Everything You Need To Know About Dog Kennel Cough

February 19, 2021 3 min read

Kennel Cough Graphic

Is your dog coughing a lot or often making sounds like they are choking? This could be a sign that they might have a case of kennel cough, or canine infectious tracheobronchitis. The constant coughing and choking sounds may sound terrible, but most of the time it is not a serious condition and most dogs recover without treatment. In this article, we will break down everything you need to know about kennel cough, the causes and symptoms to watch out for, how to treat it, and how to prevent your dog(s) from getting kennel cough.

What is Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough, similar to the human “cold,” can be caused by several different bacteria. The most common of this bacterium is the Bordetella Bronchiseptica M, which is why kennel cough is often called Bordetella. Most of the time when a dog gets infected with Bordetella, they are already infected by a virus that is attacking their immune system that makes them more susceptible to contracting the Bordetella infection. These viruses could include, but are not limited to, canine adenovirus, canine distemper virus, canine herpes virus, parainfluenza virus, and canine reovirus. Because dogs normally only get infected with Bordetella while their immune systems are weakened, puppies and senior dogs are at a higher risk of contracting Bordetella.

Like most infections, kennel cough starts with the dog inhaling bacteria into their respiratory tract. With a healthy dog, their respiratory tracts are normally lined with mucus that traps the bacteria and viruses preventing an infection. However, with a weakened immune system, these bacteria and viruses are able to cause an infection that result in inflammation of the larynx and trachea.

Signs and Symptoms of Kennel Cough

Kennel cough can present itself in several ways; here is a list of symptoms to watch for:

  • A persistent, nagging cough (some breeds this may sounds like a goose honk)
  • Watery nasal discharge
  • Retching
  • Lethargy
  • Eye discharge
  • Loss of appetite

Treatment for Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is very contagious. A dog suspected of being infected should be isolated from other animals. If you dog is infected with kennel cough, make sure he or she has good hydration, plenty of rest, and nutrition. During this recovery period, try and keep your dog in a well-humidified, well-vented, and warm area. Also, reducing the use of collars, leashes, and harnesses during this time will help minimize coughing.

In most cases, the infection of kennel cough will naturally be resolved without the need for medical treatment, but medications may speed up the recovery, reduce symptoms, and stress of the dog. These medications include antibiotics and dog cough medicines.

Most dogs with kennel cough recover in three weeks. Older dogs or dogs with weaker immune systems may take up to 6 weeks to fully recover. If the infection is not resolved within this timespan, it can potentially lead to life-threatening pneumonia. As with any illness, if your dog shows signs of rapid breathing or loss of appetite, it is important to contact your veterinarian immediately.

Preventing Kennel Cough

To protect your dog against getting kennel cough, it is highly recommended to have your dog vaccinated using a kennel cough vaccine, such as the Bronchicine CAe Kennel Cough vaccine. Similar to the human influenza vaccine, kennel cough vaccine is not a guarantee of protection because kennel cough can be caused by several different bacteria and viruses. Having your dog being vaccinated against Bordetella bronchiseptia and canine parainfluenza virus can also reduce your dog’s chances of contracting kennel cough.

It is recommended to prevent exposure to dogs with current kennel cough infections. Limited exposure to the following can also help maintain a strong immune system:

  • Crowded or poorly ventilated conditions (unfortunately those are the conditions often found in kennels)
  • Long exposure to cold temperatures
  • Large amount of dust or smoke
  • High levels of stress

LCS Kennel Cough Vaccine

Lion Country Supply sells the Bronchicine CAe Kennel Cough Vaccine, which is licensed for the vaccination of healthy dogs 8 weeks of age or older as an aid in the control of canine infectious tracheobronchitis (kennel cough) caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica.

Lion Country Supply also sells a Kennel Cough Vaccine from Vanguard. The Vanguard B (IN) contains an avirulent live culture of Bordetella bronchiseptica (Bb) for intranasal (IN) vaccination of healthy dogs and puppies at least 3 weeks of age or older as an aid in preventing kennel cough (canine infectious tracheobronchitis) caused by B. bronchiseptica.

- Michael Cassatt, Director of Marketing


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