Bordetella (Kennel Cough)

Dogs and puppies cough from time to time. They are also boarded at a kennel, groomer or veterinary hospital as some time in their lives. The exposure to these other dogs also can expose them to viruses and cause kennel cough.

Kennel cough, (infections tracheobronchitis), is very contagious. Kennel cough is caused by a group of specific viruses and bacterium. You may have heard the term “bordatella” when you were discussing vaccinations for your dog. These are airborne germs spread by infected dogs through coughing. Your dog can become infected after a short exposure to the air that an infected dog has been. It can be caught at the groomers, vets or at the boarding kennel. It can also be caught at the dog park when although your dog is socializing with his buddies. Obedience classes, trips to the pet store and any other time your dog is exposed to other dogs, is a potential threat for your dog to get kennel cough. Although your dog may be exposed on a Monday, it is possible that there will be no symptoms until later in the week.

The only prevention is keeping your dog healthy,paying attention to a good diet, plenty of exercise and staying current with vaccinations.
Kennel cough first appears as a dry, hacking cough. There is no fluid produced.

The cough can be short or persistent and can last throughout the day. Often it will keep the owners up at night. As the cough continues and progresses there is a possibility that there will be a mucous or foamy discharge. There is also the possibility of a nasal discharge. If this should occur in your dog, a trip to the veterinarian may be in order.

Kennel cough cannot be treated with antibiotics, but antibiotics are useful against the secondary bacterial infection that may set in after the virus has invaded. Viruses are not killed by antibiotics. It will take about two weeks for the cough to work its way out of your dogs system. If the cough is more serious than kennel cough, such as canine influenza or distemper, you veterinarian will diagnose and treat if possible. Oftentimes, a cough suppressant may also be prescribed to help with the cough.
If you have more than one dog in your household, you should do everything you can to keep the infected dog away from the others. The only problem with that is by the time one dog has been diagnosed, the others may already be infected. Treat all of your dogs to help get it out of your home as quickly as possible.
Kennel Cough complex includes the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica, adenovirus, and parainfluenza. There are other viruses that can also cause coughing such as distemper and canine influenza. The latter viruses cause a more serious disease. Dogs that are around other dogs are most likely to get the disease. It doesn’t matter if your dog is a pound puppy or a show dog, if they have been around other dogs there is always a chance that they have been bombarded by bacteria and viruses. If there is even the slightest compromise in your dogs immune system, the chances of infection increase.
If your dog is coughing excessively, your veterinarian will perform a physical examination. In “kennel cough” a slight stimulation of the throat will cause your dog to cough. Other causes of coughing in dogs can include heartworm disease, cancer, congestive heart disease and bronchitis. If the diagnosis is yet to be determined, laboratory tests will be performed. Your veterinarian may want to do a blood count, radiographs and other laboratory diagnostics to help determine the cause of the cough.
Immunization is recommended by most vets. It can help to prevent the most common causes of kennel cough. If you are traveling to another country, you should have your dog immunized. Most countries will require this vaccination to allow your dog to enter the country. There are many reasons to have vaccinations, kennel cough is just one of them.
Vaccinations are started when your puppy is 6 – 8 weeks old. The vaccines are then given every year to maintain protection. If your dog is going to a boarding kennel, you may want to get a booster 2 weeks before entering the kennel and you may want to consider adding the new Canine influenza vaccination also.
Recognizing a cough that does not go away after a couple of days can help the pet owner to get the necessary care for their dog. It is not safe to assume that it is allergies or just a cold. If the cough is persistent, you should make an appointment to visit with your veterinarian and get the proper care to get your pet back on the path to wellness.

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