Diagnosing Canine Bordetella

Canine bordetella is a bacterial infection that causes kennel cough or tracheobronchitis in pets. Although bordetella isn’t a life-threatening infection, it has to be treated promptly because it’s highly contagious. Dog boarding facilities and pet shops are places where bordetella bacteria commonly infect pets. Puppies are also susceptible to bordetella, especially due to their low immunity. Before understanding how canine bordetella is clinically diagnosed, it’s important to know the symptoms.

Symptoms of Canine Bordetella

  • High pitched cough
  • Dog retches in an effort to cough
  • Sneezing
  • Nasal or eye discharge
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Rhinitis

Severity of Infection

Bordetella is an airborne infection and most pets exhibit the symptoms after a week of infection. Since it’s an upper respiratory disease, pets have to be diagnosed in time to prevent secondary infection and pneumonia. Pets with weakened immune systems can easily contract canine bordetella along with parainfluenza. The treatment is based on the diagnosis of severity of disease and underlying complications.

Diagnosis of Canine Bordetella

Most pets suffering from kennel cough experience inflammation of the trachea and the air passages. During diagnosis, the vet will enquire about the symptoms observed and determine the pet’s risk of infection due to previous exposure to infected animals. The vet will also induce the cough by using gentle pressure on the dog’s trachea. Since kennel cough is a high pitched cough, it’s easy to detect bordetella during clinical diagnosis. Pets suffering from accompanying symptoms will also undergo tests such as complete blood count (CBC) and chest x-rays. In addition, any discharge will be sent for a laboratory culture test to determine the type of bacterial infection present.

Treating Canine Bordetella

The preliminary treatment of bordetella involves antibiotic medication to kill bacteria. The type of antibiotic and course of medication depend on the severity of infection. Commercially available prescribed medication includes drugs such as cephalexin, doxycycline and baytril. Cough suppressants will also reduce throat irritation and help pets to rest until the infection is cured. Some pet owners prefer to use home remedies or natural products to help relieve the symptoms of kennel cough. This may be effective in pets with milder strains of kennel cough. However, antibiotics shouldn’t be replaced with home remedies or natural products without prior vet consent.

Preventive Measures

Although pets may appear normal after treatment, it’s necessary to administer the entire course of medication to prevent relapse. Care takers can also safeguard their pets with the Bordetella vaccine that’s given in a series of shots. There are both intra-nasal and subcutaneous vaccines available. However, the injections provide longer lasting immunity that’s particularly helpful for pets that are kept at boarding facilities. It’s best to discuss the pros and cons of vaccinating your pet for bordetella with your vet. Some pets are known to recover from kennel cough without extensive medical treatment.

Pets suffering from bordetella should be kept indoors and given plenty of rest and adequate home care to recuperate.