Your dog is coughing as if clearing his throat to get rid of irritating hair that might be tickling him. If he is coughing persistently, you should never ignore this as it might be the first sign of the most vexing upper respiratory infection, which is commonly known as Kennel cough.
Kennel cough is a very contagious infection, but with the right prevention and treatment, you can keep your dog healthy and alert.
What Causes Kennel Cough in your Dog?
Upper respiratory tract infection in dogs causes Kennel Cough. The infections affect the outer lining of the throat and air passage, creating irritation and cough. The dogs may even face difficulty in eating their food. The superficial damage heals during the recovery phase of the disease without any subsequent problem.
The upper respiratory infection in dogs is known as tracheobronchitis, Bordetellosis, or Bordetella in medical terminology. It s a highly contagious disease which is prevalent in almost every part of the world.
The dogs normally face this infection at least once in their lives.
Tracheobronchitis in dogs may be caused by many pathogenic agents like Bordetella bronchiseptica, mycoplasma and parainfluenza virus. Other agents that significantly contribute to upper respiratory infection in dogs include canine herpes virus, reovirus and canine adenovirus type 2.
Parainfluenza virus is the most common pathogen causing infection, but normally more than one pathogen is found in canine infectious tracheobronchitis.
The incubation period of Bordetella is 2-14 days, and the symptoms of upper respiratory infection appear during this period. If secondary infections don’t complicate the disease, these symptoms will subside after 10 days.
However, complete recovery takes about 6 – 14 weeks.
The dog can infect other animals during this phase.
Kennel cough vaccines, which are administered through the intranasal passage, can provide effective protection against Bordetella. When infectious tracheobronchitis is caused by both Parainfluenza and Bordetella, the infection may last up to 14-20 days.
You should understand that your dog may seem to have fully recovered from the infection, but complete recovery takes about 14 weeks.During this period, your dog may spread the disease when other animals are exposed to him.
Kennel Cough Symptoms
Before you check for the symptoms of kennel cough, ensure your dog has anything stuck in its throat.Below is the Kennel Cough symptoms usually shown up within three days if your pet has contracted illness.
- Eye discharge
- Clear or Yellowish Nasal Discharge
- Snorting and retching after exercise.Your Pet may cough after even at slightest stressful movements and may often dislodge phlegm
- Dry and callous cough
What does Kennel Cough sound like?
Watch below video how it sounds like when your Dog affected with Kennel Cough
Don’t Panic! It is not fatal.
If you find your pet is showing the symptoms of Kennel Cough, you need not get scared. These symptoms usually last for a period of ten to twenty days and in most cases your pet will recover after that. Kennel cough is not a serious disease and never fatal if timely and appropriate medical attention provided.
Do not neglect this illness though since delayed treatment may lead to other ailments like Pneumonia.
How to treat Kennel Cough?
The treatment of kennel cough depends on the symptoms and severity of infection. Your veterinarian would diagnose and decide the most appropriate treatment for your dog. If the disease is not complicated with secondary infections and your dog is otherwise healthy, no medications may be required. Your dog will naturally recover.
When secondary infections are present and the possibility of further complications is strong, antibiotics are prescribed to improve the recovery of your dog. However, use of antibiotics is not going to reduce the time required for complete recovery. Your dog will still remain contagious to other dogs, regardless of the antibiotics administered to lesion infection load.
- You can use over-the-counter cough suppressants and prescribed bronchodilators to reduce the severity of cough and make your dog comfortable.
- You have to suspend the training and exercise regime of your dog until complete recovery takes place. Such exercises will increase the discomfort of your dog as they suffer more irritation while breathing harder.
- There is no need to change the normal feeding schedule of your dog.
- You should also use head collar or harness because the pressure from the regular neck collar will increase their discomfort.
The dogs develop natural resistance against kennel cough and therefore, the possibility of second infection is very low, and if it does recur, the symptoms are not likely to be more severe in comparison to the first infection.
The use of suitable antibiotics becomes necessary when secondary infections complicate the disease with signs of fever or pneumonia, and your dog stops eating.
There is a wide range of antibiotics, but doxycycline or trimethoprim-sulfa is the most commonly prescribed antibiotics in Kennel cough. There should be no problem in using bronchodilators or aerosol therapy to make your dog comfortable, but the use of cough suppressants or steroids may not be advisable due to the immunosuppressant effects of steroids or need for removing mucous in infections involving pneumonia.
In fact, pneumonia can threaten the life of your dog. So, always initiate proper veterinary care when an upper respiratory infection in your dog is moderate or severe.
Does your pet really needs vaccination or antibiotics ?
The upper respiratory infection in dogs is highly contagious and therefore, you should try to prevent the chances of your dog’s contact with another dog, particularly the young puppies. However, regular vaccination of your dog is very important for effective prevention as complete seclusion from other infected may not be always possible.
The standard 5-way or 7-way vaccines provide a very effective protection against adenoviruses and other pathogenic infections like parainfluenza and tracheobronchitis. These vaccines improve the recovery of your pets when they get infected, but you should understand that mere vaccination of your dog is not going to eliminate the possibility of contacting diseases.
Bordatella vaccination can be done through an intranasal spray or injectable vaccines. In both kinds of vaccination, 100 percent prevention against Bordatella is not possible. The injectable vaccines are administered in two doses at a gap of 3-4 weeks. Resistance develops after 1-2 weeks of second booster dose.
Intranasal vaccines impart resistance after 4 days of vaccination. Intranasal vaccine formulated to impart resistance against both Bordetella and parainfluenza are the most commonly used vaccines. Make sure to read instructions before administering any vaccination.
Vaccines meant for intranasal spray will produce an abscess when injected.
You can vaccinate three-week old puppies to impart resistance against upper respiratory infection. Only one dose is required for puppies, and they develop resistance within 3-4 days of vaccination. However, you have to take all precautions while administering vaccines.
Sometimes, dogs develop tracheobronchitis like mild symptoms after vaccination. These symptoms automatically subside without the need for any treatment. However, the dogs showing mild symptoms after vaccination can infect other dogs with the same mild symptoms of tracheobronchitis. Such virus shedding occurs up to 72 hours after vaccination.
This is the reason why it’s not recommended to administer intranasal vaccines within 72 hours of suspected exposure to other dogs. You should also avoid vaccination before 24 hours of boarding, dog show or other activities.
After vaccination, make sure that your dog is not exposed to other dogs for at least four days (preferably seven days). This will prevent your dog from getting infected before sufficient resistance develops. Other dogs will also be protected from any possible virus shedding from your dog.
Safe home remedies for Kennel Cough
In most of the cases, your pet will recover completely within a few weeks from cough if your pet is alert and has good appetite but only suffers from a recurring cough.
Many effective home remedies available around will provide relief to your pet from Kennel Cough if these remedies are administered properly.
However, in serious cases where your pet is not eating and has running fever you may seek advise from Vet for providing antibiotics to avoid Pneumonia.
Steaming is one of the efficient and economic methods of treating kennel cough in dogs. The steam will opens up dog’s bronchial tubes and ones these tubes are clear normally the dog will get great relief from cough symptoms.
Use a warm steam vaporizer available in pharmacies. In a small bathroom or in a crate covered by a sheet direct the vapors towards the dog’s head (ensure you keep vaporizer far enough away to be safe). You may allow your pet breathe these vapors for around twenty minutes. Repeat this procedure for a couple of times in a day for two to three days
Your pet also can benefit from Hot showers for steaming. Close the door of your bathroom, run a hot shower and let the steam build up for a while. Take your dog into the bathroom and let her breathe in the steam for twenty minutes.
There are many readily available herbal remedies that can be purchased from herbal stores.
Plantago Lanceolata: It is made from plantain and a very common herb. It is very effective to soothe the throat and upper respiratory tract. It also promotes a healthy nose, throat and chest.
Bryonia C6: Bryonia is also used to soothe the throat and clear the chest.
Echinacea Purpurea : This is very effective and highly regarded herbs for promoting a healthy immune system in your pet. It especially provides immune support when your dog is fighting or recovering from an illness and can be used with other herbs or alone to help reduce the effects of kennel cough.
You may give a few drops, 3x/day, either directly into the mouth or on food.
6 precautions you should follow to keep your dog away from Kennel Cough
- Cleaner Air: Limit the air-born irritants
- Don’t smoke in your house
- Keep your house as dust free as possible
- Don’t use any toxic cleaners
- Ensure that your furnace is cleaned regularly and given a clean filter
- Install an airpurifier
How long does Kennel Cough last?
The disease can last initially from 10–20 days and can recur when the dog is put into a stressful situation which puts stress on the dog’s immune system.
Warning: Keep your children away from your Pet during infection
Recent research shows that humans, either babies or pregnant women, with a weak immune system are prone to Human Bordetellosis.
Chances of infection are very high for children if they are in closely involved with pet dogs. It is safe to avoid interacting with infected dogs.
Homeopathic remedies can be very effective for treating kennel cough and they do not negatively affect any additional medications your pet may already be on. Follow the instructions carefully when you use these remedies in order for them to be effective. Below are some common remedies you might want to consider.