What's The Big Deal About Kennel Cough (Canine Cough) ?

Kennel cough in dogs (commonly known as Canine cough) is an upper respiratory infection caused by both a bacteria and a virus. The condition is also known as tracheobronchitis and affects the lungs, windpipe and voice box.

Canine kennel cough (canine cough) is caused by several infectious agents. The most common is Bordetella Bronchiseptica. If canine kennel cough (canine cough) is caused solely by this bacterium, symptoms normally last for only 10 days. However, the animal continues to shed the disease for 6-14 weeks. Most cases of kennel cough (canine cough) are caused by a combination of both the bordetalla bacteria and the canine para-influenza virus. The virus attacks the cells in the respiratory tract and could potentially harm the trachea.

It's important to note that some dogs are carriers of this disease but show no symptoms themselves. However, whenever they come in contact with other dogs they are exposing them to canine kennel cough (canine cough), putting them at high risk for infection.

Transmission of Kennel Cough
How Is Kennel Cough Transmitted?

Kennel cough (canine cough) in dogs is a highly contagious disease. It is transmitted in a number of ways. These include:

  1. The air. Canine kennel cough is an airborne disease. In fact, this is the primary means by which kennel cough spreads. When a dog coughs, he releases thousands of microscopic contaminates into the air. The bacteria and virus can survive on tiny dist particles, dander and survive for hours traveling throughout your facility until inhaled by another host. Once ingested, these agents begin to wreak havoc within the upper respiratory tract.
  2. Contact with contaminated objects. If an infected dog drinks from a watering dish or hikes his leg on a post, and another dog comes in contact with these objects, he could easily catch kennel cough. This is why proper sanitation is critical in keeping your pets healthy. Failing to wipe down counters or thoroughly wash feeding dishes could cause your pet to develop this nasty canine cough.
  3. Direct contact with infected dogs. Be careful who your pet associates with! Sniffing the nose or just breathing the same air as an infected dog can cause your pet to develop canine cough. Boarding facilities, doggie daycares and other businesses where numerous pets are kept in close quarters, must take extra precautions to protect their facilities from the transmission of kennel cough in dogs. If you suspect a dog has canine cough, isolate him immediately.

Symptoms of Kennel Cough
What Are Kennel Cough Symptoms Like?

Although kennel cough in dogs is not life-threatening, it does cause symptoms that make your pet extremely uncomfortable. The symptoms of kennel cough include:

  1. A dry, hacking cough. This is a classic symptom of kennel cough. The cough is generally dry and may be described as a honking noise. Unfortunately the cough is constant and persistent. Some dogs may experience a coughing fit every few minutes. Others may constantly be coughing as they are walking, lying down and going about their daily activities. The cough is probably the most uncomfortable aspect of kennel cough in dogs.
  2. Fever. If your pet develops a fever, he probably has contracted a severe form of the disease. Some dogs with canine cough appear perfectly normal and healthy, other than the fact that they are coughing all the time. A fever indicates that the disease is taking a toll on your pet's body. In this case, you should provide your pet with extra rest and TLC to ensure his swift recovery.
  3. Lethargy. Not all dogs with canine kennel cough or canine cough appear lethargic. Some do, while others appear perfectly normal. If your pet is lethargic he will have decreased energy, poor appetite, lack of interest in activities he is usually excited about, etc. The best thing you can do for a dog suffering from kennel cough is to make sure he receives plenty of rest and good nutrition. This will help his body combat the disease.

While kennel cough symptoms may not sound like much to be concerned about - after all, don't we all have these symptoms when we're suffering from a harmless little cold? - the symptoms of kennel cough are taking a major toll on your pet's body and his mental state. If you suspect that your pet may have contracted kennel cough, do not hesitate in having him seen by a vet immediately.

How Long Does Kennel Cough Last?

Most dogs recover from canine kennel cough (canine cough) within 3-4 weeks. If a dog has a compromised immune system or is extremely young or old, it may take up to 6 weeks for a complete recovery. However, your pet may still be a carrier of the disease several weeks after he has recovered. The answer to exactly how long kennel cough lasts truly depends on the individual dog, but 3-6 weeks is a common timeframe.

Treatment of Kennel Cough
How Is Kennel Cough Treated?

Kennel cough in dogs can be diagnosed by a veterinarian using cultures and blood tests to isolate the bacteria. The disease usually runs its course and the animal will frequently recover on his own. However, there are several options for the treatment of kennel cough. These include: 

  1. Antibiotics. Your veterinarian can prescribe a round of antibiotics to help your pet recover faster from kennel cough. However, because the disease is called by both a virus and a bacteria, your pet will require a dual-purpose treatment.
  2. Vitamin C. If you prefer not to give your pet antibiotics, there are options for the natural treatment of kennel cough. Vitamin C will help strengthen your dog's immune system, enabling him to combat canine kennel cough faster and more effectively. You can give 500 mg per pound of body weight. Whenever you feed your pet Vitamin C, make sure he drinks plenty of water to help the nutrients move through his system.
  3. Honey. Honey can be used to help soothe your pet's throat. Kennel cough in dogs causes intense throat irritation. The constant coughing and hacking makes the throat feel dry, cracked, swollen and extremely sore. Honey is packed with rich nutrients that will help your pet combat the disease and soothe his aching throat. A half to 1 teaspoon of honey several times a day should do the trick.
  4. Herbal Tea. Herbal teas can also be soothing to dogs suffering from kennel cough or canine cough. Teas made from licorice root are especially helpful. You can mix a small amount in your dog's food.
  5. Cough medicine. Kennel cough in dogs is characterized by a dry, hacking cough. If you've ever had a severe head cold, you know how frustrating constant sneezing and coughing can be. Dogs suffering from canine cough or kennel cough feel the same way. They are frustrated, uncomfortable and desperately longing for relief. Cough medicines can provide some comfort. Ask your veterinarian what products are best for canine cough.

Helping Your Pet Recover From Kennel Cough

When you see your dog suffering from kennel cough, you want to do something to help him feel more relaxed. In addition to providing your pet with treatment, there are a number of other things you can do to keep him comfortable, help speed the healing process and help him recover from kennel cough:   

  1. Use a humidifier. This can provide some relief for those irritated lungs. A steamy room, such as a shower room will also help clear your pet's airways.
  2. Keep your pet away from smoke. If your dog is suffering from canine kennel cough, keep him away from campfires and bonfires. You should also avoid smoking around dogs with canine kennel cough (canine cough).  The smoke will irritate his lungs and could trigger a severe coughing fit.
  3. Use a harness. When taking your pet out for walks, use a harness instead of a collar. Collars put extra stress on the neck, particularly if your dog tends to pull on the lead. This extra stress can irritate your pet's lungs and make his coughing much worse.
  4. Create a stress-free environment. If your pet is nervous, stressed or anxious he will not recover from canine kennel cough (canine cough) as quickly. The constant anxiety will break his immune system down, causing him to struggle even longer with the canine cough. You can make the environment stress-free by staying calm and relaxed yourself. Keep yelling, screaming and other noise to a minimum. Avoid doing things that cause your pet to become stressed. For example, if trimming your pet's nails or cleaning his ears causes him anxiety, avoid doing any of these activities until your pet has fully recovered.

Prevent Kennel Cough - Be Proactive!

Treating kennel cough (canine cough) can be costly. It requires a tremendous amount of time, frequent trips to the veterinarian, medication and research. For the pet business owner, kennel operator or shelter, the consequences of an outbreak can be much more devastating. Facilities who experience an outbreak of kennel cough in dogs may need to temporarily shut-down. This means a tremendous loss in revenue, customer satisfaction and your businesses' reputation. You will undoubtedly lose clients, repeat business and referrals. Although the kennel cough outbreak may not be any fault of your own, the affects can handicap your business and income stream. This is why prevention is the best option. So how can you prevent kennel cough?

There are two ways you can protect your business by being proactive\sin the prevention of kennel cough. Both of these methods are critical and both should be used.

  1. Purify the Air. Every kennel, shelter, rescue, veterinarian clinic, grooming shop, pet shop with live animal sales, breeder, or other animal facility should have an air-purification system to exterminate the bacteria and viruses floating through the air. Remember, airborne transmission is the primary way canine kennel cough (canine cough) is spread. And the bacteria can survive on dust particles and dander for quite some time. Ideally, you should look for an air-purification system that is designed and tested against pet pathogens specifically for pet business. PetAirapy offers a number of air-disinfectants that are easily installed into your existing HVAC system. These in-duct air-purifying units sanitize the air flowing through your business – killing or deactivating the DNA of harmful and infectious micro-organisms brought into your building.

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  2. Disinfect everything. Bowls, kennels, tables, and all equipment should be sterilized regularly using surface disinfectants. This is the first step in prevention. But it only offers so much protection against kennel cough in dogs. For best results incorporate the next step into your plan.

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If you are an individual pet owner you can help prevent canine cough by:

  1. Screening the pets your dog associates with. Make sure your dog's playmates are healthy and up-to-date on their vaccines.
  2. Regular vet checks. By having your pet checked out by your vet on a regular basis, you can take some steps toward preventing canine cough, or at least catch the illness in its early stages.
  3. Select a boarding kennel or day care facility with caution. Make sure the facility looks neat and clean and is sanitized regularly. Ask the facility operator if they have a PetAirapy air-purifying or disinfectant unit installed to make their facility safer.