formal name of canine infectious respiratory disease.
It is a relatively infectious and common disease that spreads from canine to canine throughout the year.
Dogs transmit the infection via airborne droplets. If you’re the proud owner of a couple of furry friends, it’ll be important to keep them separated until your sick friend has recovered.
When it comes to kennel cough, it can take up to 10 days after exposure for your dog to show symptoms of the disease.
Typically, this time-span stays within 5-7 days. But which symptoms are easiest to identify?
What are the Symptoms of Kennel Cough
- A strong cough - often with a "honking" sound
- A runny nose
- Loss of appetite
- Low fever
The most common kennel cough symptom is a dry, hacking cough.
Owners sometimes mistake this sound to mean their dog is choking on an object.
Just like human colds, sometimes dogs develop a fever or sometimes vomit because of kennel cough.
In most cases, the bacteria that causes kennel cough is B. bronchiseptica. While this commonly only results in kennel cough, these bacteria can also result in pneumonia if it spreads deeper into the lungs.
However, it is most likely that your dog will have kennel cough alone after being exposed to the bacteria.
Older dogs and those with other health issues are more at risk of kennel cough turning into a more serious illness.
How long does Kennel Cough last for?
How long your dog has kennel cough can vary from 6 days to 3 weeks. This depends on the specific bacteria that infected your furry friend alongside your dog’s general health status.
Most sources site 1-3 weeks as the estimated time span of kennel cough lasting when left alone to heal naturally.
This is important to keep in mind for your own pet’s safety, as well as others. In my article on how to keep your pets safe during the 4th of July, we explored the benefits of boarding your pet at a kennel when going out of town.
But what if your dog gets kennel cough around a holiday or boarding period?
You may have to cancel plans or find a friend without furry friends to pet sit for you while you're gone. Kennel cough is a highly infectious cough which spreads rapidly between dog’s, and you don’t want to spread the infection to other pets!
When leaving your pets with friends to pet sit, be sure to also arm them with contact information for your routine and emergency vets. This will ensure your pet is in safe, trusted, and equipped hands.
Can Kennel Cough kill a Dog?
In most cases, kennel cough is not lethal. However, particularly in predisposed or elderly dogs, untreated kennel cough can progress into pneumonia, strep throat, or other illnesses that could then result in death.
Because of its contagious nature, most often a veterinarian call is recommended.
If your dog does not seem to get better naturally or is seemingly in more and more discomfort or pain after a week, consider giving your vet a call. They will be best equipped to know if your pet will need treatment or just a bit more time to recover.
How do you get rid of Kennel Cough?
Most dogs will recover from kennel cough after a few weeks without treatment. However, there are many reasons consulting with your vet at the first sign of kennel cough may be the best option.
Kennel cough can weaken your dog’s immune system and leave them more prone to other diseases. By quickening your dog’s recovery, you can lessen the chance of their condition worsening because of other illnesses such as pneumonia or strep throat.
Your vet will most likely prescribe antibiotics to treat kennel cough. They can also prescribe cough suppressants to make your dog more comfortable during the healing process. With the combination of the antibiotics and cough suppressant you dog should be all better within 2 weeks.
Kennel cough does affect the respiratory system and your dog’s ability to breathe comfortably. When in doubt, it can never hurt to consult your vet.
Walking Your Dog with Kennel Cough
Additionally, your furry friend’s throat will be sore during this time due to agitation of the windpipe and coughing. When walking your dog, be careful of even light tugs on the leash as you’ll want to give them room to heal comfortably.
If possible, use a harness instead of a traditional collar and leash. This will allow for any guidance during walking to apply pressure more evenly on your dog’s back. In this way, you’ll be able to avoid accidentally causing more agitation in their throat area.
Kennel Cough Vaccine
It’s also important to consider vaccination from kennel cough for your furry friend! This is vital for dogs that will be exposed to many other canines, whether this occurs at shows or obedience classes.
We’ve discussed the Bordetella vaccine in our article on the Top 15 Answers to Question About your Dog.
The kennel cough vaccine can be administered by injection or intranasally and is relatively fast acting. Talk to your vet about the best option for your pet.
Keeping Your Dog Safe from Kennel Cough
While it may be impossible to always protect your dog from kennel cough, there are steps to take to protect them. Make sure that your furry friend is vaccinated and ask about any vaccination requirements boarding places may have.
If a particular boarding company requires pets to be vaccinated to be boarded, you can feel more confident in leaving your pet there for holidays or vacations. Most of all, stay vigilant of your dog’s health so that they can be with you for years and years to come.