Where Can Dogs Get Kennel Cough?
Although it is nicknamed “kennel cough,” dogs can contract this respiratory condition in any area where multiple dogs come together (particularly if an area has poor ventilation.) So where can dogs contract kennel cough in particular? Think of boarding kennels, doggy daycares, dog shows, dog parks, training groups, and even veterinary clinics.
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What Is Kennel Cough?
Kennel cough (or as vets call it: “canine infectious tracheobronchitis”) is an upper respiratory disease that is extremely contagious.
How Is Kennel Cough Spread?
Kennel cough spreads through respiratory droplets, direct contact with a dog carrying the disease, or direct contact with a contaminated surface like a communal water bowl or toy.
If we were to compare kennel cough in dogs to human disease, it would be comparable to pertussis or whooping cough.
What Causes Kennel Cough?
Kennel cough is caused by swelling and irritation of the trachea due to viral infection of the upper respiratory tract.
There are numerous bacteria that can infect the respiratory tract and cause kennel cough including:
The most common of these infectious bacteria in kennel cough is Bordetella bronchiseptica. Its common nature is why kennel cough is sometimes referred to as Bordetella.
How Does A Dog Get Kennel Cough?
As we mentioned earlier, kennel cough is highly contagious.
When a dog with kennel cough is boarded in a boarding facility, waits in a veterinary clinic, goes to a group training class, goes to doggy daycare, or comes into contact with a communal surface, the bacteria that caused their kennel cough is spread through their respiratory droplets.
Respiratory droplets are released when a dog touches something with their nose, mouths something licks something, bites something, coughs, sneezes, etc.
Once an infected dog releases bacteria-infected respiratory droplets, those droplets come to rest on communal items and surfaces or are breathed in by other dogs in the immediate area.
A dog that is not infected with kennel cough that ingests these infected respiratory droplets will begin to show symptoms of disease within approximately three days.
Unfortunately, the types of bacteria that cause kennel cough are exceptionally contagious, so once a dog is near an infected dog, the chances are that they will become infected themselves.
What Are The Symptoms Of Kennel Cough?
Symptoms of kennel cough include
- A unique honking cough
- Runny nose
- Energy loss
- Appetite loss
The most significant of these symptoms is the cough.
How Is Kennel Cough Treated?
In healthy dogs, kennel cough will usually run its course with a week to two weeks of rest (exercise and excitement will aggravate the cough.) In some instances, a dog will be prescribed a cough suppressant and antibiotics to ease the cough and prevent any secondary infection.
For healthy adult dogs, kennel cough will generally have mild symptoms and be more irritating for your dog than anything else.
In young puppies, senior dogs, or dogs with existing medical concerns, kennel cough can be much more dangerous.
Puppies do not yet have a fully developed immune system and are more susceptible to infection and more likely to experience severe symptoms. Additionally, because of their smaller size, any disease will take a more significant toll on a puppy’s body.
Senior dogs are often weaker and have a less robust immune system to fight off infection. This lower level of protection means that senior dogs are more prone to infection and severe symptoms.
Lastly, dogs with pre-existing conditions struggle with increased rates of infection and more severe infection due to a less robust immune system. This group of dogs also has an immune system that is taxed, to begin with, so adding more to the “load” results in a much weaker dog.
When dogs develop severe infection and do not receive immediate veterinary attention, the infection may progress to pneumonia and eventually be fatal.
But Why Is It Called “Kennel Cough”?
If a dog can contract kennel cough in other environments why is it called kennel cough?
As contagious as this disease is, kennel cough is most often seen in boarding kennels because dogs spend extended periods there with many other dogs and the ventilation in boarding kennels is not always ideal.
So, while this disease is seen elsewhere, it is named kennel cough because this is where it is most likely to occur.