Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease that affects dogs of all ages and breeds. It is caused by a variety of viruses and bacteria, with the most common culprit being the Bordetella bronchiseptica bacterium. Dogs can contract kennel cough in a number of ways, including through direct contact with an infected dog, inhaling airborne pathogens, or sharing food and water bowls with infected dogs.
One way to help prevent kennel cough is to keep a dental water additive in your dog’s water bowl. This can help kill bacteria and pathogens in the water that may make your dog sick. Additionally, it’s important to keep your dog away from other dogs that may be infected, especially in places like dog parks, kennels, and grooming facilities where the disease can easily spread through fomites such as toys and grooming tools.
So, by referring to studies and research like the “Aetiology of Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex “, we aim to tell you everything you need to know about how does get kennel cough and how to prevent it.
So, How Do Dogs Get Kennel Cough?
Dogs can contract kennel cough in a variety of ways, including exposure to infected dogs in close quarters, such as in a kennel, shelter, or daycare facility, contact with contaminated surfaces, such as food and water bowls, toys, or bedding. And, exposure to cold, damp, or poorly ventilated environments that weaken their immune system.
Symptoms of kennel cough typically include a dry, hacking cough, sneezing, and nasal discharge. In severe cases, it can lead to pneumonia or other respiratory complications.
To prevent the spread of kennel cough, it is important to keep your dog up-to-date on vaccinations, avoid close contact with infected dogs, and maintain good hygiene practices, such as washing your hands and disinfecting surfaces regularly.
Understanding Kennel Cough
Kennel cough, also known as canine infectious respiratory disease complex (CIRDC), is a highly contagious respiratory illness that affects dogs of all ages and breeds. The disease is caused by a combination of viruses and bacteria, including the canine parainfluenza virus, canine adenovirus, and Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria.
Kennel cough primarily targets a dog’s upper respiratory tract, which includes the trachea (windpipe) and larynx (voice box). When the bacteria or viruses responsible for kennel cough enter the respiratory tract, they adhere to the mucosal lining and start to multiply. This causes inflammation and irritation in the affected areas.
Inflammation and Irritation
The immediate effect is usually a dry, hacking cough, often compared to the sound of a goose honk. This is a result of the inflammation and irritation in the trachea and larynx. The cough is usually worse during moments of excitement or physical activity and can be exacerbated in cold or dusty conditions.
The inflammation and irritation weaken the normal defense mechanisms of the respiratory tract, making it easier for secondary bacterial or viral infections to establish themselves. This can lead to more serious conditions like pneumonia if not treated appropriately.
Production of Mucus
The body’s response to the infection often involves producing more mucus to trap and eliminate the pathogens. However, the excess mucus can further block the airways, leading to additional symptoms like wheezing or difficulty breathing in more severe cases.
Discomfort and Lethargy
The constant coughing and general discomfort can make a dog more lethargic and less interested in food or play. This can be distressing for the pet owner and can also weaken the dog’s overall condition, making recovery slower.
Though kennel cough is generally not a severe illness in otherwise healthy dogs, its symptoms can be quite uncomfortable and can significantly impact a dog’s quality of life for the duration of the illness. Treatment often involves supportive care like cough suppressants and sometimes antibiotics for secondary bacterial infections.
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Transmission of Kennel Cough
Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease that affects dogs of all ages and breeds. It can be transmitted in a variety of ways, including direct and indirect contact.
Direct contact is the most common way that kennel cough is transmitted. This occurs when an infected dog comes into contact with a healthy dog. This can happen through a variety of ways, such as:
- Sharing food and water bowls;
- Playing together;
- Sniffing each other; and
- Licking each other.
When an infected dog coughs or sneezes, they release aerosolized droplets that contain the bacteria or virus that causes kennel cough. These droplets can be inhaled by a healthy dog, leading to infection.
Indirect contact occurs when a healthy dog comes into contact with a contaminated object or surface. This can happen when a healthy dog comes into contact with an object that has been contaminated by an infected dog, such as:
- Food and water bowls;
- Bedding; and
- Collars and leashes.
The bacteria or virus that causes kennel cough can survive on surfaces for several days, increasing the risk of transmission. When a healthy dog comes into contact with a contaminated object or surface, they can become infected if they lick or sniff the object.
It’s important to note that kennel cough can also be transmitted by humans who have come into contact with an infected dog. Humans can carry the bacteria or virus on their clothing or skin, increasing the risk of transmission to healthy dogs.
The Most Common Ways Dogs Get Kennel Cough
Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease that is caused by a combination of bacteria and viruses. The disease is commonly found in places where dogs congregate, such as kennels, dog parks, and dog shows. Here are the most common ways dogs get kennel cough:
The most common way dogs get kennel cough is through direct contact with an infected dog. This can happen when dogs are playing together, sharing toys or water bowls, or simply sniffing each other. The bacteria and viruses that cause kennel cough can be easily spread through the air, so even a brief encounter with an infected dog can lead to infection.
Dogs can also get kennel cough by coming into contact with contaminated surfaces. This can include toys, food and water bowls, bedding, and even the ground. The bacteria and viruses that cause kennel cough can survive on surfaces for several hours, so it’s important to keep these areas clean and disinfected.
Stress can weaken a dog’s immune system, making them more susceptible to infections like kennel cough. Dogs that are in crowded or noisy environments, or those that are exposed to extreme temperatures, are more likely to develop kennel cough. It’s important to keep your dog’s stress levels low and provide them with a comfortable and safe environment.
Weakened Immune System
Dogs with weakened immune systems, such as puppies, older dogs, and dogs with pre-existing medical conditions, are more likely to develop kennel cough. It’s important to keep these dogs away from other dogs and to provide them with extra care and attention to help boost their immune system.
In summary, kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease that can be easily spread through direct contact with infected dogs, contaminated surfaces, stress, and weakened immune systems. It’s important to take steps to prevent the spread of kennel cough and to provide your dog with a safe and comfortable environment.
Factors Increasing the Risk of Kennel Cough in Dogs
Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease in dogs, primarily caused by the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica and less commonly by viruses like parainfluenza. The condition can occur as a bacterial or viral infection first, and either way, it creates a weakened state that makes the respiratory tract more susceptible to a secondary infection. The pathogens are typically spread through airborne droplets when an infected dog coughs or sneezes but can also survive on contaminated surfaces. Here are some factors that can increase your dog’s risk of developing kennel cough:
1. Crowded or Poorly Ventilated Conditions
Places like kennels, rescue centers, and shelters often house a large number of dogs in close proximity. Poor ventilation can contribute to the rapid spread of respiratory pathogens, including those causing kennel cough.
2. Social Gatherings of Dogs
Dog training classes, agility courses, or even informal gatherings facilitated by dog walkers or house sitters can be risky if any of the dogs are infected. The closer and more numerous the dogs, the higher the chances of disease spread.
3. Cold Temperatures
Cold weather can weaken a dog’s immune system and make the respiratory tract more susceptible to infection. This creates an ideal condition for kennel cough pathogens to take hold.
4. Dust and Cigarette Smoke
Exposure to irritants like dust or cigarette smoke can inflame your dog’s respiratory tract, making it easier for kennel cough bacteria or viruses to infect them.
5. Travel-Induced Stress
Stress, like that which can occur during travel, can weaken your dog’s immune system, making them more susceptible to infections like kennel cough.
Being aware of these risk factors can help you take appropriate preventative measures. While vaccines for kennel cough are available, they may not protect against all strains. Therefore, it’s crucial to combine vaccination with practical steps, like avoiding high-risk scenarios when possible, to keep your dog healthy. Always consult your veterinarian for personalized advice tailored to your dog’s specific needs.
Symptoms of Kennel Cough
Kennel cough, also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is a highly contagious respiratory disease that affects dogs of all ages. The symptoms of kennel cough are similar to those of a common cold in humans. They include:
- A dry, hacking cough;
- Runny nose;
- Watery eyes;
- Mild fever;
- Loss of appetite; and
The cough caused by kennel cough is often described as a “honking” sound, which is a result of inflammation in the dog’s trachea and bronchi. The cough may be triggered by excitement, exercise, or pressure on the dog’s trachea.
Most dogs with kennel cough will recover within two to three weeks, but in some cases, the disease can progress to pneumonia, which can be life-threatening.
If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms, it’s important to take them to the vet. The vet will be able to diagnose kennel cough and prescribe the appropriate treatment.
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Diagnosis of Kennel Cough
Diagnosis of kennel cough is usually based on clinical signs and history of exposure to other dogs. A veterinarian can often diagnose kennel cough based on the dog’s history of recent exposure to other dogs, a thorough physical examination, and characteristic clinical signs.
During the physical examination, the veterinarian will listen to the dog’s lungs and airways with a stethoscope to check for the characteristic cough and other abnormal sounds. The veterinarian may also perform a tracheal wash or bronchoscopy to collect samples of respiratory secretions for laboratory testing.
Laboratory testing may include bacterial cultures, viral isolation, and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing. Bacterial cultures may be used to identify the specific bacteria causing the infection, while viral isolation and PCR testing can identify the specific virus causing the infection.
In some cases, radiographs (x-rays) may be taken to evaluate the dog’s lungs and airways for signs of pneumonia or other complications.
It is important to note that kennel cough can have similar clinical signs to other respiratory infections, such as canine influenza or pneumonia. Therefore, it is important to consult with a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Treatment and Prevention of Kennel Cough
If a dog is diagnosed with kennel cough, the veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics to treat the bacterial infection. Cough suppressants may also be prescribed to help the dog feel more comfortable. In severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary to provide oxygen therapy and intravenous fluids.
In addition to medical treatment, home care can help speed up the recovery process. It is important to keep the dog in a warm and quiet environment to minimize stress on the respiratory system. Encouraging the dog to drink plenty of water can help keep them hydrated and loosen up mucus. Humidifiers or steam from a shower can also help soothe the dog’s cough.
Preventing kennel cough is possible by minimizing exposure to infected dogs. Vaccinations are available for some of the viruses that cause kennel cough, but they do not provide complete protection. It is important to keep the dog’s immune system strong through a healthy diet and regular exercise. Avoiding crowded areas such as dog parks and boarding facilities can also reduce the risk of infection.
|Medical Treatment||Home Care||Preventive Measures|
|Antibiotics||Warm and quiet environment||Vaccinations|
|Cough suppressants||Encourage drinking water||Strong immune system|
|Hospitalization (in severe cases)||Humidifiers or steam||Avoid crowded areas|
Complications and Risks of Kennel Cough
Kennel cough is usually a mild, self-limiting infection, but in some cases, veterinary sources point out that it can lead to more serious complications. The following are some of the possible complications and risks associated with kennel cough:
In some cases, kennel cough can progress to pneumonia, which is a more serious infection of the lungs. Pneumonia can cause fever, difficulty breathing, and coughing up blood. Pneumonia can be life-threatening, especially in young puppies, older dogs, or dogs with weakened immune systems.
Kennel cough can also lead to bronchitis, which is inflammation of the bronchial tubes. Bronchitis can cause coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. In severe cases, bronchitis can lead to respiratory failure.
Dogs with a pre-existing condition known as tracheal collapse may be at a higher risk of developing complications from kennel cough. Tracheal collapse is a condition in which the trachea, or windpipe, collapses or narrows, making it difficult for the dog to breathe. Kennel cough can exacerbate this condition, leading to more severe respiratory distress. Also see: Reasons for dogs not barking.
Weakened Immune System
Dogs with a weakened immune system, such as those with cancer, diabetes, or other chronic illnesses, may be at a higher risk of developing complications from kennel cough. These dogs may have a harder time fighting off the infection and may be more susceptible to secondary infections.
Spread of Infection
Kennel cough is highly contagious and can easily spread from dog to dog. Dogs with kennel cough should be kept away from other dogs to prevent the spread of infection. In some cases, kennel cough can also be transmitted to humans, although this is rare.
It is important to monitor dogs with kennel cough for any signs of complications and to seek veterinary care if necessary. With prompt treatment, most dogs with kennel cough will make a full recovery without any long-term complications.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the first signs of kennel cough?
The first signs of kennel cough may include a dry, hacking cough, retching, and gagging. In some cases, dogs may also experience a runny nose, sneezing, and lethargy.
What triggers kennel cough?
Kennel cough is caused by a variety of infectious agents, including viruses and bacteria. It can be triggered by close contact with infected dogs, exposure to contaminated surfaces, or stress.
How long does kennel cough last?
The duration of kennel cough can vary depending on the severity of the infection. Mild cases may resolve on their own within a week or two, while more severe cases may take several weeks to clear up.
Can humans catch kennel cough from dogs?
While kennel cough is primarily a canine disease, humans can occasionally become infected. However, the risk of transmission is low, and most cases are mild and self-limiting.
Can I walk my dog with kennel cough?
It is generally recommended that dogs with kennel cough avoid strenuous exercise and contact with other dogs until they have fully recovered. Walking your dog on a leash is usually okay, as long as you avoid areas where other dogs congregate.
How did my dog get kennel cough without being around other dogs?
While kennel cough is often associated with exposure to other dogs, it is possible for dogs to become infected without direct contact. For example, dogs can contract the disease from contaminated surfaces or through the air.
Can my dog get kennel cough from a cat?
While kennel cough is primarily a canine disease, cats can occasionally become infected. However, the risk of transmission is low, and most cases are mild and self-limiting.
Can My Dog Contract Kennel Cough from Me (the Owner or a Person)?
No, kennel cough is not zoonotic, meaning it doesn’t typically transfer between humans and dogs. The pathogens that cause kennel cough in dogs are specific to the canine species and are not contagious to humans.
Can My Dog Get Kennel Cough from My Clothes?
Yes, it’s possible. The bacteria and viruses that cause kennel cough can survive on surfaces and fabrics for some time. If you’ve been in contact with a dog that has kennel cough, the pathogens could cling to your clothes and then be transferred to your own dog when you handle them.
Can My Dog Contract Kennel Cough from Other Animals?
While kennel cough is primarily a canine illness, some pathogens could potentially be carried by other animals like cats or ferrets. However, the risk is much higher when in close contact with an infected dog.
Can My Dog Get Kennel Cough at the Vet’s Office?
Yes, veterinary clinics can be a hotbed for all sorts of infections, including kennel cough, especially if they have a communal waiting area for pets. Most vet offices take strict hygiene measures, but the risk cannot be entirely eliminated.
Can My Dog Contract Kennel Cough During a Walk?
The risk is lower but not zero. If your dog sniffs an area where an infected dog has coughed or sneezed, there’s a chance they could contract kennel cough. Always be cautious in areas frequented by many dogs.
Can My Dog Get Kennel Cough at the Dog Park?
Absolutely, yes. Dog parks are communal spaces where dogs interact closely, making them a common place for the spread of kennel cough. If an infected dog is in the park, the chances of your dog contracting kennel cough are high.
Can My Dog Contract Kennel Cough at a Boarding Facility?
Boarding facilities are one of the most common places for kennel cough to spread, hence the name “kennel cough.” Dogs are in close quarters and may share toys, food bowls, or bedding, providing an ideal environment for the spread of this respiratory illness.
In conclusion, kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory illness that affects dogs of all ages and breeds. It is caused by a combination of viruses and bacteria, and is transmitted through contact with infected dogs or contaminated surfaces. While most cases of kennel cough are mild and resolve on their own within a few weeks, some dogs may develop more severe symptoms and require medical treatment.
Prevention is key when it comes to kennel cough. Dog owners should ensure that their pets are up-to-date on their vaccinations and avoid exposing them to other dogs who may be sick. Boarding facilities and doggy daycares should also implement strict cleaning protocols to minimize the spread of the disease.
If a dog does develop kennel cough, prompt treatment can help alleviate symptoms and prevent complications. Treatment options may include antibiotics, cough suppressants, and rest. It is important to note that while kennel cough is typically not life-threatening, it can be more serious in puppies, senior dogs, and dogs with underlying health conditions.
By understanding the causes and symptoms of kennel cough, dog owners can take steps to protect their pets and prevent the spread of this common illness.
Tamsin De La HarpeAuthor
Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.
Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.
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