Your Dog Coughing All The Time? It Could Be Worse Than A Simple Cold

October 21, 2020

Your Dog Coughing All The Time? It Could Be Worse Than A Simple Cold

If your dog is hacking away or constantly making noises that make it sound like they are choking on something, they may have a case of kennel cough, also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis.

It may sound terrible, as it is a highly contagious disease among dogs. However, if treated properly, most of the time it would not turn into a serious condition, and most dogs will recover soon.

What is Kennel Cough?

Just as human colds may be caused by many different viruses, kennel cough itself can have multiple causes.

They can catch it themselves, by inhaling bacteria or virus particles into their respiratory tract. For example, one of the most common culprits is a bacterium called Bordetella bronchiseptica.

Or, as kennel cough is contagious, they can contract kennel cough from other infected dogs at places where large numbers of dogs congregate, for example, daycare and boarding facilities, dog parks, training centers, dog shows, etc. Infected dogs can also spread it to one another through airborne droplets, direct contact (e.g. touching noses), or contaminated surfaces (e.g. sharing water/food bowls).

Although we probably know that dog’s respiratory tract is normally lined with a coating of mucus that can help trap infectious particles, there are lots of lots of factors that can weaken this protection and make them even prone to infection.

Factors including:

  • Exposure to crowded and/or poorly ventilated conditions
  • Cold temperatures
  • Exposure to dust or cigarette smoke
  • Travel-induced stress

Symptoms of Kennel Cough

The classic symptom of kennel cough is a persistent, forceful cough. It often sounds like a goose honk, which is the most obvious symptom.

Some dogs with kennel cough may show other symptoms of illness, including sneezing, low fever, a runny nose, or eye discharge.

If your dog has kennel cough, they probably will not lose their appetite or have a decreased energy level.

Treating Kennel Cough

Although we mentioned at the beginning that with proper treatment, kennel cough would not turn into a serious condition. For puppies younger than six-month or those are immunocompromised, it could be more severe.

And please remember, as kennel cough is contagious. If you suspect your dog might have the condition, you should keep them away from other animals before the diagnosis of your vet.

Typically, mild cases of kennel cough are treated with a week or two of rest, but a vet may prescribe antibiotics to minimize symptoms, speed recovery and prevent a secondary infection, as ongoing kennel cough infection can lead to pneumonia.

And please make sure to follow up with your vet if your dog doesn’t improve within the expected amount of time.

Kennel Cough Can Be Prevented

A vaccine is available for the bordetella bacterium, which is the most common agent to cause kennel cough. The vaccine is available in oral, intranasal, and injectable forms, and depending on the form, it is usually initially given in two doses two to four weeks apart, followed by a booster every six months to a year.

Although vaccines may help, it does not guarantee protection against kennel cough or infectious tracheobronchitis because it can be caused by so many different kinds of bacteria and viruses. Also, it is important to realize that neither form of the kennel cough vaccination will treat active infections.

You may also find that keeping your dog in a well-humidified area and using a harness instead of a collar, especially for dogs that strain against a leash, will minimize the coughing.