Kennel Cough Prevention And Treatment
Kennel cough, more correctly known as infectious tracheobronchitis, is actually an upper respiratory infection that can be passed between dogs through a variety of different methods. Since it most commonly is associated with dogs in confined spaces or dogs in contact with lots of other dogs the more informal term kennel cough is typically used to describe both the symptoms and the condition.
There is not one specific virus that causes kennel cough but there are some that are more common than others. In most areas either parainfluenza virus or Bordetalla bronchiseptica are the most problematic agents. Some research also shows that canine herpes virus and the type 2 canine adenovirus are also commonly present in dogs that are diagnosed with kennel cough.
For healthy dogs kennel cough is more of an irritation than a serious health concern, but when the problems continue or if the dog has any other health problems, even those that were previously mild, it can seriously compound health risks.
Most dogs will show signs of kennel cough within a two week period of contracting the bacteria or virus. This is often seen as a dry, hacking type of cough that may also include retching or vomiting, particularly if the dog is eating or drinking before the coughing spell. Some dogs may also have a watery discharge from the nose that is similar to a runny nose with a cold in a person. Often the dogs have tearing from the eyes as well and may appear to have a lack of energy for the few days the symptoms are evident. In older dogs or dogs with other health conditions the symptoms can be much more severe. Pneumonia, diarrhea, fever, lack of appetite and even death can occur if the infection spreads or compounds an existing serious medical condition.
Usually healthy dogs will recover fully within an additional 10 days of the onset of symptoms but they are still capable of spreading the disease to other dogs for up to 14 weeks after symptoms end. This is one of the reasons that it is so prevalent in kennels, shelters and even at dog events since the dogs that are spreading the condition are actually very healthy and have no symptoms.
Diagnoses is completed by the vet through bacterial cultures, checks for viral infections and blood tests. However if the owner reports contact with other dogs or boarding the vet will typically assume the condition and start treatment with appropriate antibiotics and use the tests for confirmation. In some cases bronchodilators are used to help the animal during coughing spells, or the disease is allowed to run its course and the dog kept isolated and treated with preventative vaccinations after the condition is cured.
There are nasal vaccinations that are available and most vets routinely use an injectable Bordatella vaccine in combination with the dog's annual vaccinations. It is highly recommended to check with your vet and kennel owner if you have any concerns about your dog's health after boarding. You should also look for boarding kennels that require an up to date vaccination record of all dogs prior to admitting them to the kennel to ensure your pet's safety.
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