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Disease 101: Kennel Cough

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If your dog is coughing, hacking, or constantly making choking noises, they may have an unwanted case of kennel cough. Although the symptoms may seem mild, this fast-spreading infection is something you definitely want to avoid as a pup parent.

What is Kennel Cough?

Canine infectious tracheobronchitis, commonly known as kennel cough, is a highly contagious infection caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica and canine parainfluenza virus. These pathogens attack the cilia lining the respiratory tract and cause inflammation of the upper airway – plus a number of mild symptoms that you must catch early to help protect your dog’s health.

Symptoms include:

  • An intense and sustained cough
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low-grade fever

How does Kennel Cough Spread?

Dogs who commonly contract kennel cough frequent boarding facilities, daycare, or other areas where large numbers of canines congregate. The spread of the infection is caused by respiratory droplets, contacting another infected dog, or even touching contaminated surfaces. This means contracting kennel cough from your favorite dog park watering hole or from sharing a ball is quite possible.

Prevention of Kennel Cough

There are multiple ways to help protect your dog from contracting a kennel cough infection:

  • Minimize the amount of time your dog is in confined areas with other canines.
  • If you must board your dog, or if you compete in canine sports, ask the facility if it has a regular cleaning schedule. Even if they do, you can always bring your own sanitizing materials to help minimize the spread of any possible infection.
  • There is a vaccine available, which is very common and part of most wellness care that come in three different application methods: oral, intranasal, and injectable forms.

Diagnosis of Kennel Cough

It is important to contact the Westfield Veterinary Group team if you observe one or more kennel cough symptoms. We will do a number of tests to diagnose whether or not the symptoms are being caused by kennel cough – or another health concern with similar signs, such as heart disease, fungal infections, or a collapsed trachea.

Treatment of Kennel Cough

Treatments vary depending on the severity of your dog’s case.

Mild cases may not receive treatment at all. Similar to a human cold or flu, the virus will run its course with enough fluids and rest. If you choose to take your dog on a walk, it is encouraged to use a harness instead of a collar to minimize irritation to the neck and trachea.

Moderate to severe cases may require antibiotics and cough medication. More severe cases can turn into pneumonia if your pup’s immune system is weak – so it’s critical that they are getting enough rest while fighting off the infection.

Westfield Veterinary Group is Here to Help Prevent – and Treat – Kennel Cough

If you believe your canine companion is experiencing symptoms of kennel cough, or if you plan to board your pet, contact our Union location for an appointment. And if you haven’t already, ask your Westfield Veterinary Group veterinarian for more information on the kennel cough vaccine at your next wellness examination.

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