ennel cough is a highly contagious infection that causes inflammation of a dog’s voice box and windpipe. It’s a form of bronchitis and is similar to a chest cold in humans. Though it usually clears up on its own, older dogs, dogs with an already compromised immune system, and very small dogs can be more adversely affected by this sometimes frightening sickness.
What Are the Symptoms?
1. A dry cough with a “honking” sound
2. Coughing up a white, foamy phlegm—often after exercise or excitement
3. Putting tongue out and in, as if there is something caught in the throat
4. Occasionally fever and nasal discharge.
What Action Should I Take?
Don’t panic! Kennel cough is usually not life-threatening but it is very contagious so immediately isolate the sick dog from all other dogs and call your veterinarian.
How Does it Spread?
Kennel Cough can spread through the air when an infected dog coughs or sneezes or through contact with contaminated items, such as kennels, dog dishes, or direct dog to dog contact.
Most kennels will not board your pet without proof of a recent vaccination against parainfluenza and bordetella, two of the main causes of kennel cough.
How Is It Prevented?
Vaccinations are available for kennel cough. To keep your dog relatively safe from contracting this infection, have him/her vaccinated yearly for Kennel Cough.
How Is It Treated?
Once your dog has contracted Kennel Cough, the vaccination will not protect against that bout. There are medications that your vet can prescribe to relieve symptoms and help speed the recovery process. Do not allow your dog to tug against a leash, putting pressure on his collar. That will worsen the symptoms.
How Long Does Kennel Cough Last?
In most cases, the signs of kennel cough gradually decrease and disappear after three weeks, but in rare cases, may take up to six weeks to disappear. A dog with Kennel Cough could remain infectious after the symptoms disappear so care should be taken not to expose other dogs to the recovering dog.
It could be a very frightening experience to see your dog gagging and coughing because of Kennel Cough, but once you take your dog to the vet and get it treated, it relieves the symptoms fairly quickly. If you board your dog, have it groomed regularly, or love to take your dog on play dates to the dog park, it is especially important to keep up yearly Bordetella vaccinations, as these are places that are common breeding grounds for Kennel Cough.
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