Kennel Cough (Canine Cough)

Microscopic view of Bordetella Bronchiseptica or Kennel Cough courtesy of Wikipedia

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What is Kennel Cough?

Kennel Cough (or Canine Cough) is an upper respiratory infection caused by both a bacteria and a virus. It is also known as Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC) and Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis as it affects the dog’s lungs, windpipe and voice box.

Although Kennel Cough is highly contagious and extremely uncomfortable, it usually can only be life-threatening in young puppies, geriatric dogs, and immune compromised dogs.

What Causes Kennel Cough?

Kennel Cough is caused by several infectious agents, many of which plague the dog simultaneously.

The most common is a bacteria called Bordetella Bronchiseptica (this is why you may also hear Kennel Cough be referred to as Bordetella). If the infection is caused solely by this bacterium, symptoms normally last for only 10 days. However, the dog continues to shed the disease for 6-14 weeks.

In the majority of cases, Kennel Cough is caused by a combination of both the Bordetalla bacterium and highly infectious viruses such as Canine Distemper or Canine Influenza. The viruses not only weaken the dog’s immune system to make them more susceptible to Bordetella, but they also attack the cells in the respiratory tract. This puts the dog’s trachea (windpipe) and larynx (voicebox) in harm’s way.

It’s important to note that some dogs are carriers of this disease but show no symptoms themselves. However, whenever they come in contact with other dogs they are exposing them to Canine Cough, putting them at high risk for infection.

How is Kennel Cough Transmitted?

Kennel Cough is primarily transmitted through the air
Spread through the air.
Kennel Cough, an airborne disease, is primarily spread through the air. When an infected dog coughs, sneezes, barks, or even sheds dander – just once – he releases thousands of microscopic contaminates into the air. The bacteria and viruses can remain viable (alive and able to infect) in the air for up to 2 weeks on tiny dust particles, traveling throughout the environment until inhaled by another host. Once ingested, these agents begin to wreak havoc within the upper respiratory tract.

Kennel Cough can be transmitted by contact with contaminated objects
Contact with contaminated objects.
If an infected dog drinks from a watering dish, picks up a toy or stick, or hikes his leg on a post, and another dog comes in contact with these objects, he will most likely contract Kennel Cough. Bacterium like Bordetella can survive on surfaces for up to 48 hours, ready and waiting to be transmitted to another unsuspecting host to continue the cycle of infection.

Direct contact between dogs can transmit Canine Cough easily
Direct contact with infected dogs.
Be careful who your dog associates with and where he hangs out! Touching noses, sniffing butts, or just breathing the same air as an infected dog can cause your best friend to develop Kennel Cough. Dog daycare and dog boarding facilities, kennels, veterinary hospitals, dog grooming and other pet businesses where numerous dogs are coming and going or kept in close quarters, must take extra precautions to protect their facilities from the transmission of Kennel Cough. If a dog is suspected to have this illness, he must be isolated immediately.

What Are Kennel Cough Symptoms Like?

Although Kennel Cough in dogs is not fatal, it does cause symptoms that make an infected dog quite miserable. The most common symptoms of Kennel Cough include:

1. A dry, hacking cough. This is a classic symptom. The cough is generally dry (although sometimes mucous can be expelled) and may be described as a “honking” noise. The cough is constant, persistent, and can be unsettling. Some dogs may experience a coughing fit every few minutes. Others may constantly be coughing as they are walking, lying down, or going about their daily activities. The cough is probably the most uncomfortable aspect for dogs (as can be seen and heard).

2. Fever. If the dog develops a fever, he probably has contracted a more severe form of the disease. Some dogs with Canine Cough appear perfectly normal and healthy, other than the fact that they are coughing all the time. But a low-grade fever indicates that his body is hard at work trying to fight off infection.

3. Lethargy. Not all dogs with this illness appear lethargic. Some do, while others appear perfectly normal. If the dog is lethargic, he will have decreased energy, poor appetite, lack of interest in activities he is usually excited about, minimal motivation, etc.

4. Discharge. Nasal discharge and watery, runny eyes are a common symptom of Kennel Cough. In most cases, the discharge will be clear but sometimes it can be slightly cloudy or discolored, the latter of which is usually a sign of secondary infection.

While these Kennel Cough symptoms may not sound like much to be concerned about – after all, don’t we all have these symptoms when we’re suffering from a harmless little cold? – they are taking a major toll on your dog’s body and his mental state.

If you suspect that your dog may have contracted this illness, have him seen by a vet immediately – don’t delay!

How long does Kennel Cough last?

Most dogs recover from Kennel Cough within 3-4 weeks. If a dog has a compromised immune system, is a young puppy or a senior, it may take up to 6 weeks for a complete recovery. However, the dog may still be a carrier of the disease for several weeks after he has recovered. The answer to exactly how long Kennel Cough lasts truly depends on the individual dog, but 3-6 weeks is a common time frame. .

How is Kennel Cough Treated?

Canine Cough in dogs can be diagnosed by a veterinarian using cultures and blood tests to isolate the bacteria. The disease usually runs its course and the dog will frequently recover on his own.

However, there are several medical and homeopathic options for the treatment of Kennel Cough. These include:

Antibiotics are the most popular method of Kennel Cough treatment
Your veterinarian can prescribe a round of antibiotics to help your dog recover faster. Some of the most widely prescribed medications for Kennel Cough are Baytril, Doxycycline, and Clavamox. However, because the disease is caused by both a virus and bacteria, the dog will require a dual-purpose treatment.

As we discussed, this illness is primarily characterized by a wretching, hacking cough. If you’ve ever had a severe head or chest cold, you know first-hand just how frustrating and exhausting the constant sneezing and coughing can be. Dogs suffering from Canine Cough feel the same way. They are frustrated, uncomfortable and desperately longing for relief. Canine cough medicines, such as Doxycycline, can provide some comfort.

Ask your veterinarian what Kennel Cough medicines are best suited for your dog’s particular symptoms.

Vitamin C is an all natural way to help treat Kennel Cough
If you prefer not to give your pet medications and antibiotics, there are options for the natural treatment of kennel cough.

Vitamin C (L-ascorbate) will help strengthen the dog’s immune system, enabling him to combat Canine Kennel Cough faster and more effectively. You can give 500 mg per pound of body weight. You can also provide Vitamin E which will help support the dog’s immune system. Whenever you feed a dog vitamins, make sure he drinks plenty of water to help the nutrients move through his system.

Using honey to soothe and coat the throat is a great Kennel Cough treatment
Honey can be used to help soothe the dog’s throat. Kennel cough in dogs causes intense throat irritation. The constant coughing and hacking makes the throat feel dry, cracked, swollen and extremely sore. Honey is packed with rich nutrients that will help the dog combat the disease, and coat and soothe his aching throat. A half to 1 teaspoon of honey several times a day should provide some relief.
Herbal teas for at home Kennel Cough treatment
Herbs can also be soothing to dogs suffering from Kennel Cough. Teas made from licorice root and marshmallow are especially helpful. You can mix a small amount in the dog’s food for quick and easy ingestion.
Recovery tips to be combined with Kennel Cough treatments
Use a humidifier. Moist air can provide some relief for the dog’s irritated lungs, throat, and nasal passages. A steamy room, such as bathroom after a hot shower, will also help clear the dog’s airways. As a bonus, you can also couple this with Essential Oils such as Eucalyptus to help the dog breathe a little easier.

Avoid smoke, dust, and cold temperatures.A dog suffering from Kennel Cough must be kept him away from campfires, bonfires, tobacco smoke, etc. Cold temperatures mean dry air which only irritates the airways. Smoke and cold temperatures will irritate his lungs and could trigger a severe coughing fit that will be difficult to recover from.

Use a harness. When taking the dog for a walk, use a harness instead of a collar. Collars put extra stress on the neck, particularly if your dog tends to pull on the lead. This extra stress can irritate the dog’s throat and lungs, making his coughing much worse.

Maintain a stress-free environment. If the dog is nervous, stressed or anxious, he will not recover from Canine Cough as quickly. The constant anxiety will break his immune system down, causing him to struggle even longer with the sickness. You can make the environment stress-free by staying calm and relaxed yourself. Keep yelling, screaming, barking and other noise to a minimum. Minimize the dog’s excitement level. Avoid doing things that cause the dog to become stressed. For example, if trimming his nails or cleaning his ears causes him anxiety, avoid doing any of these activities until he has fully recovered.

How Can Kennel Cough Be Prevented?

For pet parents, an experience with Kennel Cough can be costly. It requires a tremendous amount of time, frequent trips to the veterinarian, medication and research.

For pet care facilities, the concern goes well beyond simply cost. The consequences of an outbreak can be much more devastating. Pet care facilities who experience an outbreak of Kennel Cough in dogs may need to temporarily shut-down. This means a loss in revenue, customer satisfaction, and the businesses’ reputation. Clients, repeat business, and referrals are lost. Although the Kennel Cough outbreak may not be any fault of the facility itself, the effects can greatly handicap both the business and its income stream.

This is why prevention is the best option and here’s how it can be done:

How pet owners can prevent Kennel Cough
Screen the pets your dog associates with.
Make sure your dog’s buddies are healthy and up-to-date on their vaccines. Don’t be shy about asking other pet parents if their dog has had his Boredetalla vaccine. Keep an active eye out for any signs or symptoms in other dogs.

Make sure your dog is seen by a veterinarian regularly..
By having your dog checked out by your vet on a regular basis, you can take some steps toward preventing Kennel Cough, or at least catch the illness in its early stages. If your dog may have come in contact with another dog, object, or facility that you suspect may be contaminated, get your dog seen by the vet right away.

Choose a dog boarding, kennel, or dog day care facility with caution.
Do your homework! Getting recommendations from people you trust and reading online reviews is just your first step. Request a tour of the facility so that you can make sure it looks neat and clean, and is sanitized regularly, properly, and thoroughly. Ask the facility operator if they have a PetAirapy air-purifying or surface disinfectant system installed to make their facility safer.

How pet care facilities can prevent Kennel Cough
There are two ways you can protect your animal care business by being proactive in the prevention of Kennel Cough.

Both of these methods are critical and both should be used.

1) Rigorous disinfection routine. Everything must be thoroughly disinfected regularly. Bowls and dishes, kennels, tables, toys, all equipment, etc. should be sterilized regularly using surface disinfectants. This is the first step in prevention, yet it can only offer so much protection against Kennel Cough in dogs.

Learn about PetAirapy’s surface disinfectant systems to prevent Kennel Cough.

2) Sanitize the air. Every kennel, shelter, rescue, veterinary clinic, grooming salon, pet shop with live animal sales, breeder, or other animal care facility should have a proper air-purification system to exterminate the bacteria and viruses floating through the air.

Remember, airborne transmission is the primary way Canine Kennel Cough is spread. And, the bacteria can survive on dust particles and dander for quite some time.

For true effectiveness, facilities require an air-purification system that is designed and tested against pet pathogens specifically for pet care facilities. These type of systems kill or deactivate the DNA of harmful and infectious micro-organisms brought into your building before they have a chance to wreck havoc.

Learn about PetAirapy’s HVAC installed air-disinfectant systems and wall/ceiling mounted air-disinfectant systems.

take the next steps to protect your business from Kennel Cough

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