Kennel cough, also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is a prevalent and easily transmitted airway infection among dogs. This highly contagious condition is particularly common in environments where dogs are in close proximity, such as kennels, hence its colloquial moniker. The distinctive hallmark of kennel cough is a dry, hacking (or honking) cough exhibited by affected dogs.
This canine ailment, caused by various viruses and bacteria, shares common symptoms, making it challenging to pinpoint a specific culprit. Despite the diverse range of pathogens responsible for canine infectious tracheobronchitis, the umbrella term “kennel cough” is often employed to describe any infection with similar clinical manifestations.
What causes kennel cough?
The primary culprits contributing to the onset of kennel cough encompass a variety of viruses and bacteria, each with its distinctive characteristics:
Foremost among these is Bordetella bronchiseptica, a prevalent bacterium notorious for triggering inflammation in a dog’s upper respiratory tract, thereby fostering the development of kennel cough.
Another noteworthy viral player in this canine ailment is Canine parainfluenza, or CPIV, distinguished by its frequent association with kennel cough. It’s crucial to differentiate CPIV from canine influenza, as their distinct viruses necessitate specific vaccinations.
Adding to the roster is Canine adenovirus 2, also recognized as CAV-2 or infectious canine laryngotracheitis virus. This respiratory affliction, contributing to kennel cough, typically spreads among dogs through coughing, highlighting its contagious nature.
The formidable Canine distemper, capable of transmission through airborne means, shared utensils, or even from mother to offspring in utero, stands as another potential source of kennel cough.
Environments where dogs congregate, such as boarding facilities, doggie daycare centers, training centers, dog parks, and shows, serve as breeding grounds for kennel cough. Much like the human cold, the spread of kennel cough is facilitated through direct contact, airborne droplets expelled during coughs or sneezes, and contact with contaminated surfaces like communal water bowls or toys.
Various factors, including the stress associated with confinement in boarding facilities and suboptimal air quality or ventilation, heighten a dog’s susceptibility to contracting kennel cough. Understanding these dynamics is pivotal in devising effective preventive measures and promoting the well-being of our canine companions.
Kennel Cough Symptoms
Kennel cough manifests through a range of symptoms, and it’s crucial to be vigilant for any signs of distress in your dog:
1. Persistent Dry Cough:
– A recurring dry, hacking cough is a prominent indicator of kennel cough.
2. Nocturnal Coughing:
– Coughing episodes during the night, disrupting both your and your dog’s sleep.
3. Retching and White Foam:
– Retching accompanied by the production of white foam, adding to the distinctive symptoms.
4. Tracheal Sensitivity:
– Tracheal sensitivity, where your dog exhibits coughing when gentle pressure is applied to their trachea.
While kennel cough often resolves on its own, it can escalate, particularly in neonate or geriatric dogs, leading to more severe symptoms:
– Noticeable fatigue or lethargy, indicating a potential progression of the illness.
2. Loss of Appetite:
– Reduced interest in food or a complete loss of appetite, suggesting a decline in overall well-being.
– Elevated body temperature, a sign of a more advanced stage of kennel cough.
4. Labored Breathing:
– Difficulty in breathing, manifesting as labored breathing, indicating a more serious condition.
In cases where dogs exhibit severe symptoms, it is imperative to seek prompt veterinary attention:
– Immediate Veterinary Attention:
– Dogs displaying severe symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, and labored breathing should be taken to the veterinarian promptly for a thorough diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
By recognizing and addressing symptoms early, you can ensure the well-being of your dog and facilitate timely intervention to prevent the progression of kennel cough to more severe stages.
Kennel cough treatment, medications, and remedies
It is advisable to implement precautionary measures to shield your dog from potential reinfection and enhance their comfort during the recovery period:
1. Isolate Your Dog:
– Keep your dog away from other canine companions to prevent the spread of the illness.
2. Thorough Disinfection:
– Take meticulous care in disinfecting all surfaces and items to minimize the risk of reinfection.
3. Medication Caution:
– Strictly adhere to prescribed medications from your veterinarian, avoiding the administration of any over-the-counter human cough or cold medicines.
4. Walking Gear:
– Opt for a harness instead of a collar and lead when walking your dog to minimize irritation to the windpipe.
5. Comfortable Resting Space:
– Create a tranquil and warm space for your dog to rest, facilitating a comfortable recovery environment.
6. Humidifier Use:
– Run a humidifier to add moisture to your dog’s air passages, aiding in soothing respiratory discomfort.
7. Gentle Cleaning:
– Wipe any discharge from your dog’s eyes and nose with a warm, damp towel to maintain cleanliness and comfort.
8. Clean, Well-Ventilated Environment:
– Ensure your dog resides in a clean, well-ventilated area to promote a conducive healing atmosphere.
9. Quarantine Measures:
– Implement quarantine measures to isolate your dog from other dogs, preventing the potential spread of the illness.
10. Post-Recovery Caution:
– Even after symptoms have disappeared, maintain quarantine for two weeks to ensure full recovery and reduce the risk of transmission.
Dog Coughing: Other Causes
Much like humans, dogs experience coughing as a natural mechanism to expel dust, germs, and various particles from their respiratory system. Similar to us, they are susceptible to infections and viruses, and their social nature, marked by sniffing and slurping, contributes to the rapid spread of bacteria and viruses among them. This includes a specific canine form of the flu, with germs finding their way onto surfaces like floors, furniture, food bowls, toys, and more, where subsequent dogs can pick them up.
Coughing in dogs may be attributed to various causes, such as:
1. Fungal Infections:
– Yeast and other fungi, acquired from dirt or the air, can lead to coughing. Prescription medications are available for treatment.
– Spread by mosquitoes, heartworm disease is preventable through monthly medication or long-lasting injections. Treatment, though challenging and costly, is essential for your pet’s health.
– A serious virus that spreads through the air, distemper can be prevented with vaccination.
4. Heart Disease:
– Conditions like leaky valves and other heart issues can exert pressure on the lungs and airways, resulting in coughing. Medication, a suitable diet, and vet-approved exercise can provide relief.
5. Congestive Heart Failure:
– Fluid accumulation in the lungs can cause coughing, a symptom of congestive heart failure.
6. Lung Problems:
– Dogs may develop bronchitis, pneumonia, or infections in the airways due to inhalation of dirt, grass seeds, or food. Antibiotics are effective in treating these conditions, with rare cases requiring consideration of medication or surgery for lung cancer.
7. Tracheal Collapse:
– Weakening of the cartilage rings in the trachea can lead to tracheal collapse, a progressive condition more common in small dogs like Pomeranians, Yorkshire terriers, and chihuahuas. It presents with a harsh, dry cough, vomiting, and breathing difficulties.
Understanding the diverse causes of coughing in dogs allows for timely intervention and appropriate treatment, ensuring the overall health and well-being of our canine companions. Consultation with a veterinarian is crucial for accurate diagnosis and tailored care.