Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis (aka ‘kennel cough’) is a respiratory disease that is commonly seen in dogs. Kennel cough is more often caused by the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria and canine para influenza virus which attack the lining of the respiratory tract, causing inflammation and irritation of the dog’s upper airway. Although kennel cough is rarely serious for most otherwise healthy dogs, it can lead to more serious secondary infections in young puppies, senior dogs, and dogs with a weakened immune systems. .
The disease is called kennel cough because of how contagious it is; anywhere that pets are in close contact (e.g. kennels, dog parks, multi-dog homes,) can cause kennel cough to spread rapidly. Kennel cough is transmitted from dog to dog through contact with infected droplets in the air. This can be through direct contact with the infected dog or through contact with objects that the infected droplets have landed on such as dog toys, bowls, cages, blankest, or even clothes.
What are Kennel Cough Symptoms in Dogs?
The main symptom of kennel cough is a non-productive (no phlegm or mucus) persistent dry cough. The sound has been compared to a goose honk, or like your dog has something stuck in their throat. Some other symptoms of kennel cough can include runny nose, sneezing, lack of energy, decreased appetite, and mild fever.
If your dog exhibits symptoms of kennel cough, keep your pet away from other dogs and contact your vet right away for advice.
If your dog is showing mild symptoms and is otherwise in good health, your vet may recommend isolating your dog from other pets to prevent the spread of this extremely contagious disease. In most cases, allowing your dog to rest for a few days will aid in recovering from kennel cough, but if your pup’s symptoms are more severe your vet may recommend bringing your pet in for an examination.
How do Vets Diagnose Kennel Cough?
Diagnosing kennel cough is more or less a process of elimination. Since there are a number of more concerning conditions that have similar symptoms to those of kennel cough, your vet will examine your pet for signs of a collapsing trachea, heartworm disease, bronchitis, asthma, cancer, heart disease, and more. Coughing in dogs can also be a symptom of canine distemper virus or canine influenza virus.
Based on the results of your pet’s examination and medical history, your vet will determine whether kennel cough is the likely cause of your pet’s symptoms. Due to a significant increase in kennel cough cases in our area, Pinehills Veterinary Hospital recommends vaccinating your dog with the Bordetella vaccine every six months instead of yearly particularly if your dog goes to boarding, daycare, dog parks, grooming, or any other places where they are in contact with other dogs.