Kennel cough in dogs is a fairly common occurrence. The illness is actually bronchitis, very similar to the upper respiratory illness found in humans. It is called kennel cough because of its prevalence in dogs that share kennel space or other close quarters. Kennel cough in dogs is distinct and easy to treat in most cases.
Kennel Cough Symptoms
Kennel cough in dogs presents with a persistent, dry cough. The sound of the cough is similar to a goose honk. In typical cases, the only symptom present is a cough. Your dog or puppy will appear healthy, with no change in appetite or behavior. You may notice that your dog coughs more after waking up, after playing or after exercise. Kennel cough symptoms can mimic other upper respiratory illnesses.
Isolating Dogs with Kennel Cough
If you notice kennel cough symptoms in your dog, it is important to isolate it from other dogs. Kennel cough in puppies and dogs is highly contagious. The illness can quickly spread from dog to dog in households, kennels and clinics. Most boarding facilities will not accept your dog without proof of a recent kennel cough vaccine.
Treating Kennel Cough in Puppies and Dogs
There are a variety of ways that your veterinarian may choose to treat your dog if it has a kennel cough. Your vet may advise you to let the illness run its course, or your vet may:
- Suggest that you isolate your dog from other animals.
- Suggest that you allow your dog into the bathroom with you while you shower. The steam from your shower can help to loosen congestion and soothe irritated airways.
- Tell you to avoid exposing your dog to cigarette smoke, irritating fumes or known allergens.
- Prescribe a cough suppressant or antibiotic.
- Ask that you replace your dog’s collar with a harness to avoid putting pressure on the throat.
Preventing Kennel Cough
Like human bronchitis, kennel cough is easy to catch. The best prevention is the kennel cough vaccine. Dogs should receive this vaccine at least once each year. If your dog is frequently exposed to other dogs, your veterinarian may suggest that the vaccine is given every six months. The kennel cough vaccine is not as effective if your dog has already contracted the illness.
Length of Treatment
If your dog has contracted kennel cough, you can expect some relief after a week. This is whether your vet has told you to let the illness run its course or your dog is prescribed medication. If your dog does not appear to be feeling better after a week’s time, make a follow-up appointment with your veterinarian. If your dog’s symptoms worsen in that week, do not hesitate to contact your vet.
Kennel cough in puppies and dogs is not typically something to be alarmed about. The illness is a fairly common one, and it has no lasting effects on your canine companion. The best way to deal with kennel cough is to avoid it altogether. Yearly or biannual vaccines are the best prevention for kennel cough.