Kennel Cough is otherwise known as Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis, which is a highly contagious infection of the respiratory tract. It is known as Kennel Cough because often dogs that contract this infection have recently been to kennels or other places with lots of dogs (such as dog parks).
Canine Infectious Tracheobronchitis usually has a bacterial component (Bordatella Bronchiseptica) and a viral component (Parainfluenza Virus). It is spread via nose to nose contact between dogs as they inhale the infected particles in.
The most frequent symptom observed is a loud honking cough. Owners often describe it as a “goose” honk or are concerned something is stuck in their throat. The dog may also have a high temperature, inappetence or other respiratory symptoms such as a runny nose or eye discharge. Unvaccinated dogs will present with more severe symptoms.
For most patients the symptoms are self-limiting and no treatment is required. Due to the contagious nature of this illness it is recommended the dog be kept apart from other dogs for at least a week after symptoms cease. Dogs may cough for up to 2-3 weeks (even longer in older patients) and if the cough is bothersome cough suppressants can be dispensed by your vet. Please do not use human cough medicines as they often contain flavour additives that could be toxic to your dog. If your dog’s cough persists or they are quite unwell antibiotics may be prescribed as well as cough suppressants and x-rays recommended if the cough is not resolving. Unvaccinated patients may require hospitalisation and more intensive management.
We recommend all dogs be vaccinated against Parainfluenza Virus and Bordatella Bronchiseptica. This is part of a routine C5 vaccination and requires annual boosters. Whilst this will not stop your dog contracting the infection it will drastically reduce their symptoms.