Nearly every dog owner has heard of kennel cough. This is one of the most contagious illnesses that dogs can get, and you do not want your dog to fall prey to this illness. While kennel cough is not usually deadly, it can be much harder on the health of older dogs and young puppies.
Kennel cough can be vaccinated against, and many dog daycares, as well as other kinds of dog care locations, will require that you vaccinate your pet before they can come to stay and interact with the other pets that visit. This is the best way to prevent kennel cough, but it is still wise to know more about this illness in case your dog should ever contract it.
What is Kennel Cough?
Kennel Cough is an upper airway infection that causes a harsh cough, runny nose, and sometimes a fever. This illness is actually called canine infectious tracheobronchitis, and there are several bacteria and viruses that can cause it. The symptoms of all of these different culprits are the same, so they are all lumped together under the heading of Kennel Cough in most cases.
Kennel Cough is highly contagious, but it is easily treatable in most cases and can be vaccinated against with reasonable success. Your veterinarian might not even need to identify which of the various kinds of infective agents have caused your dog’s kennel cough since the treatments are very similar for this condition in all of its forms.
How Do Dogs Get Kennel Cough?
Because kennel cough is so contagious, many dogs get kennel cough by being around other infected dogs. This can happen at the dog park, the dog kennel, dog daycare, or even the vet. Airborne droplets from infected animals can come into contact with water bowls, the floor, or even people’s hands and be transmitted to healthy dogs with ease.
Boarding facilities and dog daycares are some of the worst offenders for transmission of this illness, but you could also expose your own pets at home by interacting with a dog that you do not know who is not showing symptoms at the time of your interaction with them. If you meet someone’s dog out in public, be sure to wash your hand thoroughly before petting your dog at home, even if the other dog seems to be in good health.
What Are the Symptoms of Kennel Cough?
The symptoms of kennel cough are easy to recognize. You should be sure that you do not ignore these symptoms as kennel cough is very easily treated in the early stages but can progress to more serious conditions if it is not treated in a timely manner.
1. Loud, Hacking Cough
The most obvious symptom of kennel cough is the loud, dry, hacking cough that dogs seem to exhibit first. These dogs might also cough so hard that they seem to be gagging or trying to throw up. Kennel cough causes a lot of irritation to the trachea and the throat, which can lead to this kind of gagging and coughing response.
2. Lack of Appetite
As your dog’s sore throat progresses, they might not be willing to eat anymore. You should be sure that you wet their food down or offer them wet dog food until their sore throat has subsided. The throat irritation that is linked with kennel cough can take a few days to subside, and your dog might not want to eat or drink during this time without encouragement.
3. Runny Nose and Eye Discharge
Just as in people with colds, dogs with Kennel Cough can experience a runny nose and irritated eyes. Not every dog experience these two symptoms, but a runny nose and eye discharge are quite common in puppies. Sometimes this pair of symptoms can show up before the harsh cough that is so indicative of Kennel Cough.
Dogs with more advanced cases of Kennel Cough might have a fever. You can look for a fever with a thermometer if you have a reserved dog thermometer at home, but there are other ways to test. If your dog’s nose feels hot and dry or the pads of their feet are warm and dry, this can indicate that they have a fever. Be sure to do a skin pinch test to check for dehydration as well if you think your dog has a fever. Most dogs with a fever will be dehydrated.
Dogs who have Kennel Cough often do not feel very energetic, and your dog might seem very tired. Not all dogs act lethargic when they have caught Kennel Cough, but this is a really common symptom for most pets who are showing symptoms like a cough and a runny nose. Imagine how much energy you usually have when you have caught a cold. Your dog probably feels the same way when they get Kennel Cough.
Get Your Dog to the Vet for Treatment
If you think that your dog has Kennel Cough, you should take them to the vet to be sure that their symptoms do not advance to the point where they need antibiotics or fluids. Most pets can be made quite comfortable with some fever-reducing medication, but you might want to be sure that your dog does not have a secondary infection brewing, such as pneumonia.
Your vet might give your dog some antibiotics to take at home if they think that there is a secondary lung infection going on related to the Kennel Cough. In some cases, puppies will be given IV fluids to help them to feel better before they are sent home. Dogs with Kennel Cough are easily treated in most cases, but you should still monitor your dog’s behavior, such as appetite and energy levels, to be sure that you notice if they start to develop other, more serious symptoms.
Welcome to Kryder & Harr Veterinary Clinic! Our animal hospital has been a fixture in the Granger community since 1981, practicing full-service veterinary medicine for all our pet parents and their furry family members. At KHVC, we pride ourselves on our history, of providing excellent customer service for our clients, along with dedicated, compassionate, and exceptional medical care for all of our patients.