As my pug, Pixel, is currently suffering from kennel cough, I thought I would find out a little bit about the disease for this blog.
Kennel cough, otherwise known as Infectious tracheobronchitis, is an infection of the upper respiratory tract. It is caused by the Bordetella bronchiseptica and canine parainfluenza virus and is extremely infectious, spreading through the air. It can be spread through even the slightest contact with another dog, and so it is advised that if your dog is infected, you keep away from other dogs until it is better, to avoid passing on the disease. It can also be spread through sharing objects, such as toys and water bowls, with an infected dog.
The symptoms include a persistent cough that sounds as though the dog has something stuck in their throat. This will develop 3-10 days after initial infection. The symptoms will get worse with exercise or excitement, so it is advised only to take your dog on short walks, to places they will not meet other dogs.
There is no test for kennel cough, and so instead the vet must rule out other causes of the cough, such as a collapsed trachea or cancer. The vet will also be able to rule out lungworm, provided that your dog is up to date on their flea treatment (Advocate also prevents lungworm, as well as other parasites, and should be administered once a month).
The treatment is a course of antibiotics, but this is not always effective as there is a viral strain, which is not susceptible to antibiotics. Some bacteria may be resistant to broad spectrum antibiotics, so a different antibiotic may have to be administered. In any case, the disease is self-limiting, and so will clear without assistance within 7-14 days. If the symptoms increase, you should take your dog to be re-examined. Kennel cough can sometimes lead to pneumonia, although this only usually occours in older dogs or puppies, both of which have a weakened or inefficient immune system.
There are three vaccinations available for kennel cough:
- an intranasal one which is simply squirted into the dog’s nose
- an injectable form
- a new oral form.
None of these provide complete protection, but they significantly reduce the chances of infection in your dog.