Kennel cough is often easily treated
Kennel cough, or tracheobronchitis, is a very contagious respiratory disease of dogs, commonly seen in dogs coming out of shelters or pet stores. There seems to be many puppies affected this summer.
Tracheobronchitis is defined as any contagious respiratory disease that is manifested by coughing and gagging that is not caused by canine distemper virus. The dogs cough because the lining of the respiratory tract has been damaged by injury, viral infection or bacterial invasion.
Younger dogs ” anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months old ” are more commonly affected, but dogs of any age can catch kennel cough. Older dogs often have a pre-existing airway disease, such as a congenital anomaly or chronic bronchitis.
The symptoms vary from mild to severe depending on the amount of damage to the respiratory tract. The signs can begin about four days after exposure to the infection.
The cough may be dry and hacking, soft and dry, or moist and hacking. There might be non-stop gagging followed by coughing up of mucus. Occasionally the coughing is so strong the dog may vomit.
Coughing fits can be caused by excitement, exercise, changes in temperature, humidity and pressure on the trachea, perhaps from a collar.
In severe cases, the dog may have a low-grade fever and may wheeze.
Still, treatment is simple. First, owners should keep the dog from extreme physical activity, because any exercise will irritate the respiratory tract and cause more coughing. Dogs should also be kept away from other dogs because kennel cough is contagious. Infected dogs can transmit the disease before onset of clinical signs and afterward, until immunity develops.
Treatment may take up 10 or 14 days, during which the dog can be given antibiotics and cough suppressants, such as pediatric Robitussin or narcotics such as hycodan Severe cases may take two to six weeks to cure.
There is a vaccine called the bordatella vaccine that’s usually given every 6 months. Many dogs live normal lives without the vaccine and never contract the disease. But if your dog is kenneled or exposed to many other dogs, than the vaccine is advised.
Overall this is a common disease and easily treated. It is more of an inconvenience and is seen in overcrowded animal facilities such as busy shelters, pet shops and breeding kennels.
It is not contagious to humans but I would still avoid your dog from coughing in your face. It may even be advisable to remove the collar while treating your dog or getting a harness if you need to keep your dog on a leash for his outings.
Dr. Nadine Lober can be reached at 949-7972
Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado
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