Everything You Need to Know About Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a common illness in canines that can be described as a “chest cold” for dogs. It can cause your pooch to have sneezing, runny noses, and a chronic cough that has a “honking” sound to it (sound familiar?!) Also called Tracheobronchitis, kennel cough in dogs is highly contagious. Although it can easily be spread to other pets including cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and pigs. it is NOT contagious to humans.

This illness gets its name because dogs are often infected in places where a large number of canines gather, like boarding kennels, dog parks, training classes, etc. It is most often spread directly from an infected dog, contaminated surface (especially food and water bowls), and/or through airborne droplets (ie. from when a dog sneezes). It can spread fast in groups of dogs, especially during the winter months. With the proper knowledge of this common illness, you can take the proper steps to protect your dog during the winter months and all year long. 

Kennel Cough Symptoms

The first symptom dog owners usually notice is the coughing. But other symptoms might be present as well. Those symptoms include sneezing, low-grade fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Generally, kennel cough is the canine equivalent to a common cold in humans. That said, a dog with these symptoms should always be examined by a veterinarian because more serious illnesses, like canine influenza and even heart disease, can also cause coughing in your dog. If you notice your dog coughing for more than a day or two, take it to the veterinarian for a proper check-up.

Treating Kennel Cough

For mild cases of kennel cough, most veterinarians will usually recommend that the infection takes its course. Your dog should be feeling better in about a week or so. However, the vet might prescribe an antibiotic to prevent a secondary infection and there are certain medications that can relieve the coughing symptoms. It’s also important not to use a collar on dogs with kennel cough because it can irritate their throat, increasing their discomfort, so opt for a harness instead.


Kennel Cough

How To Prevent Kennel Cough In Your Dog

Because kennel cough is easily transferred from one dog to another, the most obvious way to prevent this illness is to keep your dog away from other dogs. This is rarely a realistic solution, however, because there are so many places where dogs can congregate. Luckily, there is a vaccine available for dogs that are frequently in contact with other dogs. Some boarding kennels and training schools even require dogs to be vaccinated against kennel cough before being admitted.

Another way to prevent kennel cough is to keep areas with a lot of dogs clean. This means clean food and water bowls, wiping down all surfaces dogs come into contact with an antiviral disinfectant. Taking your dog to the veterinarian for regular check-ups is also important to make sure your dog is healthy with a strong immune system.

While kennel cough isn’t a serious illness, it does affect your dog’s quality of life and can turn into a serious disease if left untreated. If your dog does become sick with kennel cough, keep your dog away from other dogs to help prevent the spread of the disease, just as you do when you get a cold or the flu.

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