Kennel Cough – What You Need to Know

Just as humans can acquire a virus, like the “flu” or a common cold, our pets too can easily contract viral infections. And just like their human counterparts, it can make a dog feel miserable.

What is Kennel Cough?

“Kennel Cough” is the common name given to a complex of viral and bacterial infections in dogs; its more accurate name is “Infectious Canine Tracheobronchitis”. Similar to a chest cold in humans, this disease is found the world over, and infects most dogs at least once during their lifespan. It is a highly contagious condition, however most dogs recover fully without any veterinary intervention.

close-up Dog nose
Canine Cough is primarily an airborne disease.

Kennel Cough is typified by inflammation of the trachea (throat) and bronchi (windpipe).  Symptoms include:

  • Dry, hacking cough that may sound like “honking”
  • Watery nasal discharge
  • Retching
  • Lethargy
  • Milder cases of the disease allow dogs to continue eat and play normally

Severe (but rarer) cases can see symptoms progress to loss of appetite, fever, pneumonia, or even death.

Dogs most at risk include young unvaccinated puppies, whose immune systems are still developing, and older dogs whose immune systems are declining due to ageing. Pregnant bitches are also more susceptible to contracting viral and bacterial infections.

How Do Dogs Contract Kennel Cough?

Most dogs who contract Kennel Cough have been recently in contact with a number of other dogs (for example, playing at a dog park or boarding at a kennel). Veterinarians diagnose the disease by observing symptoms and noting the dog’s recent history. Analysis of blood and urine may be helpful.

Treatment for Kennel Cough depends upon the severity of the disease. Many dogs are left to fight the disease themselves, sometimes in tandem with an anti-inflammatory drug to optimise the dog’s comfort during recuperation. More severe cases will be treated with antibiotics.

How Do I Avoid Kennel Cough?

Any dog that plays or interacts with other dogs is at risk of Kennel Cough, as it is an airborne infection. Vaccination is by far the best option for dogs at high risk; it does not, however, provide a high level of protection.  It is important to note that when a dog is excited or stressed, immunity may become compromised and the dormant infection is able to take hold (just like in humans). While it may appear that a dog has contracted Kennel Cough from a kennel or day care facility, in many cases this is not necessarily accurate.

At Urban Paws, we do not accept dogs that have a current active infection or are showing signs of Kennel Cough; there are times, however, that a low grade infection is not discernible. We aren’t able to guarantee that exposure to this condition will not occur, however we take all possible measures to ensure it does not. If we have reason to suspect a dog in our care has Kennel Cough, the following steps will be taken:

  • Owners will be advised to collect their dog/s immediately.
  • During the time between us noting the condition and the dog being collected, the dog will remain in isolation with a personal handler assigned to them.
  • Following the all-clear (as advised by a veterinarian) the dog will need to wait fourteen days to return to day care.
  • Solo walks/visits by our dog walkers can be organised during the days the dog/s are not allowed back at day care.

These measures are undertaken for the health and wellbeing of all dogs in our care. Following a full recovery from Kennel Cough, and upon advice from a veterinarian, your dog will be welcomed back to day care.

Fortunately, most cases of Kennel Cough are mild, and resolve quickly. Rest assured that here at Urban Paws, the wellbeing and health of your dog is, at all times, our top priority.

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35 Hughes St, Yarraville
Vic 3013, Australia

16 Dowsett St, South Geelong
Vic 3220, Australia
03 9077 0562

Mon to Fri, 7:30am - 6pm (Yarraville)
Mon to Fri, 7:30am - 6pm (Geelong)