What is Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough is more technically known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis. This term localizes the most common clinical sign, coughing, to the trachea (windpipe) and bronchi (within the lungs). It may be caused by any several viruses and bacteria, including adenovirus type 2, parainfluenza virus and bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica. The infection spreads rapidly from dog to dog in close quarters, such as a boarding kennel. This is the origin of its name, even though infections picked up while boarding or in animal shelters only account for about 40% of all cases. In reality, "kennel cough" can be acquired virtually anywhere there are dogs.

What are the signs, besides coughing?

The symptoms of kennel cough are quite variable. They include discharge from the eyes and nose, swollen tonsils, wheezing, lack of appetite and lethargy. Although coughing is usually mild, it may persist for several weeks, and dogs can remain infectious for up to 3-4 months (long after the coughing has subsided). In fact, kennel cough has much in common with canine flu, so it's important to take your dog to his/her veterinarian for diagnosis.
dog kennel cough symptoms and treatment

What is the treatment?

There is no specific treatment for the viruses involved. No drug will kill them, so they must run their course, which may take two to three weeks. Antibiotics are useful against the bacteria involved, although some resistance to certain antibiotics has occurred. Cough suppressants are used to break the self-perpetuating cycle of coughing that occurs.

How can I prevent this disease?

Most vaccination programs include a vaccine against the parainfluenza virus and Bordetella bronchiseptica. These should be administered to puppies and boostered periodically in adults.
kennel cough treatment and symptoms

How effective are these vaccines?

Immunity after natural infection with respiratory viruses, like parainfluenza or bacteria like bordetella, is neither solid nor long-lasting. Therefore, a booster just before placing your dog in a boarding kennel is good insurance against the disease. At MSAH, we recommend a bordetella vaccine every year, though some facilities (particularly doggy day cares and dedicated boarding facilities) require it every six months.

How are the bordetella vaccines delivered?

Bordetella vaccination is performed either by injection or intranasally. The latter means that the vaccine is dropped into the nostrils. This permits immunity in the membranes of the nose and throat where the viruses and bacteria enter.
If you have questions or suspect that your dog has been or could be exposed to Kennel Cough, contact us to make an appointment
This blog post originally appeared on The Drake Center and has been modified for re-posting.
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