What is Kennel Cough?

What is kennel cough?
The medical term for kennel cough is canine infectious tracheobronchitis. This term localizes the most common clinical sign, coughing, to the trachea (windpipe) and bronchi (within the lungs). It may be caused by several viruses and bacteria. These include adenovirus type 2, parainfluenza virus and bacterium bordetella bronchiseptica. The infection spreads rapidly from dog to dog in close quarters, such as a boarding kennel, which is the origin of its name.
 
What are the signs, besides coughing?
The symptoms of kennel cough are quite variable. They may include discharge from the eyes and nose, swollen tonsils, wheezing, lack of appetite and lethargy. Coughing can be mild or severe, and it may persist for several weeks. A dog may be contagious before the coughing begins, so even the most meticulous kennels can have outbreaks.
 
dog kennel cough symptoms and treatment
 
What is the treatment?
There is no specific treatment for the viruses involved. No drug will kill them, so they must run their course, which may take two to three weeks. Antibiotics are useful against the bacteria involved, although some resistance to certain antibiotics has occurred. Cough suppressants are used to break the self-perpetuating cycle of coughing that occurs.
 
How can I prevent this disease?
Most vaccination programs include a vaccine against the parainfluenza virus and bordetella bronchiseptica. These should be administered to puppies and boostered in adults.
 
kennel cough treatment and symptoms
 
How effective are these vaccines?
Immunity after natural infection with respiratory viruses, like parainfluenza or bacteria like bordetella, is neither solid nor long-lasting. Therefore, a booster just before placing your dog in a boarding kennel is good insurance against the disease. We recommend a bordetella vaccine annually, especially if the dog frequents kennels, dog parks or doggie daycare facilities. And there are some contagious coughs for which we do not have a vaccine, so know there is always a slight risk when dogs in these situations.
 
How are the bordetella vaccines delivered?
Bordetella vaccination is performed either by injection or intranasally. The latter means that the vaccine is dropped into the nostrils. This permits immunity in the membranes of the nose and throat where the viruses and bacteria enter.
 
If you have questions or suspect that your dog has been or could be exposed to kennel cough, contact us to make an appointment! 
 
This blog post originally appeared on The Drake Center
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