Happy Tails Too!, LLC
1100 South Main Road
Mountain Top, Pa 18707
What is Kennel Cough?
Kennel cough, also called Bordetella & Infectious Tracheobronchitis is a very common canine upper respiratory tract infection that is most commonly triggered by the presence of both the parainfluenza virus and the bacteria called Bordetella bronchiseptica. It is highly contagious and is spread in the air by the sneezes & coughs of infected dogs. Healthy dogs contract the condition when bacterial agents in those secretions enter the respiratory tract. People tend to associate kennel cough with dogs who have recently been boarded (or "kenneled"). However, your dog could contract kennel cough anywhere they come into contact with other dogs; such as, the groomer, the veterinarian's office, pet store, in dog obedience class, or at a dog show or any other dog related event. Any time your dog is in the vicinity of an infected dog, the potential exists for infection. The incubation period is about 7-10 days, meaning your dog will not display symptoms of illness for about 7-10 days following exposure to the virus.
Kennel Cough Symptoms
Generally speaking, if an otherwise healthy dog suddenly begins coughing, it’s usually due to an infection in the form of some type of kennel cough, virus, bacteria, or a combination.
A sudden dry hacking cough, sneezing, snorting, retching, gagging, or vomiting in response to very light pressure to the trachea, or a spasmodic cough when a dog is excited or exercising are all common symptoms of kennel cough. A nasal discharge may be present, and sometimes there can also be fever. Dogs can become lethargic. They can lose their appetite. Pneumonia can develop. In the worst cases, death can occur. Severe cases of kennel cough primarily occur in immunocompromised dogs, geriatric dogs, or in very young puppies. It is rare to lose a dog with a competent immune system to kennel cough.
How do I prevent my dog from getting kennel cough?
Vaccinating your dog with the Bordetella vaccine can help reduce their risk. However, be aware that your dog can still contract the Kennel Cough virus even if he or she has been vaccinated. There are many strains and mutations of the virus, making it a hit or miss whether the vaccine used on your dog will be the right one for the strain with which your dog comes in contact with. This is similar to the "flu shot" for people; each year a vaccine is developed based on which strain(s) are suspected to be most prevalent. Simply put, having the flu shot does not guarantee you won't get the flu, and when your dog has a Bordetella vaccination it doesn't guarantee he or she won't get kennel cough. A strong immune system is the best defense against viruses. This is why several dogs could be exposed to the kennel cough virus, but only one may actually contract it.