8th Sep 2013

While we do our best to ensure we do not mix dogs who stay with us it we have had a few phone calls from people to advise that their pets have developed kennel cough. We do not currently have any pets staying with us who are coughing and are being very careful to ensure all kennels are double sterilised and ventilated well, however there is still a risk your pet may become infected from walking and staying within the same areas.

Please read the information below as kennel cough will not be covered by our insurance.

The best way to protect your pet is to have them vaccinated against Kennel Cough to help eliminate the chance of the most common strains being caught however even this cannot guarantee 100% protection – very much like the human Flu jab.

If your dog is hacking away or constantly making noises that make it sound like he’s choking on something, he may have a case of kennel cough, or canine infectious tracheobronchitis. Although kennel cough can sound terrible, most of the time it is not a serious condition, and most dogs will recover without treatment.

What is Kennel Cough?

Dogs “catch” kennel cough when they inhale bacteria or virus particles into their respiratory tract. This can occur at any time – from being sat in the vets waiting room, whilst out on a walk if your pet is sniffing where another infected dog has been or from staying in close quarters to another dog. This respiratory tract is normally lined with a coating of mucus that traps infectious particles, but there are a number of factors that can weaken this protection and make dogs prone to kennel cough infection, which results in inflammation of the larynx (voice box) and trachea (windpipe).

These factors include:

  • Exposure to crowded or close conditions, such as are found in many kennels.
  • Cold or hot temperatures
  • Exposure to dust and/or cigarette smoke
  • Travel-induced stress and time away from family or other pets

Symptoms of Kennel Cough

The classic symptom of kennel cough is a persistent, forceful cough, although the virus has an incubation period of 3 – 5 days so this coughing will not occur until after infection has set in. This is distinct from a cough-like sound made by some dogs, especially little ones, which is called a reverse sneeze. Reverse sneezes can be normal in certain dogs and breeds, and usually only indicates the presence of post-nasal drip or a slight irritation of the throat. Some dogs with kennel cough may show other symptoms of illness, including sneezing, a runny nose, or eye discharge. If your dog has kennel cough, he may lose his appetite or have a decreased energy level.

Treating Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is contagious. If you think your dog might have the condition, you should keep him away from other animals and contact your veterinarian by phone as visiting the vets could infect other pets.

Although most cases of kennel cough will resolve without treatment, medications may speed recovery or minimize symptoms during the course of infection.  These include antibiotics that target Bordetella bacteria and regular cough medicines.

You may also find that keeping your dog in a well-humidified area and using a harness instead of a collar, especially for dogs that strain against a leash, will minimize the coughing.

Most dogs with kennel cough recover completely within three weeks, though it can take up to six weeks in older dogs or those with other medical conditions. Because serious, ongoing kennel cough infection can lead to pneumonia, be sure to follow up with your veterinarian if your dog doesn’t improve within the expected amount of time. Also, if your dog at any time has symptoms of rapid breathing, not eating, or listlessness, contact your vet right away, as these could be signs of more serious conditions.