A guide to kennel cough

Kennel cough, or infectious canine tracheobronchitis, is a highly contagious respiratory disease among dogs.

Kennel cough is caused by an inflammation of the trachea and bronchi, and could be regarded as  the dog equivalent of the common cold. Dogs often develop kennel cough 3-4 days after exposure to a large number of other dogs – for example at a boarding facility or a show.

What are the signs of kennel cough?

  • A persistent cough is the most common symptom
  • Retching
  • Watery nasal discharge
  • In mild cases, dogs are often active and eating normally
  • In severe cases, symptoms progress and can include pneumonia, lack of appetite, fever and lethargy.

How is kennel cough treated?

The best way to treat kennel cough is with rest, hydration and good nutrition.

If your dog is more severely affected, your vet may prescribe them medication to reduce inflammation and coughing. If they have a bacterial infection, antibiotics may help shorten the course of the disease. In the unlikely event your dog develops pneumonia, they will need to be hospitalised for more intensive treatment.

It’s a good idea to discuss costs with your vet before you start treatment.

How do I protect my dog from kennel cough?

There is a vaccination for kennel cough – your vet can advise you on this. Even after being vaccinated, your dog may still catch kennel cough – but usually a less severe form than they would have otherwise.

Most boarding kennels require a kennel cough vaccine before accepting your dog.

How do I avoid kennel cough spreading?

To prevent the spread of the disease, dogs with kennel cough should be isolated until they’re better and no longer contagious.

If you’re thinking of adopting a dog with kennel cough

Make sure you review the clinical history of your new dog and ask for more details on how the kennel cough was treated. You’ll need to sign a disclaimer to confirm you’ve been made aware of the condition. Any dog who’s had kennel cough is likely to have pet insurance exclusions, so it’s worth discussing potential on-going costs with your vet.

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