Kennel Cough, or canine infectious tracheo-bronchitis, is a highly contagious disease of a dog's respiratory tract caused by a variety of viruses and bacteria. As the name suggests, it was historically seen primarily in dogs that had been boarded at a kennels, or had come from a rescue centre. However the disease is highly prevalent and its not just dogs in a kennel situation that are at risk from the disease. In fact almost all pet dogs are at some risk, making the name Kennel Cough rather misleading, outdated, and something of a modern misnomer.
The method of transmission of Kennel Cough makes it very easy for dogs to pass it on to each other. Infection can occur following any close contact with another dog, as the disease is spread by airborne droplets from coughing, sneezing or direct nose-to-nose contact. This means that as well as being prevalent at boarding kennels and rescue centres, it can also be passed on easily at shows, training classes, grooming parlours and even just on walks. With more dog owners than ever before now employing dog walkers, and a huge increase in the number of people getting their dog professionally groomed, Kennel Cough is now a disease that the majority of the dog population is exposed to.
What causes Kennel Cough?
Bordetella bronchiseptica (Bb) is the most common and significant underlying cause of Kennel Cough. However, a variety of organisms can contribute to the disease, including canine parainfluenza virus, canine adenovirus 1 and 2, canine influenza and canine herpesvirus. Secondary bacterial infections are also very common.
Bb can also infect other species including cats and can be a rare risk to immune compromised humans (such as HIV-positive and chemotherapy patients).
Symptoms include a harsh, dry, whooping-type cough which can cause retching, loss of appetite, raised temperature, tiredness and occasionally, pneumonia. Most healthy adult dogs are able to fight this off, although many will require veterinary treatment to help them do so. The incubation period is 3-10 days, and the disease can last for up to 6 weeks. On occasion, more serious complications such as pneumonia develop, which may prove fatal in old, weak or very young dogs.
Antibiotics and anti-inflammatories are often used to treat kennel cough, and may alleviate the symptoms. However dogs may still be potentially contagious, and should be kept away from other dogs whilst affected.
There are many possible causes for a cough in dogs, but if you think your dog has kennel cough, always contact your vet for advice.
The disease is highly infectious and it is strongly advised to keep infected dogs away from healthy dogs. Ventilation and hygiene are important in reducing the risks of this disease.
Vaccination is available and is effective, and is given intra-nasally (a quick squirt up the nose!) Kennel Cough vaccination, like human Flu vaccination, will not necessarily completely prevent your dog getting the disease. However it will vastly reduce the likelihood of your dog getting Kennel Cough, and if they do, the symptoms should be far less severe than if they were unvaccinated.
Kennel Cough vaccination, in addition to the routine injectable vaccination, is a requirement of most boarding establishments these days. It needs to be administered at least two weeks prior to kennelling, and it is advisable to check with the kennels on this, as some require it to be given even further ahead.
We advise routine annual Kennel Cough vaccination for all at-risk dogs. This includes those attending boarding kennels, dog shows, training classes, and grooming parlours, but also those being walked with other dogs, or mixing with other dogs when out and about. The vaccination can either be given at the same time as your dog’s routine injectable vaccinations, or on a different occasion.
Please phone us on 02476 464789 should you wish to book your dog in for Kennel Cough vaccination, or to discuss any other aspect of your pet’s healthcare.