Kennel cough can affect any dog, regardless of whether it was kept in a kennel or not.
It can have your pet sounding in terrible shape, but in fact, it is not a deadly condition and is easily cured. That’s not to say though, it shouldn’t be treated with great caution.
What is it?
Kennel cough is caused by many different types of viruses, just like the human cold.
The most common cause of the ailment is a bacteria called Bordetella bronchiseptica. A majority of the time when a dog succumbs to Bordetella bacteria, they are infected with the virus also. There are many viruses which make your dog more susceptible to kennel cough. These include the canine distemper virus, canine herpes virus, parainfluenza, canine reovirus and the canine adenovirus.
Your dog usually picks up the virus when it inhales the bacteria into it;s respiratory system. The mucus lined respiratory tract traps infected particles.
There are many factors which can make your animal more susceptible to picking up the disease.These include Poorly ventilated conditions, crowded areas, cold temperatures, travel-induced stress and exposure to smoke or dust.
A dog can pick up the disease not only from other infected animals but also from coming in contact with contaminated objects. Bacteria for the virus can survive for up to 48 hours.
You should begin to become alarmed should your dog develop a hacking, choke-like cough. If so it could mean it is already infected.
This is perhaps the most common symptom of the disease, a persistent cough, a cough which has been often compared to the call of a goose. Reverse sneezes are also another sign your dog may be infected. This is a cough-like sound and is usually accompanied by a runny nose and throat irritation.
Other signs include general illness, a fever, lethargy, excessive sneezing and discharge from both the eyes and nose. Energy levels decrease in infected animals, while they will also suffer from a loss of appetite.
Treatment and prevention:
Kennel cough is a very contagious infection, meaning it will spread quickly through animals which reside close to each other. If your dog is infected, to prevent the virus spreading one should always quarantine the animal and consult your vet.
Most cases of the virus, like the human cold, will resolve itself without the need for treatment. Medications though will help your dog to recover at a faster rate and minimize symptoms they suffer. These medicines include bordetella targeting antibiotics and various cough medicines.
To help your dog without the use of medicine, a lot can be said by housing them in a warm, well-humidified area. Using a harness to keep them contained is advised, to prevent irritation of their throat, which may already be sore due to persistent coughing. It should not take longer than two to three to recover or in more severe cases up to six weeks.
Keep a close eye on your pet, as a dog can easily develop pneumonia if conditions don’t improve. If this happens you vet should be contacted straight away.
There are three different vaccines to chose from to help fight the virus. The first of which is usually injected, while one is administered as a nasal mist and another orally. These vaccines do help, though it must be said they do not guarantee protection. None of the above mentioned infections can be used to treat infections, but are just for prevention.
These vaccines can be given once a year, though vets tend to recommend revaccination every six months. Should you not want to treat your dog with medications or the recommended antibiotics, there are other alternatives.
One could give your dog Vitamin C, which will help strengthen its immune system. A dose of 500mg per pound of body weight should be given and will help your dog get back on it’s feet quicker. Honey may also be given to help with the inflammation of a sore throat caused by the excessive coughing. A half a teaspoon per day, will help minimize the pain associated with a sore throat.
Teas made from licorice and other items have also been given to dogs, with great effects.