“Kennel Cough” the name given to an upper respiratory tract infection. Many different things can cause it, but the most common is a bacterium called Bordetella.
It is highly contagious and is usually found where many dogs are together such as boarding facilities, doggy daycare centres, dog shows and parks. It affects the mucus membrane areas of the throat. The coughing, hacking and sounds of choking that they make can be quite worrisome, but they are usually able to fight the milder bouts of it without treatment. However, if the dogs become off their food, not improving or getting worse, then they should be seen by the vet.
They can pass along the “kennel cough” for up to 2 weeks so care should be taken for both where they AND you go, as you can carry it and pass it along to your friends and neighbour’s dogs without you dog even leaving your home.
We are often able to get by with supportive treatment. Meaning if the cough is bad we use a cough suppressant if it has moved to become more advanced with use antibiotics, and in some cases, if doing very poor may need to use fluids to rehydrate. Usually, dogs will be improved within 3 weeks, but in some cases, it may take up to 6 weeks if your dog has other factors of concern as well such as being older or having an underlying disease.
There is a vaccine that can be used before you come into one of the possible situations. It can be done yearly and will be for Bordetella (the most common cause of the infections), though if your dog is always in the high-risk places, we can do it up to every 6 months.
Written by: Lisa Clifford, RVT