kennel cough

One of the most familiar illnesses to afflict our dogs is commonly referred to as kennel cough.

Kennel cough or canine cough is often distinguished by a deep-throated cough. Many dog owners describe the cough as sounding as if the dog has something stuck in its throat. Written down the cough looks something like this: Cough, cough, cough-hack. The hack at the end often includes the ejection of foamy mucous. 

Dogs are generally given the Bordetella vaccine, either through nasal drops or injection. They are then protected from the strains in the vaccine itself. However, even though they are vaccinated dogs are not necessarily protected from all contagious coughs in general. There are several variations of the Bordetella strains. Vaccines don’t include every strain. They only contain the most common strains. It works in a similar way to our flu vaccine. Some people receive the vaccine and still get sick. 

The difficulty for pet care professionals and dog owners is that a dog can have kennel cough and not have any symptoms. They may not have a cough or can even remain asymptomatic altogether. So a dog can come to the dog park or kennels and play and behave normally. But another dog may be infected by that dog and develop full or a range of symptoms.

Your dog can be fully vaccinated and healthy, yet still, contract kennel cough

All you can do is take the best precautions available and have your dog vaccinated. Because even if it doesn’t completely protect your dog, your dog’s immunity will be boosted. If your dog contracts the cough it may well lessen the symptoms and often the length of the infection time is reduced.

Mild cases of kennel cough will often go away on their own within 7 to 10 days.

Does your dog need to see a vet?  You may first want to see if your dog is running a temperature.  A normal temperature for a dog should range between 100.5 to 102.5 degrees.

If your dogs cough is excessive, partnered with a fever, loss of appetite or any nasal discharge, you should call your vet. 

Antibiotics aren’t usually necessary in the treatment of kennel cough. Just as they are not generally used in treating a mild cold in humans. 

However, if your dog is very young with a naive immune system, an older dog, generally unwell or at risk of infection progressing to pneumonia, then antibiotics may be required.

The great news is that with healthy dogs with good immune systems, it appears that regular socialisation helps to build natural immunity to common strains of kennel cough. Interaction with other dogs is a very good thing to do.

Ultimately, if your dog develops a cough, but is otherwise healthy and normal, your dog should recover nicely.

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