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Does my Dog have Kennel Cough: Symptoms and Treatments

White dog looking out from under a brown blanket

If your dog is coughing very hard and has recently been around other dogs, your dog may have kennel cough. While kennel cough may be scary for your dog at first, there are many things that you can do to alleviate their symptoms. This article will explain all about kennel cough and what you can do to help your dog quickly recover, as well as solutions you can take in the meantime to make your dog feel better.

What is Kennel Cough?

Kennel Cough is also known as infectious tracheobronchitis. This is a viral infection caused by the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica. This bacterium attacks the lining of the respiratory tract, causing inflammation. This inflammation is what causes your dog to cough. This is a highly contagious virus that can be easily contracted at doggie daycares, kennels, and dog parks. Kennel cough can occur at any time, but it spreads quickly in the warm summer months.

Symptoms of Kennel Cough

The symptoms that veterinarians see with kennel cough are very similar to other diseases.  If you notice your dog coughing and have recently boarded your dog, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.  They can examine your dog to see if there your dog does have kennel cough or some other problem. Let your veterinarian know if your dog spends a lot of time at the dog park or has been recently boarded or groomed. These are all very common places that your dog could catch kennel cough.

Common signs seen in dogs with kennel cough are:

  • Honking cough: your dog may have a goose honking cough. This is a classical sign of kennel cough. This type of cough can be very irritating to a dog's trachea. If this cough persists, your dog could get a secondary infection.
  • Runny nose: When your dog coughs, they are also irritating the trachea and upper respiratory tract. This makes a great place for bacteria to set in and cause an infection in the upper airway. This infection would lead to green mucus coming from your dog's nose.
  • Sneezing: Dogs who develop kennel cough will sometimes also show signs of a cold. They will sneeze. If you see your dog sneezing green or yellow mucus, they have an infection and need to see your veterinarian.
  • Lethargy: Your dog could also be lethargic. This would not be common to see in a dog with kennel cough. Most dogs are still very playful and active even with the persistent cough.
  • Loss of appetite: Some dogs may not eat as much as they normally do with kennel cough. Most of the time, this does not affect their appetite. Most dogs still act normal; they just have a very harsh cough.
  • Possible low fever: Dogs with kennel cough may also develop a low-grade fever. This is the body’s natural way of fighting the infection.

It may take several days to show signs of kennel cough after your dog gets infected. Most dogs will show signs within 10 days of coming into contact with another infected dog. Many dogs will show signs much sooner. If your dog is infected with kennel cough, keep them away from other to dogs to help decrease the spread of this disease.

While not a cure for Kennel Cough, CBD can drastically improve your dog's mood when suffering from any illness. CBD offers help towards many symptoms of Kennel Cough, like loss of appetite as well as reduce the inflammation of the trachea.

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Treating Kennel Cough

If you notice any of these signs in your dog, contact your veterinarian. They can examine your dog for their coughing. They may want to run bloodwork or take chest x-rays to rule out any other possible causes and to make sure a secondary infection has not set in. Diseases such as heartworm, pneumonia, tracheitis, and cancer can all look similar to kennel cough. Your veterinarian can help you figure out what is causing these signs.

If your dog does have kennel cough, your veterinarian may put them on antibiotics if they have discharge from their nose. This is to help treat or prevent secondary infection. Usually, no antibiotics are needed as kennel cough is caused by a virus and not a bacterial infection. Some veterinarians will put your dog on a cough suppressant to help decrease the chance of causing an infection. Usually, the cough will stop after about 7 to 10 days.

When your dog is coughing, it is always best to ditch the collar and use a harness instead. When your dog goes for a walk, they may pull a little on their collar, causing extra irritation to the throat. By switching to a harness when your dog pulls, they will not be putting any extra strain on their trachea.

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Preventing Kennel Cough in Dogs

There are many things that you can do to help prevent your dog from getting kennel cough. You can decrease your dog’s interaction with unvaccinated animals or taking your new puppy places without proper vaccinations first.

There is a vaccine that you can also give your dog to help them from catching kennel cough. This vaccine comes in 3 different forms. They can receive a normal injection. There is a nasal spray that your veterinarian would put in your dog's nose. There is also an oral form. This is liquid that your dog would drink. Depending on each veterinarian and how cooperative your dog is will dictate which form of the vaccine they will receive. Just like with any vaccine, they are not 100% guaranteed to work, but they will help decrease the severity and possibly provide your dog with enough protection that they will not get sick.

If your dog is suddenly coughing after spending time with other dogs or being boarded, see a veterinarian immediately. It is also best to keep your dog away from other pets to help stop the spread of infection.Kennel cough can sometimes be very frustrating since there it is not able to be treated but must just run its course. With the help of your veterinarian and a cough suppressant, your dog can quickly return to their normal life.

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Meet the Author

author Dr. Sara Ochoa DVM

Dr. Sara Ochoa DVM

Since she was a little girl, she knew that her dream was to become a veterinarian. With a tremendous passion and love for animals that makes her a great source of knowledge for others. She lives happily with her husband Greg and her babies Ruby the Schnoodle, and Bam-Bam the bunny.

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