Kennel Cough (Canine Cough)

Kennel Cough in dogs (commonly known as Canine cough) is an upper respiratory infection caused by both a bacteria and a virus. The condition is also known as Tracheobronchitis and affects the lungs, windpipe and voice box.

Canine kennel cough is caused by several infectious agents. The most common is Bordetella Bronchiseptica. If canine kennel cough is caused solely by this bacterium, symptoms normally last for only 10 days. However, the animal continues to shed the disease for 6-14 weeks. Most cases of kennel cough are caused by a combination of both the bordetalla bacteria and the canine para-influenza virus. The virus attacks the cells in the respiratory tract and could potentially harm the trachea.

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 kennel cough, putting them at high risk for infection.

Microscopic view of Bordetella Bronchiseptica or Kennel Cough courtesy of Wikipedia

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How is Kennel Cough Transmitted?

Spread through the air.
Canine cough (kennel cough) is an airborne disease. In fact, this is the primary means by which the illness spreads. When a dog coughs, sneezes or even sheds dander, he releases thousands of microscopic contaminates into the air. The bacteria and virus can survive on tiny dust particles, dander and survive for hours traveling throughout your facility until inhaled by another host. Once ingested, these agents begin to wreak havoc within the upper respiratory tract.

Contact with contaminated objects.
If an infected dog drinks from a watering dish or hikes his leg on a post, and another dog comes in contact with these objects, he could easily catch canine cough. This is why proper sanitation is critical in keeping your pets healthy. Failing to wipe down counters or thoroughly wash feeding dishes could cause your pet to develop this nasty illness.

Direct contact with infected dogs.
Be careful who your pet associates with! Sniffing the nose or just breathing the same air as an infected dog can cause your pet to develop kennel cough. Daycare, boarding facilities, veterinary hospitals, grooming and other businesses where numerous pets are kept in close quarters, must take extra precautions to protect their facilities from the transmission of canine cough in dogs. If you suspect a dog has this illness, isolate him immediately.

What Are Kennel Cough Symptoms Like?

Although kennel cough in dogs is not life-threatening, it does cause symptoms that make your pet extremely uncomfortable. The symptoms of kennel cough include:

1. A dry, hacking cough. This is a classic symptom. The cough is generally dry and may be described as a honking noise. Unfortunately the cough is constant and persistent. Some dogs may experience a coughing fit every few minutes. Others may constantly be coughing as they are walking, lying down and going about their daily activities. The cough is probably the most uncomfortable aspect for dogs.

2. Fever. If your pet develops a fever, he probably has contracted a 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. A fever indicates that the disease is taking a toll on your pet’s body. In this case, you should provide your pet with extra rest and TLC to ensure his swift recovery.

3. Lethargy. Not all dogs with canine kennel cough or canine cough appear lethargic. Some do, while others appear perfectly normal. If your pet is lethargic he will have decreased energy, poor appetite, lack of interest in activities he is usually excited about, etc. The best thing you can do for a dog suffering from kennel cough is to make sure he receives plenty of rest and good nutrition. This will help his body combat the disease.

While these 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? – the symptoms of kennel cough are taking a major toll on your pet’s body and his mental state. If you suspect that your pet may have contracted this illness, do not hesitate in having him seen by a vet immediately.

How long does Kennel Cough last?

Most dogs recover from canine kennel cough (canine cough) within 3-4 weeks. If a dog has a compromised immune system or is extremely young or old, it may take up to 6 weeks for a complete recovery. However, your pet may still be a carrier of the disease 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 timeframe. Kennel 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 animal will frequently recover on his own.

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