Kennel cough is one of the most common diseases dog owners should look out for, and in some cases, it can cause serious health problems in dogs. Kennel cough is officially known as the Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC) and affects the canine airways. The name “kennel cough” was often used because it was believed that the disease was most easily spread in kennels where large numbers of dogs are kept together. Don’t be fooled, however – dogs can get kennel cough from anywhere they come in contact with other dogs, whether they’re walking or playing in the yard.
It has historically been assumed that kennel cough was caused by the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica. However, now we know that other organisms are also involved, which is part of the reason why this disease is so difficult to eradicate. There are over 20 viruses, bacteria, and mycoplasmas that can contribute to kennel cough. Many of these have only been linked to the disease in the past 10 years. Hence, we are still learning about the disease. We know it spreads easily in the air, so cough dogs are at risk of spreading the disease to those around them.
Symptoms of kennel cough
Kennel cough can cause some very uncomfortable symptoms in dogs that can almost appear like they are suffering from the flu.
- Dry hacking cough.
- Nasal discharge
- Mild fever (over 102.5 ° F)
- Decreased appetite
The most common symptom of kennel cough is a dry cough that has something caught in the throat. Sneezing, nasal discharge, and coughing up mucus are also signs that a dog has kennel cough. Therefore, do not confuse this with vomiting, as owners sometimes confuse the two. A dry throat can also make dogs uncomfortable to eat, so kennel cough can lead to a decrease in your dog’s appetite.
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Dogs with kennel cough can also develop a slight fever (any temperature above 22 ° C is a warning sign). So if you keep an eye on the temperature, you can spot diseases early. Lethargy is another symptom to be aware of. If your dog appears tired or listless, it can be a sign that something is wrong. Talk to a veterinarian if you are concerned about your dog’s health.
Kennel cough treatment
If your dog is diagnosed with kennel cough, only supportive care is usually needed.
- Give your dog a lot of TLC!
- Make sure they have plenty of clean, fresh water and a nutritious diet.
- If your dog has trouble eating due to a sore throat, consider soaking the dry food with a little warm water for a few days.
- Provide a warm, dry place to rest.
In mild cases, helping dogs recover from kennel cough means a lot of care and attention. Providing clean, fresh water is critical to maintaining sick dogs’ vigor, as is maintaining a nutritious diet. If your pet has difficulty eating dry food as it can make them uncomfortable with a sore throat and itching, try soaking the dry food in warm water for a few hours to soften it. After all, good ways to keep dogs warm and dry and provide them with support and company while they get better are good ways to get them on the path to recovery.
In more severe cases, veterinary treatment may be needed, especially if the disease lasts longer than 3-5 days. A veterinarian can prescribe either cough suppressants or antibiotics to help a dog fight off the infection. However, you should always see a veterinarian before giving your dog any medication. Because of the contagious nature of kennel cough, if your dog has symptoms, it’s best to keep them away at home and away from other dogs to make sure they don’t infect other canines. They should stay home about seven days after they stop coughing to make sure other dogs in the area are safe.
Can kennel cough be prevented?
Vaccinating your dog is the best way to prevent him from developing kennel cough. Vaccination does not always provide complete protection against the disease. Most vaccines target the three main pathogens (other interfering organisms may be present) but give them the best possible chance of avoiding infection. The Bordetella vaccine protects against the three most common causes of kennel cough and can be given as soon as a puppy is six to eight weeks old. This can come in a variety of forms, including intranasal drops, oral liquid, or an injection. Depending on the type of vaccine being given, dogs may need a booster between two and four weeks after the first dose. However, because of the complicated nature of the disease, the safest option is to replenish your dog with all of their vaccines.
While it is best to vaccinate puppies as soon as possible, it is never too late to vaccinate your dog. In fact, it is all the more important that older dogs be vaccinated against kennel cough as geriatric canines tend to have weaker immune systems, which puts them at higher risk of disease. Not only are many boarding schools and snow groomers important to dog health, but they also won’t accept dogs unless they’re vaccinated. So make sure vaccination protocols are safe and up to date. It takes about three weeks for immunity to set in after the vaccine. So plan ahead when planning a groomer trip!