Kennel cough is a serious condition because it is a highly contagious condition that can be passed on to other pets. Amazingly, many pet owners not only don’t know how to treat or prevent kennel cough, they don’t know what it is.

With this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about kennel cough and everything you need to know to treat it if your dog has it.

What is kennel cough?

Kennel cough is also known as infectious treacheobronchitis. It is a highly contagious upper respiratory condition in dogs.

It can be instigated by a number of pathogens and viruses, including canine adenovirus, parainfluenza virus, canine coronavirus, canine distemper, and influenza A virus subtype H3N8. Bacteria like bordetella bronchiseptica can also cause kennel cough. As you can probably tell (or not), kennel cough is generally caused by a series of complex bacteria and/or virus combinations. This makes it difficult to treat.

Kennel cough got its name from the fact that it can spread quickly between dogs sharing space in close quarters in places like shelters or, of course, kennels.

Kennel cough spreads like wildfire because it spreads in the air when dogs cough and sneeze. The in-flight drops of the aforementioned pathogens, viruses and bacterium can spread through contact with surfaces. And because kennel cough can spread days and even weeks after the evaporation of symptoms, many dogs get it after coming in contact with dogs that apparently don’t even have it anymore!

To make matters even more interesting, kennel cough can spread to humans from dogs and from dogs to humans.

What are the symptoms of kennel cough?

Symptoms of kennel cough generally show up two or three days after exposure to the above pathogens and can progress to generate into other infections like pneumonia.

Symptoms of kennel cough include:

  • Dry cough
  • Retching
  • Snorting
  • Gagging
  • Vomiting from light pressure on the trachea, after exercise or after excitement
  • Sneezing
  • Potential presence of fever
  • Lethargy
  • Trouble eating

How is kennel cough treated?

Obviously the first consideration if you think your dog has kennel cough or any other condition is to take him or her to the veterinarian. A general course of antibiotics, Azithromycin for instance, is typically prescribed. Cough suppressants are administered in cases where the cough is not productive.

It is important to start treating kennel cough immediately by ensuring that other dogs aren’t exposed to the infected pooch. In kennels, ensure that all cages and living quarters are properly and frequently disinfected.

Breathing in steam can help pacify the cough and break down some of the elements, so it may be a neat idea to bring your dog with you into the bathroom while you’re showering. Don’t shower with your pooch, of course, but let him or her breathe in some of the steam that your shower produces. Don’t be afraid to sing in the shower; dogs love that.  :o)

And make sure that you take every opportunity to enhance your dog’s immune system with natural remedies. Include vitamin C tablets in the water and include components like peppermint, raw honey, wild berry bark and probiotics in the diet. Always consult a holistic veterinarian before administering any new treatment considerations.

Some have taken to using human medications, like cough syrup, on dogs with kennel cough. This can be tricky because some medications designed for humans can have stark side effects in animals and we don’t recommend it.  Some medications will impact different breeds in different ways, so don’t give your pet anything designed for you before consulting with a veterinarian.

How can kennel cough be prevented?

We’re not big on recommending vaccines, but there are some vaccinations for kennel cough that you can seek out from your veterinarian, including the bordetella should you decide to kennel your dog.  However, I  hope you choose a better, safer option like a pet sitter for your fur baby instead.  🙂

The best option for thwarting kennel cough is to keep your dog away from the pathogens that cause it. Keep him or her away from other sick dogs and sequester any sick animals as much as possible the instant you notice the symptoms.

You may not be able to avert every case of this contagious condition, but doing your best can prevent it from spreading to other animals – and yourself.

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