Kennel Cough: Causes, Symptoms and Home Remedies
Kennel Cough is Common in Dog Shelters
Learn More About This Annoying Upper Respiratory Condition
When Sasha, a three-year old golden retriever, started coughing, her owner thought she had something stuck in her throat. She was coughing and then gagging as if her throat was irritated by something. When the cough did not resolve within 24 hours, he took Sasha to the vet concerned there must be something blocking her airway.
"My dog seems like he has something stuck in his throat" is something vets often hear from owners, and more often than not it means the dog has kennel cough.
Medically known as bordetella or infectious tracheobronchitis, kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection common in dogs that are gathered together in kennels (hence the name kennel cough) or at dog parks, dog shows, or just about anywhere where airborne viruses can spread from one dog to another.
Dogs affected by kennel cough will often develop symptoms about three to seven days after exposure. The most common symptoms are:
- Dry hacking cough
- "Something stuck in throat" behavior
- Coughing after exercise
- Nasal discharge
- Mucus expelled from mouth following cough
- Lethargy (in severe cases)
- Loss of appetite (in severe cases)
- Fever (in severe cases)
- Pneumonia (in very severe cases)
- Death (in very rare instances)
In Sasha's case, her symptoms appeared a few days after having socialized with other dogs at a dog park. She had not been vaccinated that year against bordetella, so that made her particularly susceptible to the infection. Her health remained normal in some ways: her appetite remained, she was still playful, and her rectal temperature was 100.9o, which is considered normal.
Kennel cough often resolves itself within two to three weeks. Antibiotics and sometimes cough suppressants are often prescribed to prevent complications and speed up recovery. In Sasha's case a 14-day course was prescribed. She recovered pretty fast and her cough gradually went away one week following treatment.
Minor cases are often treated at home by clearing up the airway with a non-medicated humidifier or by having the dog breathe in a bathroom full of hot water steam.
Administering Robitussin DM has proved helpful in minor cases, according to veterinarian Dawn Ruben. Nevertheless, as with any medication, it is highly advised to consult a vet first and seek information about side effects, correct dosage, and interactions with other medications.
Bordetella vaccines are very good at preventing this annoying respiratory infection. The vaccine may be administered intranasally or by traditional inoculation. The intranasal form appears to create immunity faster than the inoculation version.
Although kennel cough is a pretty common respiratory disease, any case of coughing needs to be monitored and investigated, as a cough can suggest other more serious problems, even potentially life-threatening conditions such as heart disease, valley fever, or heartworms.
DISCLAIMER: The above article is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a diagnostic tool or substitute for veterinary advice. Please refer to your veterinarian for advice and proper treatment.