Kennel Cough


Kennel cough, also known as infectious tracheobronchitis in dogs is an inflammation of the bronchi in dogs. It is characterized by a dry “hacking cough.” It can be a serious condition in some cases, but generally resolves on its own.

Dogs often get infected when they are in crowded situations. Like boarding kennels, obedience classes, and animal shelters. Kennel cough is most often caused by a bacterium called Bordetalla bronchispectica. It can also be associated with adenovirus, parainfluenza virus, and canine distemper virus, so kennel cough is often referred to as a “complex.”

The incubation period (the time between the dog is infected and the time they start to show clinical signs) can vary from 2-10 days. The coughing is usually mild, but can be a dry hacking cough so pet owner’s often think that something is caught in their dog’s throat. While most conditions are mild some often lead to pneumonia.

This condition is not contagious to humans. But, among dogs it is very contagious depending on vaccination status and housing conditions. It is recommended that all dogs are kept current on their Bordetella vaccinations.

How is Kennel Cough treated?

Some vets elect not to treat kennel cough, as it tends to be a self-limiting disease. Kennel cough is often treated with antibiotics, cough suppressants, or a combination of both. Your veterinarian can decide what the best treatment regimen is. Cough suppressants are used to control coughing, and the antibiotics are used to kill the infection, or help prevent the spread of it. The most common antibiotics used to treat are doxycycline, or trimethoprim sulfa.


Vaccines to prevent kennel cough

There are two main ways to vaccinate; injectable and intranasal. Usually it is a good idea to vaccinate dogs at least a couple of weeks before they are exposed to large numbers of other dogs.

The intranasal vaccine is fast acting, providing protection starting in less than a week. The injectable version probably provides longer immunity, but doesn’t act as fast. Two doses of the injectable need to be given after the puppy is 4 month of age.

Both the injectable and intranasal are boostered annually for kennel cough, which is also known as infectious tracheobronchitis.

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