Have you heard the term Kennel cough and never understood what it was? Here is what it is, how your dog can contract it and how to avoid it!
Sigh….the season of Kennel cough is upon us and just as annoying as the common cold is for humans, such is the kennel cough for our furbabies.
I remember last year when my doodle came home from his doggy daycare and he seemed a little lethargic… I thought it seems normal that he’s tired after running around all day at daycare. Then when he didn’t eat his dinner and still just wanted to sleep, I thought this isn’t normal. I summed it up to him being exhausted, only to be woken up in the middle of the night to the sound of what seemed like there were Canadian Geese running around my living room honking! I of course panicked and assumed he was choking to death on something and ran to get him. He continued to do this all night long and needless to say neither one of us got much sleep.
After bringing him to the vet in a panicked frenzy the next day, I was told he had “Kennel cough” also known as “Bordetella” and he most likely picked it up at daycare. I now know this “honking” he was doing is technically called a “reverse sneeze”. The vet advised other symptoms include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and a runny nose. I was advised that most cases of kennel cough will resolve without treatment, but medications may speed recovery or minimize symptoms during the course of infection. These include antibiotics and cough medicines. Thankfully my dog recovered without any antibiotics needed!
So what the heck is Kennel cough anyways?
Without getting too technical, Kennel Cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease. Dogs commonly contract kennel cough at places where large amounts of canines congregate, such as boarding and daycare facilities, dog parks, training groups, and dog shows. Dogs can spread it to one another through airborne droplets, direct contact (e.g., touching noses), or contaminated surfaces (including water/food bowls)
So what’s the deal? My dog has been vaccinated for Bordetella??
Yes, and so was mine. Kennel cough is a syndrome, not a specific disease. It can be caused by many different viruses and bacteria, often in combination. Kennel cough vaccines are typically targeted against Bordetella and canine parainfluenza, two important causes of kennel cough, but not the only causes.
Always remember-No vaccine is 100% effective. Vaccines help reduce the risk of illness, but they don’t completely eliminate it.
So how do I prevent my dog from catching it?
1. Here’s the obvious one- get your dog vaccinated and ensure the dogs they spend time with are vaccinated as well. Although it is not guaranteed- it’s the first step in prevention.
2. Ensure that your dog’s daycare, grooming or boarding facility require a mandatory Bordetella (kennel cough) vaccine before they’ll accept your dog at their facility.
3. Be very picky when choosing the daycare your dog frequents. Tour the facility and question their sanitation practices. They should have a rigorous disinfection routine. Everything must be thoroughly disinfected regularly. Bowls and dishes, kennels, tables, toys, all equipment, etc. should be sterilized regularly using surface disinfectants. This is the first step in prevention, yet it can only offer so much protection against Kennel Cough in dogs.
If your dog has the unfortunate luck of coming down with Kennel cough or if you suspect they have it, always bring them to see the vet. They will probably just need rest and isolation but it is always better to be safe than sorry. Most cases will resolve themselves within 7-14 days. If symptoms don't improve, dogs should be re-examined and further evaluation may be necessary. MOST IMPORTANTLY: KEEP YOUR DOG AT HOME AND AWAY FROM OTHER DOGS!