While it’s generally not life-threatening, understanding what Kennel Cough is, is essential to ensure your pet’s comfort and overall health. Learn about the ins and outs of kennel cough, its causes, symptoms, prevention, and treatment.
What Causes Kennel Cough?
Kennel cough is a complex condition caused by a combination of viruses and bacteria. To understand its development, it’s important to recognize the viral infections that make a dog’s immune system more susceptible to bacterial invasion. The key viral culprits include:
Canine Herpes Virus
These viral infections pave the way for Bordetella bronchiseptica, a bacterium commonly associated with kennel cough, to enter the respiratory tract and trigger symptoms. This is why kennel cough is often referred to as ‘bordetella.’
How Does Kennel Cough Spread?
Kennel cough is highly contagious, and the infectious agents can linger in the environment for weeks. It primarily spreads through the air when infected dogs sneeze or cough, releasing respiratory secretions that healthy dogs may inhale. Several factors can increase a dog’s susceptibility to kennel cough, including:
Stressors: Travel, crowded environments, and exposure to cold temperatures can weaken a dog’s respiratory tract, making them more vulnerable.
Environmental Factors: Dust, cigarette smoke, and other pollutants can compromise a dog’s respiratory health, increasing the risk of infection.
Close Confinement: Dogs kept in close quarters, such as boarding facilities, shelters, or crowded dog events, are at higher risk due to increased exposure.
Kennel Cough Symptoms
Kennel cough can manifest in various ways, affecting different parts of the respiratory tract. Common symptoms include:
Dry, Hacking Cough: Dogs may develop a sudden, persistent cough.
Sneezing: Occasional sneezing can be a sign of kennel cough.
Snorting: Dogs may exhibit sudden snorting sounds.
Retching or Gagging: Some dogs may gag or vomit in response to light tracheal contact.
Spasmodic Cough: Coughing may intensify during excitement or exercise.
Nasal Discharge: Dogs might have a runny nose.
Fever: In some cases, a mild fever may be present.
Most dogs with kennel cough remain alert and maintain their appetite. However, in severe cases or with weakened immune systems, dogs can become lethargic and lose their appetite. Although rare, severe cases can progress to lung infections or pneumonia, posing a risk to the affected dog’s life.
Treating Kennel Cough
It’s crucial to keep a close eye on your pet’s condition and consult a veterinarian if you notice no improvement within a week or if the cough worsens.
Here are some essential tips for managing kennel cough:
Isolation: If your dog has kennel cough, isolate them to prevent spreading the disease to healthy dogs, as it is highly contagious.
Avoid Collars: The trachea of a dog with kennel cough is sensitive. Use a harness instead of a collar to walk or handle your dog, as pulling on a collar can exacerbate their cough.
Humidify the Air: Humidifying the environment can help alleviate symptoms and ease your dog’s discomfort.
Quality Diet: Maintain your dog’s immune system by feeding them a high-quality diet and ensuring their vaccinations are up to date. A strong immune system is your pet’s best defense against kennel cough.
Vaccination: A kennel cough vaccine is also available as a preventative measure
Kennel cough, while generally not life-threatening, can be uncomfortable and distressing for your furry companion. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and prevention measures is vital for keeping your dog healthy and happy. Remember, most cases of kennel cough resolve without medical intervention, but it’s crucial to consult your veterinarian if you have concerns about your pet’s condition. By taking proactive steps, vaccinating and providing a supportive environment, you can help your dog recover from kennel cough and keep them in the best of health.