Synonymous with the summer holiday season, and particularly common around this time of year, kennel cough – highly contagious in nature – travels quickly around a busy kennelling yard.
At its best, kennel cough can be an aggravating for your dog, but at its worst – this virus can kill. In this week’s blog, we take a look at this common disease, and at methods for treatment and prevention.
What is kennel cough?
Similar to a chest infection in humans; kennel cough is a form of infectious bronchitis. Multiple types of viruses and bacteria can cause the condition, which brings with it a broad scope of severity. The virus causes inflammation of the trachea and bronchi.
This airborne virus exhibits itself as a slightly high temperature combined with a continuing hacking cough. The coughing sound is often mistaken for sneezing, retching, gasping for breath, or a choking fit. The cough usually worsens with exercise and is accompanied by white foam.
Fit and healthy dogs will fend off the illness, usually within a few weeks. However, in the case of old, or vulnerable animals, the illness can morph into something more sinister, i.e., pneumonia.
What to do if your dog contracts kennel cough
- Avoid contact with other dogs – This virus is HIGHLY contagious! As much as possible, avoid other dogs during this time. Alternate your dog walking route if necessary.
- Keep your pets living area well ventilated – Humid, still or warm conditions can further irritate your dog’s windpipe; causing discomfort and possibly prolonging the illness.
- Avoid getting your dog too excited – Lengthy bouts of physical activity can exacerbate the condition – especially in the crisp morning air. Keep your pet as calm as possible.
- Use Harnesses, rather than collars for walks – Collars tend to ‘throttle’ a dog with a tendency to pull on the lead; this can have an aggravating effect on the cough. A harness exerts way less pressure on your pet’s throat, making it a kinder option, with or without kennel cough!
- Vet etiquette – Bearing in mind how infectious the virus is – be sure to keep your dog away from other animals as much as possible. Avoid spreading the illness around the waiting room!
Can my dog catch kennel cough multiple times?
Just like the human common cold – there are many different strains of kennel cough – so your pet can catch the infection multiple times. However, if your dog has contracted the Bordetella bronchiseptica strain, they’ll typically be immune to reinfection for six to 12 months.
Your vet may prescribe antibiotics to kill the Bordetella bacteria if they consider it necessary, although most healthy dogs will recover from kennel cough without any intervention.
Cough suppressants and anti-inflammatories can alleviate the discomfort for your pet on their road to recovery. A healthy dog should recover within seven days.
Vaccinations are the most effective method of protecting your dog from the virus. Not only do vaccinations protect your dog from sickness; they also help to prevent the spread of kennel cough.
Vaccinations are available for the most common bacteria – Bordetella bronchiseptica – which causes kennel cough. However, due to the myriad viruses and bacteria that can cause the condition, the vaccine doesn’t guarantee full protection.
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