Kennel Cough is a complex, highly infectious respiratory disease. It is also known as infectious tracheobronchitis. It circulates in the dog population all year round and is easily spread when there are many dogs in one place.
Despite the name, less than half of the recent outbreaks recorded in a survey arose in kennels. Your dog is as likely to contract Kennel Cough in the park, the street, at dog shows, in training classes or from next door's pet.
Although many factors can be involved, the two most likely are a bacterium called Bordetella bronchiseptica and Canine parainfluenza virus.
What are the symptoms?
Once your dog has been infected, it takes 3-10 days before symptoms are seen.
These are usually a persistent, dry, retching, ‘ honking’ cough, fever and sometimes a nasal discharge. In serious cases, without treatment, pneumonia and sometimes death can occur in puppies and dogs with a weaker constitution. Usually recovery from the symptoms is complete in two to three weeks.
Veterinary treatment should be sought if you suspect your dog has Kennel Cough.
Dogs that have received their annual vaccination are more likely to be suffering from Bordetella and may respond to antibiotics. Cough suppressants may also be given
Dogs that have not received their annual vaccinations within the last 12 months may develop Kennel Cough due to the Parainfluenza virus and may not respond well to antibiotics. In these cases duration of symptoms are likely to be much longer and coughing may take several weeks to resolve.
How is it contracted?
Kennel cough is spread from minute droplets in the air which are inhaled or from direct contact with an infected dog. As well as being infectious during the incubation period of around 10 days, it is still spread for up to 10 weeks after the coughing has stopped.
How can it be prevented?
Every dog is at risk, however healthy. Routine annual vaccinations will protect against Parainfluenza virus. Protection against Bordetella and Parainfluenza virus can be achieved with an intranasal kennel cough vaccine.
Most kennels will request that your dog is vaccinated against Kennel Cough as well as their annual vaccination due to the increased risk of contracting the disease. The intranasal Kennel Cough vaccination is usually given at a separate time to the annual vaccination and should be administered at least 1 week before going into kennels.