Symptoms of Kennel Cough for Dog Owners in Oregon, WI

Kennel cough is the inflammation of the trachea and bronchi and affects the upper respiratory tract of dogs.  The effects of kennel cough can vary depending on the individual dog and can cause a persistent dry, hacking cough. One of the most common causes of kennel cough is a bacteria known as “Bordetella bronchiseptica,”  and the vaccine for kennel cough is called a Bordatella vaccine.

kennel cough symptoms in oregon, wi

This bacteria may work with a virus such as canine distemper or canine parainfluenza to cause symptoms in dogs and can weaken a dog’s immune system.

We’ll go over the common symptoms of kennel cough for dogs in Oregon, WI and what you should do as a dog owner.

Why Is It Called Kennel Cough?

The reason that it’s called kennel cough is that it’s most commonly found in kennels, or anywhere that there are many dogs near one another.

Kennels or shelters are the obvious risk zone, but training facilities and dog parks can be another place where dogs are likely to contract this illness. Kennel cough in dogs is a lot like the typical human cold, and it can spread easily from dog to dog.

This bronchitis may not last long and be mild enough to not need any treatment, or it may progress to life-threatening pneumonia depending on which infectious agents are involved and the patient’s immunological strength.

An uncomplicated kennel cough runs a week or two and entails frequent fits of coughing in a patient who otherwise feels active and normal. Uncomplicated cases do not involve fever or listlessness, just lots of coughing.

What Are the Symptoms of Kennel Cough?

“Kennel cough”, otherwise known as infectious tracheobronchitis (ITB), is a highly contagious illness in dogs that causes inflammation of the trachea and bronchi (tubes that carry air to the lungs).

Infected dogs usually have the following symptoms:

  • A harsh, hacking cough
  • Coughing up foamy white phlegm (especially after exercise or pulling against a collar)
  • Nasal discharge and a runny nose
  • Lethargy or reduced energy
  • Sneezing
  • Appetite loss
  • Low fever (this can appear if kennel cough causes a secondary infection and pneumonia)

What Causes Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough does not have a single cause but is a condition which can be caused by either a virus or a bacterium, or both.  Veterinarians usually refer to kennel cough as “Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease (CIRD)” or “Infectious Tracheobronchitis.”

It can be caused by viral pathogens that include canine distemper, canine parainfluenza, canine influenza, canine adenovirus type 2, canine herpesvirus, or canine respiratory coronavirus to name a few.

Kennel cough can also be caused by several bacteria, such as Bordetella bronchiseptica, a subspecies of Streptococcus Equi, Mycoplasma, and zooepidemicus.

How Do Dogs Get Kennel Cough in Oregon, WI?

Dogs can contract kennel cough several different ways, and the most common way is through droplets spread through the air. A dog who has kennel cough may sneeze, cough or bark, sending aerosolized droplets into the surrounding air, sending out millions of tiny pathogens.

Dogs can also contract kennel cough through shared toys, food and water dishes, and some of the bacteriums listed above can remain alive on a food bowl or a toy for up to forty-eight hours.

Another way kennel cough is spread is through animal interactions, such as playing with, licking, or sniffing an infected dog.

Identifying the Symptoms of Kennel Cough

The most common symptom is a dry, hacking cough that almost sounds like a goose honk. This may be followed by gagging or retching.  It will be irritating for your dog and may even hurt her throat.

It can sound far worse than it is so try not to panic if your dog does start to show this symptom. In most cases, this cough is completely harmless and will go away within a couple of weeks.

Still, you should have your dog checked out by your veterinarian as there are other, more serious causes of coughing.  Make sure you call or otherwise notify them you are coming in so they can take precautions to prevent infection of other dogs in the hospital.

On rare occasions, this condition can lead to further complications. Some dogs may develop a fever and seem lethargic. However, you still don’t have to worry too much about the impact of this condition. With treatment, a dog will still recover.

In extremely rare cases, this condition can lead to something far more sinister which is pneumonia. Pneumonia may develop due to your dog’s weakened immune system. However, it is important to understand that this is incredibly rare. Even so, if you think your dog’s condition is getting worse, you should always get them checked out by the vet.

How Is Kennel Cough Treated?

Many cases of kennel cough may not require any treatment. Although rest and isolation from other dogs will likely be recommended.  In two weeks, a dog will usually fully recover and be back to its old self.

If the condition is more severe, they may be provided antibiotics to help fight the infection and/or a cough suppressant by a vet. In some cases tests (such as chest x-rays) and more aggressive treatment may be necessary. Pet medical insurance typically applies to these tests.  The condition is likely to be more severe and potentially dangerous in older dogs, young puppies, and any dog with a severely weakened immune system.

If your dog fits into any of these categories, you should go and see your vet as soon as possible. They will determine whether further treatment is necessary. With treatment, most dogs will recover fully in roughly two weeks. On occasion, however, some dogs may have a longer course of 2-6 weeks.

How Do I Prevent My Dog from Getting Kennel Cough?

As with other conditions, the best way to approach a kennel cough is to prevent it from developing. There are several ways to do this including checking out the dogs your pooch is playing with. Ask the owner whether they are up to date on their vaccinations.

Vaccinations against Bordetella bronchiseptica, canine adenovirus type 2, canine parainfluenza virus, canine distemper, and canine influenza are currently available, but infection with other members of the kennel cough complex cannot be prevented via immunization.

The distemper vaccine (DHPP), which is routinely administered to almost all dogs, protects against canine adenovirus type 2, canine parainfluenza virus, and canine distemper. There are separate vaccines available for protection against influenza and Bordetella bronchiseptica. 

The Bordetella vaccine does not always prevent infection, but it can minimize symptoms. It should be given at least 5 days before a dog is placed in a high-risk situation (boarding, grooming, etc.) and should be bolstered every 6-12 months. Vaccination is not a useful treatment for a dog already infected with kennel cough.

Be Cautious Where You Take Your Dog in Oregon, WI

If you are using kennels or a doggy daycare in Oregon, WI check them out thoroughly, ensuring they are clean and sanitized. Kennel cough is just one of the nasty illnesses your dog can pick up at kennels which aren’t being properly cleaned and maintained.

Kennel cough is a highly contagious bacterial infection that can occur in dogs. The respiratory virus is more common among puppies and juvenile dogs, although older dogs are still susceptible.

While most cases of kennel cough are mild, the disease can turn into pneumonia if left untreated. Here’s what you need to know about the causes, symptoms, and treatments for kennel cough, along with steps you can take to protect your pup.

Is There a Treatment for Kennel Cough?

In mild cases, the condition may clear up on its own with rest and hydration. More severe cases of kennel cough may require antibiotics, dog-safe cough syrup, and medication to reduce inflammation.

It’s also important to isolate infected dogs until they are no longer contagious. Keeping your dog in a humified area may help relieve symptoms. Most dogs recover from kennel cough within a few weeks.

Can Humans Get Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough is a type of respiratory infection rather than a specific disease and so has a range of possible causes. Most of the canine viruses cannot be transmitted to humans.

However, the main bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica can infect humans, though this is very rare and only a risk factor for people with weakened immune systems.

There is also very little evidence that humans can contract the bacteria from animals. Cases are very rare and shouldn’t be a concern for most people.

How Long Can a Dog Be Contagious?

Dogs typically become infected after spending time in enclosed areas with a lot of other dogs – boarding and grooming facilities, shelters, obedience classes, dog shows, etc.

It takes between 2-14 days for an exposed dog to start showing symptoms, and the illness usually lasts 1-3 weeks.

Dogs specifically infected with Bordetella bronchiseptica may continue to shed the bacteria for 2-3 months. If your dog has been diagnosed with kennel cough, please discuss with your veterinarian how long you should keep him or her away from other dogs to prevent further spread of the disease.

Keep an Eye Out for Kennel Cough in Oregon, WI

Any dog with a new cough should be evaluated by a veterinarian. The vet will perform a physical exam to determine the underlying cause of the cough and then decide if diagnostics (x-rays, blood tests, etc.) and/or medical treatments are necessary.

The good news is that the majority of dogs with kennel cough will not become seriously ill and will quickly make a complete recovery.

So, if your dog is showing any of the symptoms above or has been in recent contact with a dog that does have kennel cough, contact Country View Veterinary Service in Oregon, WI and our doctors will make sure your pup gets on the right path to recovery.