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What Dog Owners Need to Know About Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a highly infectious common respiratory disease in dogs. It is characterized by inflammation of the trachea (windpipe) and the bronchi (airways within the lungs). The most recognizable sign of kennel cough is a harsh, hacking cough. Although it is called kennel cough, this disease can occur anywhere dogs congregate. 


Causes of Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is brought on by Bordetella bronchiseptica, a bacteria that lives in many dogs' throats but doesn't usually cause any problems. These bacteria thrive in enclosed areas where there are many animals. It is commonly known as "kennel cough" because it is often spread through animal shelters and boarding kennels, where animals are kept in close proximity to one another. However, your pet can contract the illness from other infected animals in many environments. 



The most common symptom of kennel cough is a dry, hacking cough (as opposed to the deep, moist cough that usually accompanies canine pneumonia).

Coughing will be more frequent for several days, then gradually taper off until it disappears completely. Your dog will also experience some degree of nasal discharge, which may or may not have an odour. Other symptoms include sneezing, drooling, loss of appetite, and lethargy.



Most cases of kennel cough are mild and will resolve without treatment. Call your vet for advice if you think your dog has kennel cough. They may recommend taking your dog to their clinic for a check-up and collection of a throat swab or tracheal wash. This helps confirm the diagnosis and rule out other problems causing the coughing. Your vet may also prescribe antibiotics to speed up recovery from infection.


Managing Kennel Cough At Home

If your furry companion has been diagnosed with kennel cough, there are some things you can do to help them recover more quickly:


  • Keep them warm and dry – cool temperatures worsen the coughing, so avoid letting your dog get chilled. Also, take care not to get water down their windpipe when bathing or giving them a drink – it may cause them to choke and cough.


  • Provide soft bedding – hard surfaces can make their bodies sore, so give them a comfy cushion or a blanket.


  • Let them rest – take it easy until they're better! Kennel cough is usually short-lived, but it can make dogs feel miserable when placed in an environment with other dogs (such as a boarding facility or pet store); the disease can spread rapidly.


How Can Pet Owners Prevent Kennel Cough?

Prevention is always better than cure, so we recommend vaccinating your dog against kennel cough. There are several different vaccines available that have been developed to protect against this disease. Some only protect against a single cause of kennel cough, while others protect against multiple strains.


If you think your pet has kennel cough, call your veterinarian immediately. Your vet will want to examine your pet and perform chest x-rays or blood work to confirm the diagnosis. 


Midlands Veterinary Practice Offers Medical and Preventative Services for your Pet

Midlands veterinary practice is a dedicated team of experienced, compassionate pet lovers committed to your pets' ongoing wellness care. We offer medical and preventative services for your pet, including but not limited to: dental care, radiology, pet boarding, and telehealth.

Call us or visit our website to make an appointment for your pet.


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