Kennel cough (canine infectious upper respiratory disease)
Although commonly known as Kennel Cough, this disease is better called canine infectious upper respiratory disease as most dogs catch it outside of kennels.
Symptoms include a persistent hacking and retching cough which can look as though your dog is choking or being sick. They may bring up a thick white foamy material. Most dogs are bright and well with a normal appetite but some develop a fever and feel poorly and have a reduced appetite.
Cause It is caused by a mixture of bacteria (Bordetella Bronchiseptica) and various viruses (parainfluenza amongst others) and this makes it difficult to provide a specific treatment and also to entirely prevent it. The cough may persist for 7-14 days and usually starts within a couple of days of contact with an infected dog or surfaces that have been coughed on by an infected dog.
Treatment If your dog is bright and well eating and not salivating or pawing at their mouth or throat it is unlikely they are choking. Please call us if you are concerned because choking would of course be an emergency.
For these bright, well dogs the best thing is rest and avoid all contact with other dogs until their symptoms have resolved. A spoonful of honey can help soothe their throats. Antibiotics are not usually needed We can supply anti-inflammatories for severe coughs. Please give us a call to discuss.
If your dog develops a nasal discharge, is not eating or is lethargic we will want to examine them but we may perform this examination outdoors in our covered shelter to reduce the risk of transmission to other patients.
Prevention Kennel cough vaccination will prevent the more serious infections and are highly recommended for all dogs, not just for going into boarding kennels. They are usually a requirement of attending training classes or dog walking groups. A bit like our flu vaccine they are not 100% effective and vaccinated dogs can still develop mild symptoms due to other viruses. This vaccine is administered into the nose once a year and the good news for those dogs who aren't too keen on this is that an injectable version is on its way!
One thing to bear in mind is that the modified live vaccine used in the intra-nasal vaccine can potentially cause infections in immunocompromised humans in close contact with the dog, for up to 6 weeks. If you think this may affect you, please discuss with your GP. The injectable vaccine may be more suitable in this case.