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  • Hawkhurst vets discuss kennel cough myths and facts

The very name ‘kennel cough’ suggest that dogs are only at risk of contracting this airborne disease if you put them into boarding kennels, while you go on holiday for example. It’s for this reason that many pet owners don’t get their dog vaccinated, because they don’t see the disease as a risk. Here we look at some myths and facts about kennel cough.

MYTH “I don’t put my dog into kennels, so they won’t catch kennel cough”
The correct name for kennel cough is actually acute infectious tracheobronchitis – an infectious cough of the upper airways in dogs. It can be more virulent in boarding kennels, due to the large number of dogs being homed together, which is why it is referred to as kennel cough, but in truth any dog who mixes with other dogs is at risk of contracting the disease.

FACT “The boarding kennel won’t accept my dog without a vaccination”
Boarding kennels have a responsibility to prevent the spread of diseases amongst their furry guests, which is why most insist on proof of kennel cough vaccination. Oral and nasal vaccines take effect with differing timescales, so ensure you talk to your vet about what is right for you and your pet, and ensure you leave sufficient time before checking your dog in at the kennels.

MYTH “My dog can’t catch kennel cough as they’ve been vaccinated”
Much like vaccinations in humans, the kennel cough vaccine doesn’t eliminate the risk completely, but it will significantly reduce the risk of your dog catching the disease and boost their chances of recovery if they do catch it. Similarly, as with all vaccines, the more dogs that are vaccinated, the lower the chance of the disease being spread.

FACT “Kennel cough can spread in multiple ways”
Kennel cough is highly contagious and can be spread through the air – it’s a mixed viral and bacterial disease, so when an infected dog barks or coughs the aerosols produced are infectious. Obviously direct contact is also a risk – e.g. dogs sharing toys or touching noses during play and shared water and food bowls can be a source of contamination too. 

MYTH and FACT “My dog is fit and healthy, they’d recover easily if they caught kennel cough”
Puppies and elderly dogs are more at risk of complications and severe illness as a result of kennel cough, but dogs with pre-existing medical conditions, which you may not be aware of, are too. Kennel cough is an unpleasant disease and can often interrupt sleep even when dogs are mildly affected. Many dogs will recover naturally, but if they seem uncomfortable or unwell, please seek veterinary advice. As a responsible pet owner, we would recommend protecting your own dog and therefore help protect others too. 

Get in touch with Cinque Ports Vets, Hawkhurst vets, to discuss your dog’s kennel cough vaccination or to book an appointment.