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Kennel Cough

Education > Dog Health & Behaviour 13th March 2019
 


Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis, commonly known as Kennel Cough, is an infectious respiratory tract infection in dogs. It is actually a complex of infections. The chief agent is a bacteria called Bordetella bronchiseptica and it is usually accompanied by at least one other infectious agent, commonly Canine Parainfluenza Virus or Canine Adenovirus Type 2.

SYMPTOMS OF KENNEL COUGH

A normal respiratory tract enables debris and infectious agents to be trapped and moved upwards towards the throat where they are coughed up and/or swallowed. When the defense mechanisms are damaged by factors such as infectious agents and crowding stress, the dog can develop kennel cough which is characterised by a harsh, high-pitched hacking cough often described as a “goose honk”. The cough can be dry or productive and is followed by a gag, swallowing action and production of foamy mucus.

FACTORS THAT DAMAGE DEFENSE MECHANISMS

  • Crowding stress (e.g. boarding kennels, grooming centres)
  • Poor ventilation
  • Heavy dust exposure
  • Infectious agents

DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT

Kennel cough is diagnosed with a combination of history of exposure to crowded areas with dogs, a complete physical examination (e.g. coughing on tracheal palpation) as well as diagnostic tests (e.g. radiography). Kennel cough usually resolves without medication but severe cases may require antibiotics and cough suppressants to provide comfort during recovery. The dog will improve partially after a week of treatment. However, a failure of kennel cough to resolve suggests an underlying condition and a re-check examination is necessary.

An infected dog can shed the Bordetella organism to other dogs for 2 to 3 months post-recovery. Dogs that have recovered from the infection are usually immune to reinfection for 6 to 12 months. Vaccination against kennel cough is not expected to completely prevent the risk of infection but will minimise the symptoms of illness. Some dogs may experience some sneezing or nasal discharge following vaccination which should clear up on its own.