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What is Kennel Cough in Dogs & What To Do if Your Dog is Coughing

Is your dog coughing or making a gagging noise that sounds a bit like the honk of a goose? If so, your pet may be suffering from kennel cough. Below, our Memphis vets discuss this highly contagious respiratory disease and what to do if your dog is coughing.

Kennel Cough & Your Dog's Health

You may have heard of it before, but what is kennel cough in dogs? Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis (kennel cough) is a respiratory disease that is commonly seen in dogs. Kennel cough is often caused by the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria and canine parainfluenza virus which attack the lining of the dog's respiratory tract and lead to inflammation and irritation of the pup's upper airway. While this condition isn't serious for most otherwise healthy dogs, it can lead to more serious secondary infections in young puppies, senior dogs, or dogs with a weakened immune system.

The name kennel cough comes from the highly contagious nature of this condition, which causes it to spread rapidly in places where pets are in close contact with each other such as kennels, dog parks, and multi-dog homes. Kennel cough is spread when dogs come in contact with the droplets released through the cough of an infected dog. This can be through direct contact with the infected dog or through contact with objects that the infected droplets have landed on such as dog toys, bowls, cages or blankets.

Kennel Cough Symptoms in Dogs

When it comes to the signs of kennel cough in dogs, the most obvious symptom is a non-productive persistent dry cough that is often described as sounding like a goose honk, or as if your pooch has something stuck in their throat. Other symptoms of kennel cough in dogs can include runny nose, sneezing, lack of energy, decreased appetite and mild fever.

If you spot signs of kennel cough in your dog keep your pet away from other dogs and contact your vet right away for advice.

Because of the incredibly contagious nature of the condition, if your dog is otherwise healthy, and showing mild symptoms, your vet may recommend simply isolating your pet from other dogs and allowing your pup to rest for a few days as you monitor their symptoms. 

On the other hand, if your pup's symptoms are more severe your vet may recommend bringing your pet in for an examination.

How Vets Diagnose Kennel Cough

Diagnosing kennel cough is essentially a process of elimination. There are a number of more serious conditions that share the symptoms of kennel cough, as such your vet will examine your pet for signs of a collapsing trachea, heartworm disease, bronchitis, asthma, cancer, heart disease and more. Coughing can also be a sign of canine distemper virus or canine influenza virus.

Based on the results of your pet's examination and medical history your vet will determine whether kennel cough is the likely cause of your pup's symptoms.

Treatment for Kennel Cough in Dogs

Otherwise healthy adult dogs are typically easy to treat for kennel cough. Your vet may decide that no medications are required and that the best treatment for your dog is rest while the infection runs its course (much like the human cold). 

If your pooch is experiencing more severe symptoms your vet may prescribe antibiotics to help prevent secondary infections or cough suppressants to provide your pup with some relief from the persistent coughing.

While your dog is recovering from kennel cough, it's a good idea to avoid using neck collars and switch to a body harness when taking your dog for walks. You may also what to use a humidifier in rooms where your dog spends time, as this can help to relieve your dog's symptoms.

The good news is that most dogs recover from kennel cough within a week or two. If your pup's symptoms persist for longer a follow-up veterinary appointment is essential. In some cases, kennel cough can lead to pneumonia.

How To Protect Your Dog Against Kennel Cough

If your pup regularly spends time with other dogs ask your vet about vaccinating your pet against kennel cough. While this vaccine may help to prevent kennel cough it is not a 100% prevention since kennel cough can be caused by a number of different pathogens.

There are 3 forms of the vaccine are available, injection, nasal mist, and oral medication. If the kennel cough vaccine is recommended for your pet, your vet will choose the the best form for your dog.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet. 

If you're concerned about your dog's health, we are here to help! Contact our Memphis vets today to book an examination for your four-legged friend!

If your dog is suffering from kennel cough they may have less energy than usual. Black labrador retriever laying on tile floor.

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