As we enter autumn and with many human forms of colds and flu on the rise, and bacteria in the air, just like humans our dogs are susceptible to illness too. The most common one can be likened to the common cold or flu and is referred to as Bordetella Bronchiseptica, one of a large group of respiratory diseases commonly known as Kennel Cough.  

You may have heard of it, but what exactly is kennel cough, and how can you protect your pet from it? Let’s delve into this common canine ailment to shed light on what it entails and how best to manage it. 

Understanding Kennel Cough: 

Kennel cough is any highly contagious respiratory infection that affects dogs. Some are bacterial and some are viral. Kennel Cough earned its name due to its propensity to spread in environments where dogs are in close proximity, such as kennels, boarding facilities, dog parks, and shelters. However, dogs can contract kennel cough in any setting where they come into contact with infected animals or contaminated surfaces. 

Causes and Transmission: 

The primary culprits behind kennel cough are bacteria like Bordetella bronchiseptica and viruses such as parainfluenza virus and canine adenovirus. These pathogens attack the lining of the respiratory tract, leading to inflammation and irritation, which manifests as a persistent, dry, hacking cough. 

Kennel cough spreads through respiratory secretions, much like the common cold in humans. When infected dogs cough, sneeze, or bark, they release airborne particles containing the pathogens. Healthy dogs can then inhale these particles or come into contact with them on surfaces, leading to infection, grooming each other, sharing water and food bowls, even toys can aid in the spread. 

Symptoms and Diagnosis: 

The hallmark symptom of kennel cough is a harsh, dry cough that often sounds like honking. Other symptoms may include: 

  • Coughing fits, particularly after exercise or excitement 
  • Nasal discharge 
  • Sneezing 
  • Mild fever 
  • Lethargy 
  • Loss of appetite 
Can my dog get the flu?

While kennel cough is typically mild and self-limiting, it can progress to pneumonia in severe cases, especially in young puppies, elderly dogs, or those with weakened immune systems. 

Diagnosing kennel cough usually involves a thorough physical examination by a veterinarian and may include laboratory tests to rule out other respiratory infections. In some cases, imaging studies such as chest X-rays may be necessary to assess the extent of lung involvement. 

Treatment and Management: 

Treatment for kennel cough is primarily supportive and focuses on alleviating symptoms while the dog’s immune system fights off the infection. This may include: 

Rest: Allow your dog plenty of rest to help them recover and prevent exacerbating the cough. 

Hydration: Ensure your dog has access to fresh water to stay hydrated. 

Humidification: Using a humidifier or steam from a hot shower can help soothe your dog’s irritated respiratory tract. Do not use essential oils as many can be toxic. 

Medications: Your veterinarian may prescribe cough suppressants or antibiotics if a bacterial infection is suspected or if complications arise. 

In most cases, dogs with kennel cough recover within one to three weeks, though the cough may persist for several weeks in some cases. 

Prevention Measures: 

Preventing kennel cough involves a multi-faceted approach: 

Vaccination: Vaccines are available to help prevent kennel cough. In the routine C5 Annual Vaccination Bordetella, Parainfluenza and Adenovirus are all components. Although there are a huge number of other possible causes they are not routinely vaccinated for. This is because these are usually either mild or do not have a significant risk of spread to humans and other animals, as can happen with Bordetella. 

Hygiene: Practice good hygiene by regularly cleaning and disinfecting your dog’s belongings and avoiding close contact with infected animals during outbreaks. 

Isolation: If your dog develops kennel cough, isolate them from other dogs to prevent spreading the infection. 

Avoidance: Minimise your dog’s exposure to environments where kennel cough is prevalent, especially if they are young, elderly, or have underlying health conditions. We certainly see outbreaks in late Spring and Summer when people start getting out and about after Winter and again in early Autumn.  

Kennel cough is a name given to a group of  common respiratory infections that can affect dogs of all ages and breeds. While it may seem alarming, most cases are mild and resolve on their own with proper care. By staying informed, practicing preventive measures, and seeking veterinary attention when needed, you can help keep your furry companion healthy and happy. Remember, a little vigilance goes a long way in safeguarding the well-being of our beloved pets. 

If you have any concerns that your dog may have Kennel Cough or another respiratory disease or perhaps you plan to use kennels, day care or the local dog park, please book in for a consultation either online or by calling our awesome reception team on 9369-1822.