What is Kennel Cough?

by Dr Candice Cooper

vet dog kennel cough
What is Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough is an infectious bronchitis that occurs in dogs and is characterised by a harsh, hacking cough that sounds like your dog has something stuck in their throat.

It is usually a mild disease with a short duration but can progress to a life-threatening pneumonia depending on the strength of your dog’s immune system (usually young, stressed or otherwise debilitated dogs).

An uncomplicated case of kennel cough usually lasts about a week or two and your dog is normal besides coughing.

There are 9 micro-organisms that can cause kennel cough and it usually involves a mixture of several of these micro-organisms. An infected dog will shed the micro-organisms in its respiratory secretions which float in the air and are inhaled by other dogs. Crowded housing with sub-optimal air circulation and warm air, e.g., kennels, increases the risk of transmission. The micro-organisms can also be spread by sharing toys, bowls, etc.

The incubation period is 2-14 days and dogs are usually sick for about 1-2 weeks. Dogs that have had kennel cough can shed the micro-organisms for up to 3 months following infection.


How is Kennel Cough Diagnosed?

We diagnose kennel cough based on several factors:

The clinical symptoms your dog is showing, i.e., coughing. A poor appetite, fever, lethargy could indicate pneumonia.

A history of being in a crowd of dogs.

Our findings on clinical examination of your dog. Usually, we just see a coughing dog that is otherwise well.

We may recommend radiographs (x-rays) if we are concerned your dog may have pneumonia.

Laboratories can perform a PCR panel to test for DNA of the organisms that cause kennel cough, but it is seldom necessary to perform these tests in order to reach a diagnosis.


How is Kennel Cough treated?

An uncomplicated case of kennel cough will go away by itself.

Cough suppressants may be indicated to provide symptomatic relief, but I am always cautious of prescribing these too readily in case the cough becomes productive. Suppressing a productive cough means that your dog will not be able to cough up phlegm and this may lead to pneumonia.

Your dog should show a significant improvement or even recover within about a week in an uncomplicated case of kennel cough.

Antibiotics will be prescribed if we are concerned that your dog may have pneumonia.


How do I prevent my dog from getting Kennel Cough?

The answer to this is very simple: vaccinate!


For more information or to book a Vaccination Consultation, contact Gardens Pet Clinic & Spa on 0214614333, WhatsApp 0727225015 admin@petclinicvet.com or https://www.facebook.com/gardenspetclinic

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