Kennel cough: Does my dog need treatment?

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What is kennel cough?

Kennel cough is the common name for canine infectious tracheobronchitis, a highly contagious illness in dogs but that with a diagnosis and the correct treatment will be cured in a few weeks.

There are many agents that can cause the illness: the parainfluenza virus, bordetella bronchiseptica, type 2 canine adenovirus and mycoplasma. Although any one of these organisms can cause symptoms of kennel cough, in the majority of cases it occurs as a result of a combination of more than one of these things. Infectious agents are eliminated from the body through respiratory secretions and passed on to new patients by inhaling, just like the flu among humans.

 

Kennel cough symptoms

How do I know if my dog has this illness?
If your dog suffers from infectious tracheobronchitis it is likely they will show the following symptoms:

  • Persistent dry cough
  • Heaving
  • Watery nasal discharge
  • In mild cases there won’t be signs in their activity levels and they will eat normally
  • In severe cases, symptoms can progress and cause a lack of appetite, fever, lethargy, pneumonia, and even lead to death

Here is a video of a Beagle with a cough and heaving typical of the disease:

 

Vaccine for kennel cough:

The best tool to prevent kennel cough is not exposing your dog (especially when it’s a puppy) to other infected dogs, as well as avoiding places with a large conglomeration of dogs such as kennels, dog shows, sports competitions with dogs, etc. Likewise, it is very important to keep your dog’s vaccine calendar up to date. If you vaccinate your dog annually you shouldn’t worry as both canine pentavalent and heptavalent protect against several of the agents causing kennel cough, mainly against parainfluenza and adenovirus. These vaccines alone do not provide complete protection against the illness although they help to reduce the severity if your dog becomes infected.

For those cases where it’s not possible to isolate the dog in places where there are lots of dogs around, it is advisable to vaccinate your own dog with the vaccine specifically for kennel cough. It is an intranasal vaccine, containing both parainfluenza as well as bordetella and creates a localised immunity that greatly reduces the incidence of clinical symptoms and illness. It can be used in puppies from 3 weeks of age and only one dose is needed. The protection begins to kick in 3-4 days after the vaccination.

In puppies, older dogs or pregnant bitches, this illness can cause serious problems as the immune system in these cases is either not yet completely developed or is weakened. Vaccines in these cases are very important, as well as avoiding putting our dog in contact with unvaccinated dogs or dogs that show symptoms of the illness.

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Treatment of kennel cough:

Treatment for kennel cough should always be prescribed by a vet.
It is essential, if you suspect that your dog may suffer from this disease, to go to the vet and inform them of your dog’s symptoms and also tell them if they have come into contact with a sick dog or if they have recently been in a kennel or another place with lots of other dogs around.
The vet will assess, depending on the general condition of the dog and its symptoms, and prescribe medication to improve symptoms.
Once the dog has visited the vet and treatment begins it is normal for the disease to not last more than a few weeks.

Is kennel cough is contagious to humans?

Until recently it was believed that kennel cough could not be spread to humans, but recently new research has appeared suggesting that Bordetella bronchiseptica can cause the illness in some humans, especially in those whose immune system is weakened. In normal, healthy adults there does not seem to be any risk, but young children and immunodeficient individuals should take precautions as to avoid contact with animals that have symptoms or that are suspected to suffer from infectious tracheobronchitis.

Kennels and kennel cough:

One of the main problems that conventional kennels are facing is the prevention and control of kennel cough. The agents that cause it can be transmitted via hands and clothes as well as through the air and the space conditions for housing dogs that are generally offered favour this contagion. To avoid it, strict hygiene, cleaning and disinfection of cages, as well as bowls and containers for food and water are essential. What’s more, cages situated inside must be well ventilated and staff should wear gloves and wash their hands regularly to help prevent its spread.

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At Gudog we have caregivers all over the UK, no cages or stress, nor a conglomeration of dogs, so your dog can be attended to 24/7 in a home and an environment they are accustomed to. If you have to go away for a few days or for some reason you have to leave your dog do not hesitate, search for a caregiver with Gudog.

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