Kennel Cough is a common upper respiratory disease in dogs caused by one or more airborne infectious agents that irritate the interior of your dog’s throat. Symptoms will usually show themselves within three to seven days after the initial exposure and last about ten days to three weeks. Your dog can then continue to carry the offending bacteria or virus for up to fourteen weeks, making him contagious to other dogs even after he is completely recovered.
Though the name kennel cough is one of the most commonly heard terms for this disease, your dog can catch it from any location where dogs are congregated for any amount of time. The disease causing agents are airborne, but your dog needs relatively close contact with an infected dog or an item that an infected dog has had contact with, like a toy or water bowl. The disease does not survive long outside of the body, but thoroughly disinfecting shared items or housing and washing your hands is good practice to help prevent spreading.
The most notable symptom that also gives the disease its common name is coughing. Infected dogs will develop a cough with a dry hacking sound, almost like they need to clear their throat. The coughing usually goes on every few minutes all day long and is sometimes accompanied by gagging, sneezing or a watery discharge from the nose. An elevated temperature is not typically present. Most dogs continue to be alert and active with a healthy appetite, but care should be taken in the amount of physical stimulation an infected dog receives so as not to further trigger throat irritation and coughing. Canine cough can progress to more severe symptoms in dogs whose immune systems are not working as they should be or are compromised by other ailments, or in unvaccinated puppies. Some of these might include lack of appetite, listlessness, fever, and pneumonia.
The diagnosis and treatment of canine cough depends on the severity of the symptoms and should only be determined after an exam by your veterinarian. In an otherwise healthy and alert dog, medication is often not required and the disease is allowed to run its course. Antibiotics can be prescribed if there is a possibility of complications from secondary infections, but this does not necessarily lessen the amount of time that your dog is ill or contagious. Over-the-counter or prescription cough suppressants may also be utilized to lessen the severity of the cough and to make your dog more comfortable. You will be able to continue to feed your dog as you normally would, but exercise should be curtailed until he has a clean bill of health. Vigorous play or exercise will make your dog breathe harder, which further irritates his throat and encourages more coughing. A dog that has already had canine cough is usually more resistant to contracting it again, or the symptoms are generally less severe than during the first occurrence.
Vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate. The standard five-way vaccination, DHLPP, will provide protection against one of the most common infecting agents of the disease, parainfluenza. An intranasal vaccine specifically for canine cough is also available that goes directly to the area that needs the most safeguarding: the nasal passage and throat since this is how the disease enters the body. Some dogs will display mild signs of canine cough after receiving the vaccination, but these will typically subside within a few days.
COUGHING DOG (WITH PRODUCTIVE COUGH):
REVERSE SNEEZING DOG:
Location: Woodland, Washington State
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