What is it?
Kennel cough is a common, contagious, and typically self-limiting respiratory disease that is typified by inflammation of the bronchi and trachea. Kennel cough can be either viral or bacterial in nature and is caused by many different types of viruses/bacteria found in public spaces where other dogs congregate. Dogs catch kennel cough by inhaling bacteria or virus particles into their respiratory tract. Similar to a cold in humans, Kennel Cough is spread through airborne droplets, direct contact, or contaminated surfaces. It is easily contracted through exposure at boarding kennels, doggie day care, canine sports events, veterinarian offices, any public spaces where dogs visit such as parks, or pretty much anywhere your dog comes in direct or indirect contact with other dogs. Like a human cold, it is highly treatable, but is difficult to prevent.

Symptoms of the condition
Symptoms typically begin to develop two to six days following exposure and include a hacking or honking cough that almost sounds like the dog is choking, and which may be accompanied by a nasal or ocular discharge. It may also include a fever and loss of appetite. The coughing can be prompted by excitement, play, drinking or eating, or by applying pressure to the throat. Symptoms can last from only a few days to several weeks.

All dogs are susceptible to kennel cough. While there is a vaccination available for the bordetella virus which is the most common strain of kennel cough, since there are other strains that are not be covered by the vaccination, the vaccine may not prevent your dog from contracting the disease. The best way to limit (but not eliminate) your dog’s exposure, is to limit him from public areas where other dogs congregate as much as possible.

Treatment should include a veterinarian visit so that the doctor examination can determine if a cough suppressant and antibiotics are necessary as they are not appropriate in every case. Walking the dog using a neck collar should be avoided during symptoms as this can put more pressure on the trachea thus eliciting the cough and further inflaming his trachea. A vaporizer or putting the dog in the bathroom while running a steam shower to help unclog the nose and open breathing passages is also useful. There are also some natural remedies that can be utilized to help the dog ease through the symptoms. Treating for kennel cough does not mean the dog will never contract the disease again. As with the human cold, anytime the dog is near other dogs and dog areas, he is at risk of catching the disease.