Kennel Cough

Kennel Cough is a respiratory infection that causes a nasty cough in dogs that can last for several weeks. In a similar way to human colds, it is caused by a number of different bacteria and viruses.

What is kennel cough?

Kennel cough is a highly infectious disease in dogs that causes a hacking cough.  It’s the common name given to infectious bronchitis in dogs. It affects a dog’s respiratory system hence the cough.

Just like the cold and flu virus in humans, there are lots of strains of kennel cough. This means that dogs can pick up the infection multiple times throughout their lives and there is no lasting immunity even if your dog has had Kennel Cough before.

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What are the symptoms of kennel cough?

The main symptom is the cough, which is often described as a ‘hacking cough’. It may sound like your dog is trying to clear something stuck in their throat or retching. Occasionally they may also cough up frothy white phlegm.

Some dogs will also have a runny nose, eye discharge and be a bit sneezy.

The symptoms of kennel cough typically take up to 14 days to develop and can then last between one and three weeks.

Although most dogs don’t appear to be very unwell and will recover well within a few weeks, you should always talk to your vet if the cough persists or if your dog also has:

  • A reduced appetite
  • Less energy than normal
  • A high temperature

In a healthy adult dog kennel cough may be nothing more than a nuisance as your dog will be eating normally and generally in good health. However, there are different strains of kennel cough and some can be worse than others, and many more serious diseases, such as lung cancers, pneumonia or heart failure will also have a similar cough as the major symptom.

In elderly or unwell dogs and puppies the condition can sometimes be more serious and  develop into pneumonia. If you’re worried about your dog, please always contact your vet immediately.

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How do I treat kennel cough?

In the majority of cases, a dog will recover from kennel cough in a few weeks, in some cases it may linger for up to six weeks. You will need to keep your dog away from other dogs whilst they have kennel cough, as it’s highly contagious.

If your dog has kennel cough you should:

  • Try and encourage plenty of rest
  • Avoid too much collar and lead activity, basically anything that puts further strain on their respiratory system

If your dog’s severe cough or is really unwell, your vet may prescribe:

  • Anti-inflammatories to reduce temperature and any inflammation of the airways
  • Antibiotic treatment if appropriate

Your vet may advise x-rays or other tests to make sure that the cough isn’t caused by another illness.

You should always see your vet before giving your dog any medication.

Can my dog get kennel cough twice?

Yes, as kennel cough is similar to a cold in humans and there are various strains – your dog can definitely get kennel cough more than once.

kennel-cough-web-5.jpgHow do I protect my dog from kennel cough?

The good news is that there is a kennel cough vaccination available, which reduces the risk of your dog contracting kennel cough

The most effective kennel cough vaccine is squirted up the nose, it doesn’t involve a needle. Most dogs tolerate this very well as it is such a small amount of liquid. It’s important to note that although the vaccine isn’t usually included in the primary puppy vaccinations or the yearly booster vaccine as standard, we strongly advise it for almost all dogs, as most dogs will have contact with other dogs at some point in their daily routine. It’s offered separately but can be given at the same time as a booster vaccination - your dog will be protected for 12 months.

If your dog is around other dogs, is going into kennels or attends ‘doggy day care’, we recommend vaccinating them against kennel cough. It is also worth noting that most of these establishments will require proof that your dog has been vaccinated.

The kennel cough vaccination is included in the Medivet Healthcare Plan along with all of the other vaccinations that your puppy needs to stay fit and healthy.

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Why is it called kennel cough?

The name ‘kennel cough’ is misleading, because your dog doesn’t need to have stayed in a kennel to contract it. Your dog can get kennel cough just by touching noses or sharing a water bowl with an infected dog.

As it’s so contagious it will of course spread rapidly in places where there are a lot of dogs grouped together such as a boarding kennels or doggy day hence the name ‘kennel cough’.

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For advice on the health of your pet, speak to your local Medivet practice.

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