Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis
Kennel Cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease. The incubation period of the disease is roughly three to seven days. An incubation period is the number of days from the time the dog comes into contact with an infected dog before signs of the disease will show. Kennel Cough is caused by various viruses and bacteria, but the two main triggers are infection with Para Influenza virus and the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica. These bacteria and viruses cause an inflammation of the airways.
How is Kennel Cough caught?
Kennel Cough can be passed from dog to dog by airborne droplets (coughing and sneezing) or direct nose-to-nose contact – a common occurrence on dog walks! Dogs are at risk whenever they group together, whether in popular dog walking parks, at boarding kennels, training classes or a grooming parlour.
A harsh dry cough (sometimes described as a honking sound) is commonly noticed. It can be quite persistent, with some dogs experiencing frequent coughing fits. The dog may gag and retch and sound as if they have something caught in their throat that they are trying to bring up. Some dogs will bring up white, foamy phlegm. These signs are often worse after exercise, excitement or if they pull on the lead. Sneezing and a nasal discharge may also be present. Some dogs may be noticeably tired, go off their food and have a temperature, whereas others who are mildly affected remain active and still have an appetite despite the cough. In severe cases, pneumonia can develop. Puppies and older dogs are at greatest risk of complications as their immune system is not so robust.
Just like human coughs and colds, kennel cough can be caused by viruses to which there is no specific cure or treatment. The vet may prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication to help reduce a fever and make the throat feel more comfortable. In some cases a cause of antibiotics are given to treat bacterial infection and to reduce the risk of secondary infection. Treatment will depend on your dog’s symptoms, age and general health.
Coughing can be brought on by excitement, exercise and exposure to cold air. Keep your dog rested in a quiet stress free environment. Try not to exercise them too much. A short walk to go to the toilet will be sufficient. You might need to swap their collar for a harness, as a collar may aggravate the throat. Avoid areas where dogs congregate and avoid meeting other dogs to help reduce the spread of infection.