Tracheobronchitis, better known as Kennel Cough, is an infectious condition in which the upper airways of the respiratory tract become inflamed. It may be caused by a multitude of the viruses including Canine Parainfluenza, Canine Distemper, Canine Adenovirus 2 and the bacteria Bordetella Bronchiseptica. Kennel Cough is characterized by a hacking dry cough, which would be easily elicited by palpating, or gently rubbing, the dog’s trachea. More severe signs would include a fever, yellow or green discharge from the nose and the animal may become listless with a decreased appetite.
How would my animal catch Kennel Cough?
Commonly, animals that find themselves in an environment that has many other pets, such as boarding facilities, dog parks, grooming salons, training classes or even the waiting room of their veterinary hospital can come in contact with the infectious agent, as it thrives in warm, poorly ventilated environments and is usually airborne. Stress from boarding with many unfamiliar animals may also lower the animal’s natural immune defenses, leaving them a bit more susceptible to infection. The incubation period, which is the time from when the animal was exposed until the time symptoms start showing, may be as short as two days or as long two weeks!
Great, my dog is coughing… what now?
If your dog starts coughing after being boarded or groomed, he may have developed Kennel Cough. Sometimes it may be self-limiting; meaning that the virus will run its course and the animal will improve on its own. However, since there can be potential for Kennel Cough to develop into Pneumonia, it is always advised to call your veterinarian and have your animal examined. The veterinarian can make the diagnosis, sometimes just with a physical exam. Most likely, your animal may be prescribed a cough suppressant and antibiotics to combat any secondary bacterial infections. The veterinary assistant will explain how to best utilize nursing skills (such as good nutrition) and environmental considerations (such as using a humidifier to sooth irritated respiratory tissues and being in a smoke free household).
Can we prevent this?
Some of the components that cause Kennel Cough are found in your dog’s regular vaccine, DA2PP, also known by the slang term “Distemper” vaccine. That vaccination includes Distemper virus, Canine Adenovirus type 2, Parainfluenza and Parvo virus. It’s considered a core vaccine and is usually given annually. If you board your dog or go to the grooming salon, those facilities often require proof of the DA2PP vaccination as well as the Bordetella vaccine. The Bordetella vaccine is generally given intra-nasally (in the nose) which many hospitals feel provide better immunity than the traditional injected form of the vaccine. If you plan on boarding your dog, check with your veterinary office for their recommendations on when to schedule the vaccination, as it may take about 5 days to for your animal to generate an immune response from the vaccine in order to provide the needed protection. Happy Holidays!
Merck Veterinary Manual- Online
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