It is now the height of summer in the northern hemisphere, and while that means pleasure, joy, and adventures in the dog park for our furry friends, it’s also a time to be extra careful. While you would generally associate a cough with winter, it is in actual fact summer when your dog has a greater chance of contracting kennel cough. So now is the time to be aware, and be ready! Although kennel cough itself is generally not a serious condition and usually goes away naturally after a few weeks, it can have more serious consequences in some cases, and is certainly worth taking extra care with. Plus at some stage the vast majority of dogs will suffer from kennel cough. That’s why it’s important to know of the different ways you can prevent, identify, and treat kennel cough. This will help you give your dog the proper care if you notice any symptoms, and avoid more serious problems from having the chance to develop.

Prevention First!

The cold, hard truth is, much like the common cold, Kennel Cough is very hard to avoid, and to stop from spreading. Firstly there is more than one culprit that causes it, only around 80% of cases are from exposure to the Bordatella bacterium, other causes are various other viruses. All of these can expose your dog simply by it breathing in the same air as another animal with kennel cough, and it is contagious for weeks or even months after symptoms have passed from the other animal. So preventing the spread of infection is almost impossible. There is a vaccine against Bordatella which can be offered, but this doesn’t protect against every cause of Kennel Cough. It does though reduce the chance of your dog getting it. Avoidance of boarding places, if possible, is another prevention in summer. After all it doesn’t get the name ‘Kennel Cough’ for no reason. When your dog is in close confinement with other canines it is naturally going to greatly increase the chances of them catching the cough. This is especially true in hot, poorly ventilated areas. So if you have to board your dog with others in summer make sure it is a well ventilated area as this will greatly reduce the likelihood of infection.

The major symptoms of Kennel Cough:

  •         Dry hacking cough is the most common symptom
  •         A cough that sounds like honking
  •         Retching, and bringing up a whitish liquid
  •         Watery nasal discharge
  •         In mild cases, dogs would likely be active and eating normally
  •         In severe cases it can cause pneumonia, fever and in a VERY tiny number, death.
Severe cases are most common amongst unvaccinated puppies. Naturally if you notice any of these symptoms persisting, a prompt jaunt to your local, friendly vet is the order of the day!

Treatment

shutterstock_183154319 Your vet will then evaluate whether your dog has ‘uncomplicated’ or ‘complicated’ Kennel Cough. Uncomplicated is the most common, and as said earlier is usually not serious at all. Effectively the dog is perfectly healthy except for exhibiting a dry, hacking cough and possibly retching up some whitish liquid. Treatment of this is usually not necessary, but antibiotics are often given to prevent a secondary infection from occurring. If your dog does have ‘complicated’ or severe Kennel cough and is suffering from fever, appetite loss or extreme tiredness then a more robust course of fluids and antibiotics will be administered. There are a few things you can do to help your furry friends with this illness! Switching from a collar to a harness while walking your dog will be a great benefit, as wearing the collar while on the lead can put pressure on the trachea. Any extra pressure, whether from excitement of the dog or from pulling on the collar will cause your dog to cough. shutterstock_246278593 In the few weeks or so after your dog has kennel cough, try to limit their interaction and proximity to other dogs to an absolute minimum. If you have another dog in the house, it would be ideal if you knew of someone who could look after them for a short time, and lower the chances of them getting kennel cough. Also keeping them in a well humidified area, and away from cigarette smoke will be better for their cough. So be on the lookout for symptoms over the next few months. Though it is rarely a serious problem, it is better safe than sorry. The quicker you spot the symptoms, get to the vets, and keep your dog away from other animals, the sooner that particular spread of the virus will be contained!