Kennel Cough (Bordatella)
The term “kennel cough” can refer to any contagious respiratory disease in dogs. Kennel cough can be caused by bacterial or viral infections. Bordetella bronchiseptica is the most common bacterial cause of kennel cough, but other bacteria can also cause respiratory disease. The most common viral cause of kennel cough is Parainfluenza, but other viruses can also cause respiratory disease.
Since what is commonly known as the “kennel cough” nasal vaccine contains protection only against the agents Bordetella and Parainfluenza, it is not protective against the other causes of kennel cough.
The kennel cough vaccine is intended to prevent severe disease, not eliminate any possibility of infection (similar to the human flu vaccine).
The primary sign is coughing. The cough can be moist or dry, soft or hacking, and gagging to the point of vomiting is possible. Coughing spasms may be triggered by exercise, temperature changes (going from indoors to the cold outdoors), or when pressure is applied to the throat region (such as when a dog wearing a collar pulls on a leash).
The illness can vary widely from a mild infection to a serious case of pneumonia. Additional signs of disease may include fever, lethargy, exercise intolerance, lack of appetite, or labored breathing.
Contagious respiratory diseases are easily spread through places where dogs congregate such as kennels, grooming facilities, dog parks, and shelters. Signs usually begin anywhere from four to 10 days post-exposure.
Since respiratory secretions become aerosolized in the air, these diseases are easily transmitted to other dogs. Disease can also be spread by contact with contaminated dishware or hands.
Once a location (kennel or otherwise) becomes contaminated with kennel cough, it generally needs to be shut down for 1 to 2 weeks and a thorough disinfection must be performed.
General nursing care, such as rest, softening food with water (due to throat irritation), and exercise restriction (both to decrease exposure to other dogs and to allow the affected patient to rest).
The normal course of disease takes roughly 10-14 days to resolve. It is recommended to keep the patient isolated from other dogs during this time to prevent further spread of disease.
Medications such as antibiotics and cough suppressants may be used, depending on severity of disease. Please call with any questions or concerns--Dr. Ann M. Anderson