Kennel Cough in Dogs

Kennel cough in dogs affects dogs in all countries. While there are vaccines for kennel cough (commonly called bordetella or tracheobronchitis), they do not guarantee a dog will avoid the disease. The best method of prevention is to keep your dog away from dogs that may be infected and make sure your dog receives the kennel cough inoculation as an added precaution.

What Is Kennel Cough in Dogs

Kennel cough is a respiratory infection caused by a viral organism or bacteria. The most common virus is parainfluenza, but your dog may also contract:

  • Bordatella bronchiseptica (bacterial)

  • Mycoplasma (viral)

In addition, studies find that dogs with Canine adenovirus type 2, Canine Herpes virus and reovirus are more susceptible to kennel cough. This may be because their immune system is already battling another infection allowing kennel cough to easily enter the system.

After exposure to the kennel cough virus, dogs usually show signs of having the disease in less than two weeks. The most common symptoms is persistent hacking with a really dry, hoarse cough. The respiratory infection may be mild and not show other symptoms, but in some cases your dog may develop a fever, lack of appetite, seem extremely tired or develop pneumonia. This is why kennel cough is dangerous to puppies.

Vaccinations for Kennel Cough

Tracheobronchitis vaccinations are given either with an intranasal vaccine or a standard injection. If you opt for the intranasal vaccine, the medication is sprayed into the dog's nostrils. Puppies as young as three weeks can receive the intranasal vaccine and only one dose is necessary. The vaccine takes effect within four days.

The standard vaccination is given to dogs in two injections four weeks apart. The injection takes two weeks before providing protection from kennel cough. Puppies usually receive this injection between the age of six to eight weeks.

With either inoculation, the kennel cough virus is shed through the dog's urine and feces. Dogs that come into contact with a dog that has just had the kennel cough vaccine may develop a mild case of the disease. Most vets recommend keeping your dog separated from other dogs for at least a week.

Treating Kennel Cough in Dogs

Positive cases of kennel cough in dogs require the dog to be quarantined from other dogs until the disease passes. With a mild case of kennel cough, prescription medications are unnecessary. Most dogs improve with rest and extra fluids. Bronchodilators can be used to treat the persistent hacking and allow more air through the irritated airways.

If your dog has a fever, lacks an appetite or has developed pneumonia, prescription antibiotics are given. Doxycycline and Trimethoprim-Sulfa are favored.

Dogs with kennel cough should not be put in a normal collar until the disease ends. Pressure from a collar against the throat is irritating and restricts air flow if the collar is pulled too tightly while the dog is leashed for bathroom breaks in your yard.

Disinfecting Your House after Kennel Cough

Once your injected dog is cleared of the kennel cough virus, usually twenty days, spray all bedding, kennels and food dishes with a solution of bleach and water. Open windows to air out the area where the dog was quarantined during his illness.