Kennel cough in dogs is a fairly easy ailment to diagnose at home. If your dog suddenly develops a ‘hacking’ cough or constantly sounds like it’s choking on something, it could be kennel cough, known to your vet as canine infectious tracheobronchitis.
These coughing sounds can be frightening, leading you to believe something is seriously wrong with your dog; but most of the time kennel cough is not a serious condition and dogs usually recover from it without needing to undergo any treatment.
Dogs develop kennel cough if they inhale bacteria or virus particles into their respiratory tract. A dog’s respiratory tract is lined with a coating of mucus to trap infectious particles. However, there are some conditions that can weaken a dog’s natural protection mechanism and make it susceptible to kennel cough infection, and the result is an inflammation of the larynx (voice box) and trachea (windpipe).
Several conditions that can lead to kennel cough in dogs include exposure to poorly ventilated or overcrowded rooms and holding areas in kennels and animal shelters; overexposure to cold temperatures; and repeated exposure to dust or smoke from cigarettes.
Kennel cough can have multiple causes and is by no means limited specifically to the conditions listed above. One of the most common reasons for a dog to develop a case of kennel cough is a bacteria called Bordetella bronchiseptica. Most dogs that are infected with this bacteria will also become infected with a virus at the same time. Canine adenovirus, canine herpes virus, canine distemper virus, and parainfluenza virus are among these diseases, and they are more serious than kennel cough alone.
If your dog continues to have a persistent, forceful cough, listen carefully to determine if it sounds very different from the cough-like sound made by many dogs which is referred to as a “reverse sneeze.” Reverse sneezes are normal in certain dogs and breeds, and is usually caused by post-nasal drip or a slight irritation in the dog’s throat. If your dog displays other symptoms including sneezing, a runny nose, or eye discharge, you’ll probably want to have your vet check the dog to be sure the symptoms are not indicative of kennel cough or one of the viruses.
Kennel cough in dogs is a very contagious disease and a dog who has come down with it should not be allowed around other healthy dogs.
Most cases of kennel cough will resolve themselves without any kind of treatment, but medications can help speed the dog’s recovery and help minimize symptoms during the infection. Most dogs will recover completely within three weeks, but older dogs or dogs with certain medical conditions can take up to six weeks to fully recover.
A serious case of kennel cough in dogs can lead to pneumonia so it’s wise to follow up with your vet if your dog doesn’t improve within this short period of time. Also, if your dog begins breathing rapidly or acts listless it could be signs of a more serious condition