Kennel Cough – Prevention is Key

What is Kennel Cough?

Infectious tracheobronchitis, or ‘Kennel Cough’, is a common, usually self-limiting respiratory syndrome that is typically caused by bacterial or viral agents, including: Bordetella bronchiseptica (a gram negative bacteria), canine parainfluenza, canine herpes virus and canine adenovirus-2. Infectious tracheobronchitis causes inflammation of the trachea and bronchioles, however, secondary pneumonia can occur causing the alveoli, air filled sacs to accumulate fluid and puss. Secondary pneumonia is more likely to affect the immunocompromised and/or those with an underlying respiratory condition.

How is Kennel Cough Transmitted?

Transmission of these infectious agents occurs from infected aerosols and droplets. Clinical symptoms present around 4 days after exposure. Dogs housed with several other dogs like in boarding/training kennels, shelters and pet shops are most at risk.

Clinical Symptoms Include...

  • chronic cough

  • oculonasal discharge (eyes and nose)

  • lethargy

  • wheezing

  • inappetence

  • depression

How is Kennel Cough Diagnosed?

Kennel Cough can be diagnosed based on the patient’s history, clinical symptoms and bacterial cultures. A thoracic radiograph may be recommended depending on the severity of the case.

How is Kennel Cough Treated?

There is no current treatment for viral infections, however if a bacterial infection, such as Bordetella is diagnosed or suspected, antibiotics, such as Clavamox or doxycycline will be prescribed. In most cases, symptoms tend to resolve within 10-14 days of treatment. In more severe cases, additional antibiotics may be prescribed or nebulization (inhaled medicated spray) may be recommended. Infected dogs should remain isolated from other dogs until their condition has resolved and they are no longer contagious. 

Is Kennel Cough Preventable?

There are two vaccines available.
The canine distemper virus vaccine provides 1-3 years of immunity against two common viruses that cause Kennel Cough, parainfluenza and adenovirus-2. It is a core vaccine which means veterinarians highly recommended all dogs be vaccinated. Booster shots are required.
Bordetella bronchiseptica vaccine is not a core vaccine, but should be administered to “high risk” groups, such as dogs that go to doggy daycare or boarding facilities. Booster shots are required.

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