The technical term for kennel cough is infectious tracheobronchitis. In fact, it is a common name for acute and contagious dog diseases that affect lower respiratory tract and are accompanied by coughing fits. The cause of kennel cough might be bacteria or virus and it is a common disease among dogs. It is transmitted by droplet infection and therefore, it is spread quickly. It’s enough when two dogs in a park sniff each other.
If the course of the disease is normal, it lasts a week or two. However, dry cough may be present even for several weeks. It looks like something got stuck in the dog’s neck and it chokes. It can also cough mucus or white foam out. It gets worse when a collar is pulled or with another neck irritation, but also with strain.
Besides the cough, dogs don’t usually have other symptoms or there are only minor signs of cold, such as nasal or eye discharge. If the disease is more serious, also fever might occur, the dog is sad, feels blue and it can progress to pneumonia. The risk is the highest in young puppies, older dogs and immuno-compromised dogs or dogs with auto-immune diseases.
As it is usually a viral infection, there’s nothing else that can help than relax. The dog should be kept calm and warm. Recovery can be supported by plenty of fluids. The dog should be motivated to drink, we can also give it diluted broth or add a part of a meat can into its water bowl. However, don’t forget to change the water often in this case. Otherwise, bacteria will replicate in the bowl. The dog may refuse to eat dry food because of the sore throat. Sometimes, it’s enough to soak them but in other cases, it might be necessary to switch to complete high-quality cans.
It’s usually not necessary to go to a vet if the dog is otherwise healthy and you can treat it at home on your own. If you need to be assured it’s okay, call the vet and discuss the dog’s condition with him/her. (S)he might also tell you to try ribwort syrup which helps with coughing up. However, let him/her always advise you on the dosage.
The kennel cough cannot be transmitted to humans. However, some of its originators, for example, bordetella, may cause cats’ or rabbits’ runny noses. It may even cause fatal pneumonia of guinea pigs.
Has your dog ever had kennel cough? Or to be more specific, have you ever treated it with this disease? Vaccination against the most common originators is a part of commonly combined vaccines which do not prevent the transmission but reduce the symptoms so much that you might not even notice them.