Kennel Cough – Did you Know?

Amy, one of our KGR Dog Walkers, who currently works as a Vetinary Nurse, is educating us all again with her latest informative blog post. Tonight, it’s all about Kennel Cough. Here is the low down on what you need to know about the disease.

What is Kennel Cough? – It is the name given to infectious Tracheo-Bronchitis in dogs. A number of different bacteria and viruses cause the illness which affects their respiratory system, causing them to cough.

Are there any other symptoms besides coughing? – In most healthy dogs, a forceful hacking cough is generally the only symptom. The cough can be dry and hoarse or productive, which may lead to the dog gagging. Some dogs may have a runny nose, sneezing or discharge from their eyes.

Is Kennel Cough a dangerous disease? – Normally no – although it is a nuisance to both the dog and owner! Puppies, geriatric dogs or those with existing illnesses can be struck down with more severe symptoms which can develop into pneumonia, so it is more serious in these at-risk groups.

How can dogs catch it? – It is airborne and highly contagious, hence why it spreads like wildfire especially in a kennel environment. It can also be transmitted with bacteria on food bowls, toys and other shared objects. Kennel Cough has an incubation period (time between coming into contact with the disease and onset of symptoms) of 2-14 days, with some dogs remaining carriers of it for months without showing signs of infection.

What treatment is there? – The majority of dogs will not require treatment, and will recover within 3 weeks (although some can take a bit longer). Antibiotics are only effective if the disease is caused by the Bordetella bacteria, but they are usually reserved for more severe cases. To aid recovery, a well ventilated (and ideally smoke free) environment will help, as will using a harness instead of a collar to walk your dog (until their trachea is less sensitive as any pulling might lead to coughing).

How can I prevent my dog getting Kennel Cough? – Some of the bacteria and viruses that cause Kennel Cough are included in the basic vaccinations dogs require as a puppy and their annual boosters. However, the most common cause is Bordetella Bronchiseptica, which can be given as a SEPARATE intra-nasal vaccine. However, much like the flu, there are many strains and not all can be vaccinated against. Vaccination on the whole, however, will help to lessen the severity of the symptoms, but no vaccine gives 100% guaranteed protection.

For more information on Kennel Cough, it is always worth visiting your local vet to see if they have any informative leaflets, or speaking to the staff members in person, who can offer advice.

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