Canine Kennel Cough Treatment

Canine kennel cough is the most common canine upper respiratory illness, which can last several weeks if left untreated. In mild cases, no treatment may be required, but serious infections usually require veterinary assistance.

Contracting Kennel Cough

As the name indicates, kennel cough is usually contracted in areas frequented by a lot of dogs, such as boarding facilities, veterinary clinics and dog daycares. If your dog frequently visits one of these places, check with others who use the facility to find out if their dogs have ever contracted the illness there.

Most boarding facilities don't allow infected dogs because the infections can spread so rapidly and be so difficult to eliminate. However, some unclean facilities have frequent outbreaks, and it's important to research local dog-related facilities to avoid ones that may spread an illness to your dog.

Prevention is the best treatment for kennel cough since a vaccination and nasal vaccination are both available to prevent kennel cough and parainfluenza. Veterinarians recommend giving the vaccination every six months if your dog frequents dog-related facilities.

Puppies are especially susceptible to kennel cough and can even die if left untreated, so avoid exposing your puppy to unknown dogs until he is properly vaccinated.

Symptoms of Kennel Cough

The most common symptom is a dry, hacking cough, which is often accompanied by nasal discharge, gagging or dry heaving. In mild cases, dogs will continue to eat, play and engage in daily activities. In severe cases, symptoms may include lethargy, loss of appetite, fever and pneumonia.

These symptoms can be similar to other respiratory illnesses, so if you aren't sure, visit your veterinarian for treatment options.

Treatment of Kennel Cough

Often there is no treatment available for kennel cough because in mild cases, the disease just has to run its course. In mild cases, a treatment of antibiotics may shorten the course of the disease or not. Cough suppressants or bronchodilators may also be recommended.

In severe cases, where signs of fever or pneumonia are available, antibiotics are usually recommended. Cough suppressants are not recommended in more severe cases because there is a risk of immunosuppression that will not allow extra fluid or mucous to drain out.

If your dog is diagnosed with kennel cough, limit his activity, even if he seems fine, and isolate him from other dogs to whom he may pass the infection. Keep a humidifier or vaporizer near his crate or sleeping area to reduce symptoms. Provide him with plenty of fresh water and encourage him to drink. Add enticements to his food if he seems uninterested in eating.

In addition, home remedies are available, including honey or peppermint tea, both of which soothe the sore throat. These can be administered through an eye dropper or just preparing a warm cup. The two may be combined for a double dose if desired and can be given as often as every hour.

If your dog has phlegm associated with his cough, use Yerba Santa tea instead. Yerba Santa is also available in a tincture, which can be added to your dog's water every hour.

Kennel cough can be uncomfortable for your dog, but symptoms can be relieved either through veterinary or home care treatment. Since the disease usually just has to run its course, do what you can to relieve your dog's symptoms until he heals.