Coughing dogs are no fun for you, or your dog. With holidays near, many dogs may spend time away from home being boarded. That can expose your furry friend to kennel cough. Learn how to protect your dog, by understanding more about kennel cough, a very contagious disease.
For more information about cat colds and dog coughs, see this post.
I’m sharing this hacking entry about CANINE KENNEL COUGH which is an excerpt from Dog Facts, The Series 11 (Chapter K). This chapter covers a lot of ground, and here’s the topic list:
Kennel Cough, Keratitis, Kidney Disease, Kneecap Slipping, and Knee Injury.
I’ve broken the massive book into discounted treat-size alpha-chapter sections available ONLY to subscribers of my PETS PEEVES NEWSLETTER. Folks can choose which ones they most need. Each chapter will release every other week. Of course, you can still get the entire DOG FACTS book either in Kindle or 630+ pages of print.
WHAT IS CANINE KENNEL COUGH?
Canine infectious tracheobronchitis, generically referred to as kennel cough, is a highly contagious and common condition affecting dogs. The disease causes an inflammation of the dog’s larynx, trachea, and bronchi (tubes leading to the lungs).
All dogs are susceptible, but the disease is most common in dogs exposed to crowded conditions, such as kennels (hence, the name), shows, or other stressful conditions. Most cases cause only mild disease with signs that tend to be more aggravating to owners than dangerous to the dog. But kennel cough in puppies can cause stunted lung development, and/or develop into life-threatening pneumonia.
WHAT CAUSES KENNEL COUGH?
The disease can be caused by any one or combination of several different infectious agents. The most common culprits are bacteria called Bordetella bronchiseptica, the canine parainfluenza virus, and the canine adenovirus-2 (CAV-2). These agents attach themselves to the delicate hair-like cilia in the dog’s trachea, or actually cause the removal of the cilia. Cilia normally protect the tracheobronchial tract by clearing away irritants like bacteria and other microorganisms with wave-like motions similar to wind moving a grassy field. When they are destroyed, or the agent can’t be dislodged from remaining cilia–the protective mechanism breaks down, resulting in further irritation to the dog’s respiratory tract.
DIAGNOSING OF THE DISEASE
The typical sign of kennel cough is, in fact, a chronic high-pitched honking cough. It can easily be prompted by excitement, drinking, or gentle pressure applied to the base of the dog’s neck. The dog tugging at his leash may result in a paroxysm. Rarely there is also a nasal or eye discharge, and dogs may suffer a slight fever or loss of appetite. The signs can last from a few days to several weeks.
Infection spreads through the saliva and nasal secretions, and may occur by direct nose-to-nose contact. However, coughing also transmits the agents through the air from one dog to another. Signs develop four to six days following exposure.
Diagnosis is based on the dog’s recent history and clinical signs. Because the disease results in a vicious cycle of irritation causing the cough, and cough causing further irritation, cough suppressants to relieve persistent coughing are very important.
TREATING KENNEL COUGH
Holistic veterinarians may recommend herbal remedies to help soothe the discomfort and speed recovery. A Chinese herbal liquid called loquat is very sweet, and dogs may lick this willingly off the spoon. Ask your vet about the dosage. You can also make your own remedy by combining lemon and honey. Mix two tablespoons of honey and a teaspoon of lemon juice in one-half cup of water and give to the dog a couple of times a day. For congestion, the herb mullein is available in capsule form and helps break up congestion that may accompany kennel cough.
Antibiotics may be required when bacterial infections are involved. Anti-inflammatory drugs and bronchodilators that open breathing passages to help the dog breathe may also be prescribed.
CAN KENNEL COUGH BE PREVENTED?
Preventative vaccinations are available. However, protecting a dog from kennel cough is complicated by the fact that many different infectious agents may be involved. Some vaccinations are given by injection, while others are given as drops in the nose to stimulate a local immunity in the nasal passages. However, local immunity is relatively short-lived and may only protect the dog for six months or so.
Dogs at high risk may benefit from annual or oftener vaccinations. These vaccinations may be given alone or in combination, and are often recommended when you anticipate your dog will be placed at risk for exposure, such as boarding at a kennel over the holidays.
Will your dog be exposed to kennel cough this year? If visiting a kennel or dog park, check with your veterinarian about keeping your pet safe!
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Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!