Hack! Snort! Honk! If your dog suddenly starts coughing or is generally feeling under the weather, it could be a sign of a contagious illness. Dogs, like humans, experience colds and flus that they pick up from other dogs in their peer circle. Canine cough, often referred to as kennel cough, is a common diagnosis in canines that is accompanied by a loud, honking cough. You can avoid it in your sweet pet by using some precautions.

Your friends at Union Lake Veterinary Hospital are here to explain what you need to know about canine (kennel) cough.

Canine (Kennel) Cough 

The complex of symptoms referred to as canine cough is clinically diagnosed as infectious canine tracheobronchitis or bordetellosis. This highly contagious respiratory disease spreads through contact with other dogs, such as through airborne nasal droplets, contaminated items or water, and direct contact.  This means playdates, dog parks, pet stores, boarding, grooming, daycare and training centers as well as casual contact through fence lines can be a means of transmission. Just like the human cold, this is a frustrating illness because dogs are likely contagious before showing symptoms. Dogs at greater risk include puppies, senior pets, and those with compromised immunity, but all dogs are susceptible, even those that are vaccinated, because much like the common cold and the flu, vaccines help to reduce the incidence and severity, but do not eliminate the risk completely.

Symptoms of canine (kennel) cough include:

  • Strong cough that sounds like a “honk”
  • Sneezing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Appetite loss
  • Lethargy
  • Low grade fever

Before you decide that your dog has contracted bordetellosis, make sure to have them seen by one of our veterinarians. Canine (kennel) cough can look like other diseases and infections, such as canine flu or distemper. Cough and fatigue are linked to tracheal collapse, bronchitis, heart disease, and asthma. It’s always a good idea to have your pet properly diagnosed for peace of mind and rapid treatment.

Preventing Canine (Kennel) Cough

Preventative measures are the way to go when keeping your pet healthy. You can avoid many illnesses by being proactive in protecting your furry loved one. Steps you can take include:

  • Make sure to vaccinate your dog against canine adenovirus, Bordetella bronchiseptica, and canine parainfluenza virus.
  • Avoid places where dogs congregate together, such as dog parks.
  • Ensure boarding facilities and doggie daycares follow vaccination requirements for all pets boarded there.
  • Take your pet’s water bowl and water with you on outings and prevent them from drinking out of communal bowls at parks.

Bordetella bronchiseptica is the most common cause of canine cough and the vaccine can protect dogs from catching it. But Bordetella is not the only agent responsible for kennel cough so a dog can contract it even if they have had the Bordetella vaccine.

If your dog is diagnosed with canine (kennel) cough, your veterinarian is likely to prescribe rest, cough medicine and maybe antibiotics. If you have other dogs in the house, your vet can advise on how to protect them from catching it. Let your veterinary office know in advance if you think your dog may have kennel cough. They will want to take special precautions to help isolate your dog from other patients.

If you would like more information on canine (kennel) cough in dogs, or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us