What is Kennel Cough?

Kennel Cough is a very common and contagious disease mostly contracted by dogs, but can also be transferred to other pets such as: cats, birds, and bunnies.

Your pet will be constantly hacking and coughing, sometimes spitting up bits of phlegm. Over exertion can trigger it and make it much worse, so limiting your dogs amount of exercise is recommended while suffering from kennel cough. An immediate vet check up followed by rest and relaxation is the best course of action to take.

Kennel cough in dogs can be compared to the human flu, and generally caused when your dog is bombarded by a mix of bacteria and viruses at the same time, similar to influenza in humans.

In most cases Kennel Cough is not serious, and will only last up to a week or two. However, in more serious cases it can last up to several months, and can be extremely uncomfortable for your dog (and extremely annoying for the dog owner). It’s important to have your dog checked out as soon as it begins showing signs of kennel cough as it may be symptoms of another more serious condition your dog is suffering from.

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How Long Does Kennel Cough Last?

In most cases Kennel cough usually only lasts for a few weeks, or even shorter with medication. However, this completely depends on the severity of the infection, and if other conditions or diseases are involved. With this being said, it's extremely important to bring your dog into the Vet to be properly assessed, as waiting too long could give the condition time to get much worse.

If your dog has been coughing for longer than 3 weeks, and you still haven't taken him to get checked out than it is definitely time to bring him/her in. In some cases, the dogs cough can last for several months, and can be very painful and uncomfortable.

Kennel Cough in Puppies

It's especially important to monitor your puppies if they have contracted a cough. Puppies and small dogs are much more vulnerable to respiratory conditions, and should be brought in to be checked out if they are displaying irregular behaviour. Although it is rare, in some cases kennel cough and other respiratory conditions can cause permanent damage to the trachea.

Is Kennel Cough Contagious?

The more time your dog spends around other dogs, the higher the risk of contracting kennel cough as it is a contagious disease.

The top bacteria and viruses that cause kennel cough are:

  • Bordetella bronchiseptica - This is the main bacteria behind Kennel Cough once it has found it’s way into your pets body. It’s able to reproduce and break down your dogs immune system making it sick. Once this happens the persistent cough will begin.
  • Canine parainfluenza 3 & Canine adenvirus Type 2 - These are the main viruses behind kennel cough. Parainfluenza infects the cells of the respiratory tract, damages the trachea, and can also cause canine distemper. Adenovirus lodges itself deep within your dogs lungs and is also the transmitter of canine colds.

The combination and mixture of these viruses and bacteria can infect your dog with kennel cough. Some dogs will not display any symptoms whatsoever of kennel cough, but can still transmit it to others. This is why the more time your dog spends with other dogs, the higher the risk of contracting this contagious cough.

How You Can Prevent It

The good news is that kennel cough in dogs is preventable, the key being to monitor your pet as closely as possible. All dogs need to be social, but better with other dogs that you are familiar with. Keep your pet away from strays, or unknown animals.

There is a vaccination shot for bordetella, however it does not protect against all forms of kennel cough and research has shown that this vaccination has been known at times to actually trigger kennel cough in dogs. There is an injectable vaccine as well as one that is inhaled through the nose which offers quick protection.

If your planning on taking your dog to a kennel, day care, or somewhere else where it will be around many other dogs you may want to consider the vaccine. However, many breeders and pet owners don’t believe in these vaccines and prefer to let their dogs natural immune system protect it. There is no right or wrong answer, it is ultimately the pet owners decision.

The best way to prevent kennel cough is to simply be aware of your dogs surroundings, company, and watch for any signs out of the ordinary.