Vail pets: Kennel cough comes from crowds |

Vail pets: Kennel cough comes from crowds

Nadine Lober
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado –Most Vail Valley dog owners have heard of or seen a dog with the gagging cough known as kennel cough, or tracheobronchitis.

This disease is a very contagious respiratory disease, commonly seen in dogs coming out of shelters or pet stores and, sometimes, boarding facilities. The reason that the dog coughs is because of the damage to the lining of the respiratory tract. This damage is due to injury or viral infection, or secondary bacterial invasion.

Usually the respiratory system is the only one affected, and younger dogs – anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months old – are likely to get the disease, though it can develop in dogs of any age. Older dogs who get the disease often have a pre-existing disease such as chronic bronchitis or a congenital defect.

Symptoms, which can appear a few days after exposure, vary from mild to severe depending on the amount of damage to the respiratory tract. The cough may be dry and hacking, soft and dry, or moist and hacking. The dog may gag non-stop and cough up mucus. Occasionally the coughing is so strong that the dog might vomit from. Coughing fits can be caused excitement, exercise, and pressure on the trachea from a collar.

Treatment is simple – first, restrict extreme physical activity because any exercise will irritate the respiratory tract and cause more coughing. Second, keep dogs isolated from other dogs because the disease is contagious. Infected dogs can transmit the disease before onset of clinical signs and afterward, until immunity develops. Treatment with antibiotics and cough suppressants may take up to 10 or 14 days.

Many dogs never contract the disease, but if your dog is kenneled or exposed to many other dogs, than he or she should get the bordatella vaccine to prevent kennel cough.

Kennel cough 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

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