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What Dog Owners Need to Know About Kennel Cough

Kennel cough, the common name for canine tracheobronchitis, is an extremely contagious respiratory disease among dogs. The disease, also referred to as tracheobronchitis and Bordetella, is typified by inflammation to the trachea and bronchi.

Puppies, because of their underdeveloped immune system, can suffer severe complications from kennel cough. Older and pregnant dogs are also at higher risk, due to decreased immunity to infections.

Symptoms of Kennel Cough

If your dog shows signs of the following symptoms, he more than likely has kennel cough:

  1. A dry, hacking cough that sounds like geese honking
  2. Watery discharge from the nose
  3. Retching
  4. Sneezing
  5. Discharge from the eyes

Dogs with mild cases of kennel cough tend to eat normally and remain active, but in severe cases, these symptoms can include fever, pneumonia, lack of appetite, lethargy, and sometimes even, death. Puppies and young dogs which are not vaccinated, and dogs with compromised immune systems, usually experience the severest symptoms of the disease.

Treatment of Kennel Cough

There are two types of treatment for kennel cough, and which one you use depends largely on the severity of the infection and symptoms. Antibiotics are not necessary when the disease is uncomplicated. If your dog remains alert, and his symptoms are minor with a recurrent cough, then just as with the common cold in humans, the disease will simply be left to run its course.

The vet might give your dog an anti-inflammatory agent to reduce the severity of the cough and to make your dog more comfortable, but antibiotics will only be prescribed if your dog has a fever, is not eating, and is having severe respiratory problems, which might indicate that he has pneumonia.

To help your dog further while he is recovering, avoid collars and scarves or bandannas, which might constrict or irritate his throat, and use a body harness instead of a collar when you take him on outings or for a walk.

Three types of vaccines are available for kennel cough, namely an injection, a nasal spray, as well as one that can be administered orally. Although these vaccines can help they are no guarantee that your dog will not become infected, due to the fact that there are so many viruses and bacteria which cause the disease.

The nasal and oral-type vaccines, which tend to provide more protection against kennel cough, are usually given to dogs once a year, but every six months, to those dogs who are at higher risk of contracting the disease.

Diagnosing Kennel Cough

Diagnosis of this disease depends largely on your dog’s history with regards to exposure to other dogs, and also the types of symptoms he has. Your vet will conduct a complete blood profile which would include a urinalysis, a chemical blood profile, as well as a complete blood count. These tests, together with bacterial cultures and viral isolation, will be carried out, in order to establish the individual agents that are causing the disease.

Areas and Breeds Affected by Kennel Cough

Kennel cough, also referred to as tracheobronchitis and Bordetella, occurs throughout the world, and affects an extremely high percentage of all dogs, at least once in their lifetime.

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