Kennel Cough: Causes and Treatments

Kennel Cough: Causes and Treatments

We love our dogs because they watch our backs when we might be in danger and keep us company when we’re feeling sad or lonely. They force us to exercise when we take them out for a walk or a jog around the neighborhood, reducing our risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and other heart issues. 


Dogs offer the best companionship at home. You will never feel bored when they’re around them because they will always make you feel loved and appreciated. Since they help us take care of our health, it’s only right that we do the same for them. These canine friends tend to suffer from kennel cough at some point in time. 


You might have heard your dog making some coughing noises as if they are being choked. That condition is most likely to be kennel cough, which we will explore in more detail throughout the article.


When you notice this kind of behavior in your dog, don't worry. At Dope Dog, we aim to help you minimize pain and discomfort for your pet. Here’s some basic information about kennel cough.


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What is Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough can be referred to as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, or canine infectious respiratory disease. It is an upper respiratory infection that affects dogs. 


There are various causative agents, but the most common one is Bordetella bronchiseptica. The second most common strains are parainfluenza virus and Coronavirus. Kennel cough gets its name from its ability to spread rapidly among dogs confined in a shared kennel. 


Bacterial and viral agents are spread through airborne droplets that can be produced through coughing. They also spread when the dogs come in contact with contaminated surfaces or items. Additionally, kennel cough can be a multifactorial infection. 


  1. Bronchiseptica occurs mainly during Autumn and it can be distinguished from the others through symptoms such as vomiting and retching cough. On the other hand, parainfluenza infection is more complicated. It is caused by viruses such as canine adenovirus and distemper virus. They often occur in unvaccinated dogs, and they display symptoms such as fever, conjunctivitis, hacking cough, and rhinitis.  

Dogs get infected by kennel cough through inhalation of viral and bacterial particles. The layer of mucus in the respiratory tract traps viruses, which makes dogs prone to infections. This leads to inflammation of the trachea and larynx.


Some of the factors that increase the risk of kennel cough infection include cold temperatures, exposure to crowded and poorly ventilated kennels, exposure to cigarette smoke, dust, and travel-induced stress.


It is believed that Brachycephalic dog breeds are more susceptible to kennel cough. However, there are no genetic factors that can be associated with the disease. This is because they have longer pallets and narrow respiratory tracts, which retain the pathogens that lead to re-infection.


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What are some causes of kennel cough?

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Various agents can cause kennel cough, but the most common one is Bordetella. The symptoms last for ten days, but the disease will progress for 6- 14 weeks.


Other viruses such as canine influenza and canine distemper combined with this bacterium to weaken its immune system, therefore, making the dog more susceptible to bordetella. Once infected, the agent can attack the respiratory tract cells. This causes issues in the larynx and trachea of your dog.


Some dogs are carriers of this disease, and they put other dogs at risk of contracting the infection if they come into close contact.


Related: How cold is too cold for your dog?

How is Kennel Cough Transmitted


Kennel cough is transmitted in various ways. The following are the most common ways:-

1. Through the Air

Kennel cough is primarily transferred through the air. When infected dogs bark, sneeze, cough, or shed dander, they release microorganisms into the air that can eventually reach other dogs. 


The viruses and bacteria can stay alive for up to two weeks, which gives them plenty of time to transmit to another host. Immunocompromised dogs will have earlier or more severe symptoms than healthy dogs.

2. Contact with Contaminated Objects

When an infected dog picks up sticks, toys, or drinks from a bowl, a healthy dog that comes in contact with these objects can get infected. This is because bordetella can survive on contaminated surfaces for two days waiting for another host so that it can continue with its life cycle. 


Therefore, it is essential to isolate an infected dog to prevent it from giving the cough to other dogs when they come into contact with shared objects.

3. Direct Contact with Infected Dogs

You need to be cautious about the other dogs that your own interacts with. This is especially true when you take your dog to dog parks or other places where there are many pets. Your dog can be susceptible to kennel cough if they come into contact with an infected dog. 


Crowded places such as kennels, dog boarding facilities, dog daycare, and veterinary hospitals can predispose your dog to a kennel cough infection. Therefore, if you suspect your dog is having kennel cough, you should isolate him immediately.


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Symptoms of Kennel Cough

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In most cases, kennel cough is not fatal but displays the following symptoms. If you notice any of these, schedule a visit with your veterinarian to decide next steps.

A dry hacking cough

This is the defining symptom of kennel cough. It can be described as a honking noise, which can be unsettling, persistent, and constant. Some dogs might experience it for a short time while others might even cough as they walk, lie, or do their daily activities.

Fever

A fever might be a sign that your dog has contracted the most severe form of the disease. A fever and a nagging cough are both signs that you should seek medical help for your pet immediately.


Severe kennel cough occurs in smaller breeds, older dogs, puppies, or immunocompromised dogs. The only way to determine if the dog is experiencing a fever is by checking their temperature. 

Lethargy

Some dogs may be tired, while others may appear perfectly healthy. When a dog is fatigued, you will notice that they have a lack of interest in most activities, poor appetite, and decreased energy. 


Therefore, if you see that your dog is not as playful as usual, then it is a possible indication that it is suffering from kennel cough.

Discharge

Kennel cough can be characterized by a runny nose and watery discharge. The discharge can be clear, but sometimes it may appear discolored or cloudy depending on the stage of the infection.


If you notice any of these symptoms, then your dog might be suffering from kennel cough. It is essential to seek medical help by visiting your local veterinarian for the proper treatment. The symptoms are usually intense in puppies, which implies you should act as soon as possible.


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What Does Kennel Cough Sound Like?

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Kennel cough can be described as an irritating honking sound that is often mistaken for choking. This is because dogs normally cough forcefully as they try to swallow. This sound can be irritating and your dog can seem like it’s struggling to cough. 

How Do Dogs Get Kennel cough?

Kennel cough is a respiratory infection that is spread when the dog is exposed to crowded places or when it comes to direct contact with infected dogs.


Usually, most dogs acquire this infection in their kennels by getting into contact with other infected dogs. That is why if you notice early signs of kennel cough, it is better to isolate the dog from the others to cut off the route of transmission. 


Therefore, it's essential to ensure that your kennels are well ventilated and to give each dog their own kennel to prevent potential infection.


Related: Why My dog Won’t Eat?

How Long Does Kennel Cough Last?



Kennel cough usually lasts for 3-4 weeks, after which most dogs will recover from it. However, immunocompromised dogs and puppies may take up to 6 weeks to recover completely. Even after the dog has healed, it can still be a carrier, which implies it can also transmit the disease to other dogs when they come into direct contact.

How Can Kennel Cough Be Prevented?

Treating kennel cough can be costly, which is why prevention is the most effective medication to prevent high costs, frequent trips to the veterinarian, and the amount of time spent trying to treat your dog. 


Prevention is a collective responsibility from the pet owners and veterinary facilities. You should avoid crowded places like dog shows and parks, or make sure your pet takes a soothing bath after they visit a crowded place.



It's crucial to ensure that your dog gets a regular check-up by a competent veterinarian to prevent any cases of kennel cough. The kennels should also be well ventilated for adequate circulation of air to prevent kennel cough. After all, the airborne infection can be transmitted when the dog barks, sneezes, or coughs. 


Additionally, dog toys should be kept clean, and if it was near an infected dog, then it should be kept away from other dogs. If possible, ensure it is well-sanitized before they are stored.


Related: Discharge from a dog’s eye - Everything you need to know 


How to Treat Kennel Cough 

If you are wondering if kennel cough can be treated, then the answer is yes. The treatment process begins with a diagnosis. This is done by taking your dog in for a blood test and bacterial sample at the veterinarian.


The veterinarian can also decide to do X-rays of the dog's trachea, lungs, and chest for more accurate results. After the diagnosis has been made, and it is clear that your dog is positive for kennel cough, then treatment can begin.


The veterinarian can prescribe antibiotics such as Clavamox, Doxycycline, and Baytril. The dog will also require dual-purpose treatment because kennel cough is caused by both the bacteria and viruses. 


Kennel cough is characterized by a hacking cough, which is similar to having a severe cold. Therefore, the discomfort caused by continuous coughs can be treated by administering Doxycycline to provide some relief.


Most dogs can recover completely within a month, but others can take up to 6 weeks. Kennel cough can attract other serious respiratory infections like pneumonia; therefore, it is better to treat it at an early stage.


There are vaccines for kennel cough. They can be given orally, delivered as a nasal mist, or through injection. These vaccines can help significantly, but it is not a guarantee that they will provide complete protection against the disease. This is mainly because kennel cough is caused by various viruses and bacteria.


Your dog might be experiencing discomfort when they have kennel cough. To help them feel calm, our CBD Calming Crunchies are a great snack that have peanut butter, coconut oil, CBD isolate, and other wholesome ingredients. Following a healthy diet and eating calming treats like these will help manage their mood during the recuperation period.


Related: Everything you need to know about anal gland issues in dogs


Oral and intranasal vaccines are administered yearly. However, it is recommended that any dogs susceptible to kennel cough should be vaccinated every six months. This is to provide the dog additional protection with other preventative measures.


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Can Humans Get Kennel Cough?

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Most people worry whether or not they can contract kennel cough from their dog. This makes sense because we spend a lot of time hugging and kissing our canine companion. 


It is important to note that kennel cough is a respiratory infection, but is unlikely to be transmitted to humans. However, immunosuppressed people are likely to be infected with Bordetella Bronchiseptica despite a lack of evidence that the bacteria can be contracted from dogs or animals.

In Conclusion

Kennel cough is a common respiratory infection in dogs that takes six weeks to cure. However, it is essential to prevent your dog from getting this disease.


Puppies are adversely affected by this disease, so it is vital to ensure that the kennels are well-built and ventilated sufficiently to prevent infections. 


As a pet owner, you should work hand-in-hand with a veterinarian to obtain proper guidance on ways to prevent or treat kennel cough. 


With the information provided above, you should be able to pinpoint signs of kennel cough and steps to take if your dog has been infected. This can help reduce any stress and anxiety from not knowing about the infectious agent. Our goal is to give you insights, so you will be on top of your game to save your canine companion.


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For more natural, nutritious, tasty, and healthy food, check out:Dope Dog CBD treats and oil!


Please note that this article does not intend to provide medical advice. Go to your pet’s veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and medical information.

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