What is Kennel Cough?
Kennel cough is a respiratory illness in dogs that is similar to a chest cold in humans. As a form of bronchitis, it can be caused either by a virus or bacteria. It gets the name “kennel cough” because of its highly contagious nature—and because kennels are often crowded, many dogs catch the infliction there. Fortunately, kennel cough is a fairly mild affliction—with a little TLC, your dog should feel better in no time.
The main symptom of kennel cough is a dry cough. Some dogs also have symptoms such as sneezing and a runny nose—just like us when we catch a cold. Usually, you won’t notice much of a change in your dog’s overall health, apart from the cough. For example, they will usually still have an appetite, be able to enjoy daily walks and other everyday activities. There may be some phlegm, but this is not usually cause for concern.
How can my dog catch kennel cough?
Kennel cough is very contagious, so your dog is quite likely to catch kennel cough if it comes into contact with his infected furry friends. Because of this, dogs infected with kennel cough should be isolated from other pets.
As the name would suggest, many dogs develop kennel cough in kennels—crowded, poorly ventilated spaces will increase your dog’s chances of catching kennel cough.
Luckily, most cases of kennel cough will clear up over time; however, there are ways to help ease your dog through its bout of sickness. For example, using a vaporizer can be a great, natural way to soothe your dog’s breathing passage. It will help with the symptoms of kennel cough and help your dog be more comfortable—the vapor will help suppress your dog’s coughs.
There are also prescription cough suppressants and antibiotics out there to help your dog return to full health more quickly—contact your local vet if you are interested in such options.
You can also get your dog vaccinated—either through injection, or by nasal spray—against kennel cough. Unfortunately, vaccines are not a guarantee against sickness; much like the flu, there are so many strains that a vaccination might not protect your dog from falling ill.
How long will it last, and should you see a vet?
Kennel cough will typically run its course within three or so weeks. Sometimes older dogs, or dogs with more compromised immune systems, can take up to six weeks to fully recover.
Be sure to keep a close eye on your dog. If you feel that the infection is taking too long to clear up—the bronchitis form of kennel cough can develop into pneumonia. It should also be noted that if your dog is showing additional symptoms (such as rapid breathing, a decreased appetite or listlessness), you should make sure and contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Kennel cough, though uncomfortable for your dog, is generally not a dangerous affliction. Plus, there are lots of ways (vaporizers, antibiotics, vaccinations. etc.) to help both prevent and treat kennel cough. Get well soon, Lassie!
Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer from Southern California whose writing specializes in pet health, travel, vacationing and fitness. She has two Great Danes of her own that she treats with vaccinations before they take a visit to a kennel. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook today!