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The Complete Guide on How to Prevent Kennel Cough

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The Complete Guide on How to Prevent Kennel Cough

pug in a blanket

Are you a dog lover, through and through? Maybe you recently adopted a new pup. Maybe you’ve had Fido for years already.

Either way, you’ll want to protect your furry friend through thick and thin. That means educating yourself on some of the diseases your BFF can be susceptible to.

One of these diseases is commonly known as kennel cough. This respiratory infection hits hard, and you need to know how to stop it in its tracks.

To prevent kennel cough effectively, you’ll also need to have a bit of background on the subject, familiarizing yourself with the causes and symptoms of this disease.

Ready to get started? Good. Read on to discover everything you need to know to protect your canine companion against kennel cough this year.

What Exactly Is Kennel Cough, Anyway?

dachshund on bed

Kennel cough is the most common upper respiratory infection among canines in the United States. At the vet’s office, you’ll hear it referred to as tracheobronchitis or Bordetella. The infection is caused by the gathering of many different agents, possibly including:

  • Parainfluenza virus
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica
  • Mycoplasma
  • Canine adenovirus type 2,
  • Reovirus
  • Canine Herpes Virus

Kennel cough is contracted mostly in shelters, kennels, daycares, and other places where dogs live in close proximity. The infection is highly contagious, much like the common cold for humans.

Your dog will begin to show symptoms 2 to 14 days after being exposed to the virus. An uncomplicated infection will last around ten
days.

Symptoms Of Kennel Cough To Look Out For In Your Pup

brown dog with an ice pack at his head

So, what do you need to watch out for? The American Kennel Club warns us about these particular signs and symptoms.

​Cough

Long, uncomfortable and persistent coughs are associated with kennel cough. Many people describe a lowing sound similar to the honk of a goose.

If your pup is honking, coughing, or hacking their way home to you after staying in a kennel or being exposed to other dogs, it’s a good idea to keep your eye on him.

​Sniffles

You could notice your dog’s nose constantly dripping, or he could be sneezing a lot. This is usually an indicator that something is wrong, but doesn’t necessarily indicate kennel cough.

However, it’s a good idea to take your pup to the vet is the sniffles persist or if they come coupled along with other symptoms.

​Lethargy

It’s entirely possible that your dog could become lethargic, oftentimes developing a low-grade fever. Most of the time during an
uncomplicated infection your pup will still want to eat. However, it’s possible that he’ll lose his appetite. This indicates a more serious infection.

If you notice any of these symptoms it’s safe to assume something is wrong with your best friend. Take your dog to the vet ASAP. It’s important to get your animal to the doc, because untreated kennel cough may cause pneumonia or other complications.

Preventative Actions To Take Against Kennel Cough

vet vaccinating a dog

​Kennel cough is no fun for anyone. How can you prevent something like this from happening? There are several ways to prevent kennel cough in your beloved puppy.

​1. Vaccination

It’s a good idea to get your best friend a Bordetella vaccine. This holds especially true if you frequent dog parks, boarding facilities, or attend any other public event where many dogs are present.

In fact, many facilities require proof of this vaccine before they’ll allow your dog inside. However, the Bordetella virus isn’t the only thing which causes kennel cough. This means that while the vaccine might prevent kennel cough in some cases, it might not in others.

​2. Boosters

If you do get the vaccine for your pup, remember to get boosters on the schedule recommended by your veterinarian. Boosters are usually required every 6 to 12 months, but this may be different depending on the age of your dog and his specific risk factors.

If your dog hasn’t had the vaccine and the need suddenly arises to board him, don’t worry. You have options. You can give him the vaccine 1 or 2 weeks before it’s time to go in the kennel, and he should be safe from kennel cough caused by Bordetella.

​3. Avoid Boarding

If you’re afraid of the effect kennel cough could have on your dog, you might want to consider avoiding boarding and grooming facilities altogether, as well as doggy daycares and dog parks. This holds especially true if your pup is highly susceptible to the cough.

Highly susceptible dogs include very young or old dogs, short-nosed breeds, pregnant dogs, and dogs with compromised immune systems due to other diseases or age.

​4. No Sharing

If you’re concerned about kennel cough, it’s a good idea to implement a “no sharing” policy. This means that common objects like water and food bowls may not be shared among dogs. It’s very easy for this illness to be spread through water and food, which are constantly awash in canine saliva. If that saliva is infected, more dogs may become infected.

Don’t let your pup sniff other pups’ noses, or lick the genital area. It’s also a good idea to keep your dog away from other dogs’ poop at the dog park, no matter how deliciously fragrant it may seem to him. Poop spreads all sorts of diseases, and may contain viruses which cause kennel cough.

Treating A Case Of Kennel Cough In Your Dog

dog inside a fence

​So, what if you take every precaution and your dog still gets sick? Fortunately, kennel cough is rarely a serious illness. That being said, it is important to treat this disease. If left untreated, it may weaken your dog’s immune system and help pave the way for other diseases to come waltzing into your life.

​1. Isolation

If you think your dog has kennel cough, he must be kept isolated from other dogs. For his own sake and the sake of other pups, don’t take him to the dog park or kennel. Even within your own home, isolate him from the rest of your pets. Cats can get kennel cough as well.

There is very little risk of you yourself contracting any sort of diseases from your dog’s kennel cough. However, if you yourself are immunocompromised or have infant children, ask our vet about potential risks.

​2. Trip to the Vet

Take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as you see symptoms. Your vet can examine your pup’s medical history and, if necessary, perform tests to determine if kennel cough is really the culprit here.

Your vet will advise you as to the treatment you need. This treatment may include different forms of home therapy, as well as prescription
medication.

It is incredibly important that you visit the vet, and not wait for the cough to just go away on its own. While this may happen during the natural course of the disease, it might not happen at all — and you’ll be stuck with a much sicker pup than you started out with.

​3. Antibiotics

Your veterinarian may prescribe a course of antibiotics to help with the bacterial aspects of the disease. Usually, antibiotics are unnecessary. However, in very severe cases it could be vital to ensuring your pet’s safety.

If your vet suspects another respiratory disease which sounds like kennel cough, like Blastomycosis or Valley Fever, he or she may prescribe antibiotics just in case. This medication is always given out on a case-by-case basis.

​4. Cough Suppressants

​In many cases, the vet will prescribe cough suppressants. This is a measure which typically makes your pet more comfortable, eliminating the dry, hacking cough which plagues them. Cough suppressants won’t cure the disease, but they will put your pup at ease.

​5. Steam Treatment

​A steam treatment will soothe your dog’s aching throat, as will an air vaporizer or a humidifier. If you have any of these things on hand
(perhaps from your own past illnesses), it’s a good idea to drag them out once again for your pup’s benefit.

​6. Rest and Love

When a dog has kennel cough, home care is essential. You want to make your pup as happy and comfy as possible during this difficult time. You also want to make sure he’s getting the adequate nutrients he needs to recover as fast as possible.

Your dog naturally wants to get out there and play. You need to prevent this from happening when he’s struck with kennel cough. Lots of activity won’t help anyone recovering from a disease, and it could cause an uncomfortable hacking fit for your dog.

Ensure your pup is as comfortable as possible and has access to plenty of food and water. Even though you need to avoid unnecessary exercise, chances are your dog will still need to go out. During outside time, replace his collar with a harness to prevent irritating constriction of the throat.

Finally, give him lots of love and attention. Every day is a good day to love your dog, but a day when he’s suffering from kennel cough is
when he’ll really need your support.

Practice Kennel Cough Prevention For A Safe And Healthy Pup

puppy in a sofa

​Now that you know how to recognize, treat, and prevent kennel cough, you’re ready to act on behalf of your dog.

Remember, a healthy pup is a happy pup, and stopping kennel cough in its tracks is the first step to a better ownership experience.

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