Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a condition commonly found in dogs. This is a condition wherein the affected dog makes constant noise that sounds like choking or hacking this may indicate prevalence of kennel cough. The condition is also technically called as canine infectious tracheobronchitis.  Though these coughs may sound terrible and may seem concerning, these are not serious usually and most dogs may recover without any medical intervention.

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Causes of kennel cough

As there are various reasons for human to catch cold, similarly there are several factors that can lead to kennel cough in individuals. One of the common cause of the condition is a bacteria called ‘Bordetella brochiseptica – m’. This is the reason why kennel coughs are also referred to as Bordetella. Most dogs that are affected with this type of cough are also infected with some other virus at the same time. These are the viruses that make dogs prone to Bordetella infection. Some of these viruses are canine distemper virus, parainfluenza virus, canine adenovirus, canine herpes virus, etc.      


Dogs may get this condition when their respiratory tract gets invaded, while they inhale bacteria or other virus particles. This tract is often lined with a mucus coating that can trap infectious particles. However, there are factors that can compromise these protections and make dogs vulnerable to infection of kennel cough. The condition may also sometime aggravate to larynx and trachea inflammation. Factors that may lead to such outcomes include:


  • Exposure to poorly ventilated and extremely crowded conditions such as in case of kennels or dog shelters
  • Low temperature
  • Exposure to cigarette smoke or dust
  • Stress induced due to travelling

Kennel cough symptoms in dogs

kennel cough

The primary and ever existing symptom of kennel cough is consistent and forceful coughing. The sound of such coughing is different from the sound of general cough, especially in case of little dogs. In some affected dogs reverse sneezing is a normal occurrence. This may only indicate throat irritation or nasal drip. Runny nose, discharge from eye, frequent sneezing, nasal drips, etc. In most cases dogs affected with kennel cough may also probably suffer from reduced appetite and may have dramatically decreased energy level.

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Kennel cough diagnosis

Diagnosis for kennel cough is greatly depended on the kind of symptoms that are seen in the affected dog. Also probing is done to check if the dog was exposed to a certain surrounding or have been with another affected dog.  The owner of the pet, in this case, should provide confirmed report on health of the dog and onset of symptoms. Complete blood analysis will be done which will include blood count evaluation, chemical blood analysis, etc. Urinalysis of the dog may also be suggested if found necessary. Blood test with bacterial culture as well as viral isolation will help in detecting agent that is the core reason behind the issue.


Treatment for Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is a contagious medical condition in dogs. If a dog is suffering from this condition then he should be kept in isolation, away from other dogs. The affected dog should be checked by veterinarian immediately. Though majority of kennel cough cases resolve without any medical assistance, giving the dog appropriate medical treatment can help in speeding up the recovery as well as relieve symptoms while it is affected. Medicines that are often included in the kennel cough treatment include antibiotics that attack Bordetella bacteria and medicines that are suggested for coughs.


Try keeping your dog in humidified area and use harness rather than collar; this will help in minimizing coughing. In most dogs it takes approximately three weeks for the condition to be completely healed. However, the healing time may vary greatly; s in some older dogs the condition may take around six week to heal. It is essential to meet your veterinarian if the condition does not improve in three to four weeks time. This is because if the condition does not heal well then it may also lead to pneumonia. If the dog shows symptoms such as torpidness, rapid breathing, not eating or drinking, etc, then consult the veterinarian immediately as this may be symptom of more serious condition.


A veterinarian may use any of the three forms of vaccines available for treating kennel cough. The first type is injection which is given intravenously, the second type is nasal mist and the third kind is oral drugs. Though these vaccines are found to be helpful, these do not guarantee protection against tracheobronchitis infection. This is because the condition may be caused by other types of bacteria that cannot be handled using conventional medical regimen. It should also be understood that these vaccines cannot treat active infection. In dogs those are likely to bite, intravenous vaccination is given. Puppies are given with two doses initially which are provided four weeks apart and then yearly booster shots are suggested.


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