Coughing dogs are no fun for you or your dog. With the holidays near, many dogs may spend time away from home at boarding facilities. That can expose your furry friend to a kennel cough. Learn how to protect your dog, by understanding more about Canine Kennel Cough.
How To Treat Canine Kennel Cough
The technical name for a kennel cough is canine infectious tracheobronchitis. It’s very contagious and common for dogs. A kennel cough basically results in a sore throat with coughing when the dog’s larynx, trachea, and bronchi (tubes leading to the lungs) become inflamed.
All dogs are susceptible, but crowded conditions where many dogs interact predispose these canines to exposure. Kennels, dog shows, dog parks or other stressful conditions may spread the disease.
Most cases of a kennel cough cause only mild disease. The coughing may bother owners more than the dogs. However, kennel cough in youngsters can stunt lung development, and develop into life-threatening pneumonia.
Causes of Kennel Cough
Any or combination of several different infectious agents may cause a kennel cough. The most common causes are bacteria (Bordetella bronchiseptica) the canine parainfluenza virus, and the canine adenovirus-2 (CAV-2). These agents attach themselves to delicate hair-like cilia in the dog’s trachea. Sometimes the bacteria or virus removes the cilia.
Cilia are designed to protect the tracheobronchial tract by clearing away irritants with wavy motions that sweep away microorganisms. When cilia can’t get rid of these infectious agents, the dog’s respiratory tract becomes even more irritated, creating a vicious cycle.
Symptoms of Kennel Cough
A chronic high-pitched honking cough is the most common sign of a kennel cough. A cough is brought on by drinking or even pressure upon the base of the dog’s neck from tugging on their leash. Less often, dogs also develop a nasal or eye discharge, and dogs may suffer a slight fever or loss of appetite. The signs can last from a few days to several weeks.
How Do Dogs Catch Kennel Cough
Infection is spread through the saliva and nasal secretions. It may occur by direct nose-to-nose contact. However, coughing also transmits the agents through the air from one dog to another. Signs develop four to six days following exposure.
Diagnosis is based on the dog’s recent history and clinical signs. Because the disease results in a vicious cycle of irritation causing the cough, and cough causing further irritation, cough suppressants to relieve persistent coughing is very important.
Treating Kennel Cough
Holistic veterinarians may recommend herbal remedies to help soothe the discomfort and speed recovery. A Chinese herbal liquid called loquat is very sweet, and dogs may lick this willingly off the spoon. Ask your vet about the dosage.
You can also make your remedy by combining lemon and honey. Mix two tablespoons of honey and a teaspoon of lemon juice in one-half cup of water and give to the dog a couple of times a day. For congestion, the herb mullein is available in capsule form and helps break up congestion that may accompany a kennel cough.
Ask your veterinarian for antibiotics if your dog has a kennel cough. Anti-inflammatory drugs and bronchodilators that open breathing passages to help the dog breathe may also be prescribed.
Preventing Kennel Cough
Preventative vaccinations are available. However, since so many different causes may be involved, protection can be tricky. Vaccinations against bacteria don’t last as long as those against viruses, for instance. Some vaccines are given as injections while others provide “local immunity” with drops in the dog’s nose, which offers about six months’ protection.
If your dog is at high risk, traveling to dog shows or being boarded while you’re gone, ask your veterinarian about annual or oftener vaccinations. Your dog will thank you for it!
Has your dog ever had to deal with Canine Kennel Cough? Tell us more about it in the comment section below!
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