Has your dog been coughing or producing a honking sound, kind of like a goose? They may have kennel cough. Our veterinarians in Lakewood share the signs and symptoms of kennel cough in dogs and how it is diagnosed, treated and prevented.

What is kennel cough in dogs?

Canine infectious tracheobronchitis, more commonly known as kennel cough or Bordetella, is a respiratory disease in dogs. It is often caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria and canine parainfluenza virus, which attack the lining of the respiratory tract, causing inflammation and irritation of the dog's upper airways. Although kennel cough is rare in most healthy dogs, it can lead to more serious secondary infections in young puppies, older dogs or dogs with weakened immune systems.

The disease is called kennel cough because of its contagiousness; close contact between pets (kennels, dog parks, multi-dog households) can lead to the rapid spread of kennel cough. Kennel cough is transmitted from dog to dog by contact with infected droplets. This can be airborne or through direct contact with the infected dog or a contaminated surface such as a blanket, toy, or dish.

Symptoms of Kennel Cough in Dogs

If your dog has kennel cough, one of the main symptoms is a persistent dry cough that produces no phlegm or mucus. This cough sounds like a goose honk or as if something is stuck in the dog's throat. Other symptoms may include a runny nose, sneezing, lack of energy, decreased appetite, and mild fever.

If your dog shows any of these symptoms, it's important to keep them away from other dogs and contact your vet immediately for advice. If your dog has mild symptoms and is otherwise healthy, your vet may recommend isolating them to prevent the spread of the disease. Allowing your dog to rest for a few days will help them recover from kennel cough. However, if the symptoms are severe, your vet may recommend bringing your pet in for an examination.

How Kennel Cough is Diagnosed in Dogs

Diagnosing kennel cough is much more a process of elimination. Since many more serious conditions have symptoms similar to kennel cough, your veterinarian will examine your pet for signs of a collapsed trachea, heartworms, bronchitis, asthma, cancer, heart disease, and more. Coughing in dogs can also be a symptom of canine distemper virus or canine influenza virus.

Depending on the results of your pet's examination and medical history, your veterinarian will determine whether kennel cough is the cause of your pet's symptoms.

Treatment Options for Kennel Cough

Otherwise, healthy adult dogs usually respond well to treatment. Your vet may decide that no medication is required, and the best cure for your dog is to rest while they recover from the infection, similar to how humans recover from a cold. 

If your dog has severe symptoms, your vet may prescribe antibiotics to prevent secondary infections or cough suppressants to ease your dog's persistent cough. 

While your dog is recovering, it is a good idea to switch from neck collars to a body harness when taking them for walks. Additionally, using a humidifier in rooms where your dog spends time can help relieve their dry cough. 

Most dogs recover from kennel cough within a week or two. However, a follow-up veterinary appointment is essential if your dog's symptoms persist longer. Sometimes, kennel cough can lead to more serious conditions such as pneumonia.

How to Prevent Kennel Cough in Dogs

If your dog is social and spends much time with other dogs, it's a good idea to talk to your veterinarian about vaccinations that protect your pup from kennel cough. However, although this vaccine may help reduce kennel cough transmission, it's not 100% effective since different pathogens can cause it. 

Three forms of the kennel cough vaccine are available: injection, nasal mist, and oral medication. Your veterinarian will recommend the most suitable form for your dog if they think a kennel cough vaccine is necessary.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog is showing signs of kennel cough, contact our vets Lakewood to book an appointment with your dog.