Focus on kennel cough
Kennel cough – the socialite’s burden
Canine cough syndrome or a disease more commonly known as “Kennel cough” is an upper respiratory infection of dogs.
Different viruses can cause the symptoms. But there is also a bacterial component to most Kennel Cough infections due to a bug called Bordetella Bronchiseptica.
If your dog’s annual vaccinations are up to date he will have a degree of immunity against the viral component but not against Bordetella. A separate vaccination that is not routinely given to dogs unless you specifically request it, but will give good protection against this bacteria.
• All dogs can benefit from the Bordetella vaccine but certain dogs are at increased risk to catch kennel cough.
• Increased contact with other dogs increases the risk of contracting this contagious disease. Dogs going to day-care, puppy school, training, groomers, kennels or dogs that often socialize on the beach or park are at increased risk for exposure to kennel cough.
• In dogs with heart disease, a collapsed trachea or chronic lung disease it is recommended to do kennel cough vaccine yearly. In patients with these underlying health problems pre-existent kennel cough may cause more dramatic symptoms and distress. Brachycephalic (flat-broad faced dogs) like the Bull dog, Pug and Pekingese also battle more with respiratory infections due to their facial anatomy.
• Nose-to-nose contact is not required for spread – the disease agents go airborne.
• It is usually only a disease of the upper respiratory tract and rarely will migrate down in to the chest. Although it can be a self-limiting disease it is recommended to take your dog to a vet if cough lasts for longer than 24 hours
• The Bordetella vaccine is not 100% protective and vaccinated dogs can still get kennel cough but usually a milder form.
• It is highly contagious to other dogs but not to cats or humans.
• The vaccine will take 7-10 days to give protection, it is therefore important to vaccinate your dog at least 2 weeks prior to going to kennels.
Treatment of infectious tracheobronchitis (kennel cough)
The causative pathogens mainly attack the lining of the air pipe causing a constant “tickle” in the throat. This leads to a honking dry cough with retching. The owner often describes it as “if something is stuck in the dog’s throat”.
Treatment is aimed at giving relieve and preventing complications:
• The dog’s immune system will need to respond to the viral component of the disease.
• Dogs cannot take a Strepsil for a tickle in the throat – vets will often give an anti-inflammatory injection to ease the tickle.
• In most cases an antibiotic will be prescribe to address the bacterial component and to prevent other secondary bacterial infections
• In some cases a cough suppressant will be prescribed to give some relieve and to ensure some “shut-eye” for the family.
This disease is highly contagious to other dogs, often rears its ugly head in autumn and spring and often will affect all the dogs in the household.
If your pooch is a socialite or at increased risk for kennel cough discuss the vaccine protocol with your vet.
Article by: Dr Adel Ferreira