Beware Kennel Cough
Kennel cough is not serious, but some dogs can become seriously ill from kennel cough infection (especially very young, very old ). Whenever a dog is coughing, a visit to the vet is highly recommended to sort out possible diagnoses and treatment options.
Signs of Kennel Cough
â€¢ Cough, usually a dry hacking cough (sometimes described as a goose honk cough). The severity and type of cough can be variable however.
â€¢ Retching and gagging (as if something stuck in throat)
â€¢ and expulsion of white foamy fluid
More serious signs
â€¢ Nasal discharge
â€¢ Loss of appetite
While a coughing dog should see a vet for evaluation, if lethargy or loss of appetite accompany the cough, see your vet immediately as this may indicate serious complications such as pneumonia.
The symptoms usually appear about 5-10 days after exposure to an infected dog or cat, and can last for up to 3 weeks, though symptoms may improve considerably within a few days. It is thought that dogs can remain contagious for several weeks after symptoms clear up.
Treatment of Kennel Cough
Your vet will recommend treatment based on the severity of illness in your dog. Many dogs recover without treatment, so your dog may simply require monitoring to ensure the symptoms are not worsening. For dogs with severe coughs, a cough suppressant may be prescribed, and in some cases, antibiotics may be prescribed to combat bacterial infections. If your dog has symptoms such as fever, lethargy and loss of appetite, more intensive treatment will be recommended.
Pressure from a collar can exacerbate kennel cough symptoms, so switching to a harness is recommended for the duration of the illness.
Prevention of Kennel Cough
Both injectable and intranasal (administered in the nose) vaccines are available to protect against kennel cough. Your veterinarian can recommend an appropriate vaccination schedule based on your dog’s situation and risk factors for kennel cough.
Vaccinations should be given at least a week or two in advance of situations where your dog is at risk for contracting kennel cough to be most effective. Most kennels require vaccination against kennel cough (along with the routine annual vaccinations).