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Understanding Kennel Cough

March 28, 2019

Kennel Cough is the common name for Infectious Canine Tracheobronchitis. It’s a contagious respiratory infection that can easily be spread between dogs in close contact, hence the slang name. We at South Rhea Animal Hospital want to make sure our clients have the most up-to-date information on this illness.

How Dogs Contract Kennel Cough

Kennel cough is spread between dogs via airborne viruses and bacteria that are expelled when an infected dog coughs. It can also travel on human hands, clothing, or other objects, infecting our dogs when we have contact with them. The actual organisms that most often cause Kennel Cough cases are the Bordetella bacteria, Canine Parainfluenza virus, and the Canine Adenovirus. Although not every dog exposed to these organisms will get sick, it’s much more likely in close quarters, such as kennel facilities, shelters, or grooming parlors. In addition, dogs with compromised immune systems, high levels of stress, poor health, or those living in poor environmental conditions are at a higher risk.

Symptoms of Kennel Cough

The major symptom of Kennel Cough is a dry, noisy cough that sometimes sounds almost like a honk. This may be accompanied by a loss of appetite. In many cases, a dog’s symptoms will be rather mild and the dog will recover on its own in a few weeks. If a dog is extremely young or is in poor health to begin with, though, the infection can progress to pneumonia, which is much more serious. Let your veterinarian know if you think your dog’s cough is especially serious, if you see nasal discharge, or if you think your dog might have a fever.

Treating Kennel Cough

As mentioned above, some dogs with Kennel Cough don’t require treatment at all, getting better by themselves after a few weeks. Cough suppressants and anti-inflammatory medications can provide a higher level of comfort, though, so ask your vet about these options. In more serious cases of Kennel Cough, antibiotics and inflammation-reducing bronchodilators may be required. Since Kennel Cough is contagious, an infected dog should be isolated from other pets until the infection is eradicated. Try disinfecting potentially contaminated objects with a diluted bleach solution.

Preventing Kennel Cough

If your dog has gotten the normal core batch of vaccinations earlier in life, they’re already partially protected against two of the organisms that cause Kennel Cough: the Canine Adenovirus and the Canine Parainfluenza virus. There is a Kennel Cough vaccine that we recommend, especially for dogs who are at a higher risk. These dogs include show dogs or pets that are commonly boarded, kept in shelters, or groomed frequently. It may also be helpful for dogs who frequently visit dog parks or daycare facilities. It is possible for dogs already vaccinated against Kennel Cough to get the infection anyway, but the vaccine should greatly reduce the severity of symptoms.

Please call us with any additional questions about Kennel Cough and your pet’s health.


865 Rhea County Hwy
Dayton, TN 37321
(423) 775-5619

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