Kennel Cough, also known as infectious bronchitis/canine cough/canine infection respiratory disease (CIRD), is an infection in your dogs’ airways which causes a dry hacking cough. Despite its name, kennel cough can be picked up anywhere not exclusively in kennels. It can be picked up in a park, in the street or in any instance where your dog meets another dog. Kennel cough is highly contagious and can spread in multiple ways. It can be spread through the air, through contact with infected dogs, on hands, food bowls, beds, or any other item that comes into contact with an infected dog. It can survive in the environment for several weeks. It is similar to human colds, as it can be caused by a variety of different germs, viruses and bacteria.

Kennel Cough Cases on the Rise?

During the summer months, there tends to be a higher number of outbreaks of kennel cough. This is because dogs are being taken to the park more often, and so more likely to come into contact with an infected dog or surface. There is also usually an increase in travel during the summer months as people tend to go on holidays at this time of the year, meaning more dogs would be in kennel or boarding facilities.

However, post-Covid-19 life has certainly had a role to play in the notable increase in cases. People are heading back to work and boarding the pets that they got during the lockdown period. Also, many dogs missed their yearly booster for the KC vaccine between 2020-2021, as the owners may have not deemed it necessary during this period, meaning they are then once again susceptible to the infection.

Symptoms of Kennel Cough

In most cases of kennel cough, your dog is likely to seem healthy apart from the coughing. However, some dogs, especially puppies, older dogs, or immunocompromised dogs, may experience additional

  • A forceful, dry cough – often with a sort of ‘honking’ goose-like sound
  • A reduced or complete loss of appetite
  • Low energy
  • High temperature/fever
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Discharge from the eyes

Dogs may experience symptoms for between 1-3 weeks. Dogs showing the symptoms of kennel cough should be kept away from other dogs and any public spaces whilst they are coughing, and for approximately 3 weeks afterwards.

Easing the Symptoms of Kennel Cough

If your dog has caught this contagious infection, there are a few ways that you can make them feel more comfortable and minimise the coughing.

  • All your dog to have plenty of rest so that they can use their energy to fight the infection and
  • Keep them in a well-humidified or steamy area to help keep their throat hydrated
  • Use a harness instead of a collar to relieve pressure on their throat and avoid aggravating
    the cough and causing damage to the trachea
  • Use cough medicines prescribed by your vet to help relieve the coughing and any pain in the
    dog’s throat

How to Prevent Kennel Cough

Although kennel cough is easy to treat in healthy dogs, it’s always better to prevent your dogs from getting the infection in the first instance than it is to have them suffer with it and then need treatment. It is so important to vaccinate your dog as the Kennel Cough vaccination gives significant protection against catching kennel cough, and may help to reduce symptoms if they do happen to catch it.

Vaccinations cannot be used to treat active infections. Instead, the dog may be treated with antibiotics and cough medicine. These antibiotics may be in the form of nebulisers and vaporizers so that the antibiotics are inhaled.

Many doggy day-cares, training, and dog boarding facilities require proof of vaccination for your dog to attend, as they are continuously exposed to large groups of dogs. As kennel cough is so contagious, if one dog were to attend a facility with other dogs present, it is likely that they would all catch the infection. When choosing a pet care facility for your dog, make sure you’re choosing one that requires certification that all the dogs they care for have received the kennel cough vaccination.

The kennel cough vaccine treats Bordetella bacterium, which is the most common cause of kennel cough, but there are other bacteria that can also cause kennel cough. The vaccine may, therefore, not completely prevent your dog from getting a form of kennel cough but may prevent them from contracting the most common and most contagious form. The vaccine is available in multiple forms including oral, intranasal, and injectable, and is usually given in 2 doses between 2-4 weeks apart. Your dog will then require a booster dose of the vaccine every 6 months to 1 year throughout their life to maintain their level of resistance to the infection.

We offer Kennel Cough vaccinations and annual boosters here at Paws in the City. You can book in with us by calling 02045 199 857 or emailing ealing@pawsinthecityx.com

As well as vaccinations, you can also help prevent your dog from contracting kennel cough by helping them to maintain a healthy immune system. This means that they would naturally have a much better chance at fighting off the infection naturally.

Treatment of Kennel Cough

If left untreated, Kennel Cough can sometimes go away on its own. However, serious, ongoing cases of kennel cough infection can develop into pneumonia, so it is always better to get your pet checked before it develops into anything more serious.

  • Use anti-inflammatories prescribed by your vet to reduce inflammation in the airways and bring down your dog’s temperature
  • Antibiotics may be prescribed by your vet if your dog is particularly susceptible to a secondary infection

If your dog has any symptoms of breathing rapidly, not eating or their kennel cough symptoms don’t improve within 3 weeks, please contact your vet urgently as these could be the signs of a more serious medical condition, such as canine distemper virus or canine influenza virus. Other serious conditions that start with coughing also includes a collapsing trachea, asthma and heart disease.

If you have any concerns regarding your pets’ health, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. You can contact Paws in the City by calling 02045 199 857 or email at greenford@pawsinthecityx.com to speak to a vet in Greenford Quays and at ealing@pawsinthecityx.com in Dickens Yard, Ealing.

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