Kennel Cough treatment
March 14, 2019
What is Kennel Cough?
Infectious tracheobronchitis (Kennel cough) is a highly contagious respiratory disease characterized with inflammation of the upper respiratory tract. It can affect the entire respiratory system and if left untreated the condition may develop into pneumonia. It's called "kennel cough" because it is within kennels where the virus commonly spreads. This is why it is vitally important to always make sure you are bringing home a healthy and happy dog.
Kennel Cough is much more than your average human cough, it can be life-threatening for some dogs, therefore it is essential for you to get them treatment as quickly as possible. Leaving it to get better is gambling with your pet’s health.
The main sign of the condition is a dry, sharp, drowning and prolonged cough.
Causes for infectious tracheobronchitis
Causing the infection can be many different forms of virus and bacteria, but the most frequent in dog’s studied for the disease are Bordetella bronchiseptica and canine virus parainfluetsa (CPi). Other causes are canine adenovirus type 1 and 2, Mycoplasma sp., Reovirus, and canine herpes virus.
Typical clinical cases most frequently isolated Bordetella bronchiseptica, the incubation period with this strain of bacteria is 3-4 days, while the clinical treatment takes about 10 days if there is no involvement of other microorganisms.
The transmission of the bacterium into the environment continues 6-14 weeks after recovery and makes contamination of other susceptible animals possible during this time. This is why it is vitally important to keep any dog with kennel cough away from other animals. It is also the reason why so many dogs tend to end up suffering from kennel cough in kennels!
The virus of canine parainfluenza (CPi) may be part of the syndrome "kennel cough" and is the second most common pathogen after Bordetella bronchiseptica. Itself the virus usually causes a relatively mild sickness with ongoing cough that sometimes occurs after tracheal palpation, and in some cases a clear watery discharge from the nose can be observed.
Often Bordetella bronchiseptica and parainfluenza (CPi) appear together during epidemics of infectious tracheobronchitis, thus creating a more severe disease that can last for several weeks.
"Kennel cough" is an airborne infection. The main route of the disease is by inhaling infected droplets in the air when sharing food containers. However, dogs can pick up Kennel Cough in a variety of different ways, including being near clothes which are carrying the virus. Poor ventilation in homes, veterinary clinics and dog hotels and shelters can contribute to the transfer of the causes of this disease. Short-term contact with dogs releasing pathogens in parks or on the street during the summer months are sufficient for the transmission of this highly contagious disease.
The clinical signs and symptoms of Kennel Cough are fairly easy to spot, as there aren’t too many other ailments your pet can suffer from which exhibit the same symptoms.
Symptoms commonly include: A aharp, dry, hacking cough, nausea, sneezing, or puffing.
These symptoms can be triggered in response to a slight compression of the trachea after an emotional excitement or exercise. Dog owners describe the cough to sound similar to the cry of the wild goose. It may sound very similar to a sound your dog would make if they had a bone stuck in their throat. However, be mindful that these symptoms may be only seen with severe cases. In mild cases, dogs continue to eat, remain vital and active. Sometimes, in very severe cases, the symptoms may progress and include lethargy, fever, lack of appetite, pneumonia and, in severe cases even death. These cases usually develop in immunocompromised animals or in very young unvaccinated puppies.
There may now be a trend that is telling pet owners not to immunise their dogs, but you are only risking the health of your dog not keeping up to date with vaccinations!
The diagnosis your vet makes will be based on typical clinical signs and history that reveals prior contact with other dogs or dog staying in a hotel or shelter. Some veterinarians can carry out inoculating a bacterial culture, virus isolation and serology to confirm the involvement of the different causes of the disease, but because of the characteristic manifestation of clinical signs is not applied very often.
Usually antibiotics are the best way to treat bacterial infections. However, in light (uncomplicated) forms of the disease, antibiotics are not necessary. Treating mild cases shortens the time during which the animal will be potential vectors of the disease. In moderate and severe cases can be applied corticosteroids to help reduce the cough and feel the dog more comfortable.
In severe and complicated cases where animals do not eat, they have a fever or show signs of pneumonia, antibiotics are a must. In these cases, steroids and drugs and cough suppressants are not recommended because of the risk of immunosuppression.
Vaccination and prevention
Vaccination is the best prevention against canine cough. Intranasal vaccine stimulates local immunity, which significantly reduces the occurrence of severe clinical signs, as well as prevents the spread of the infection. This immunity is not affected by maternal antibodies puppies received with colostrum.
In dog hotels and shelters where infectious tracheobronchitis is a problem, strict hygiene with thorough cleaning and disinfection of cages, food and water is of great importance. Dog hotels and shelters that are indoors should have very good ventilation. Most dog hotels and shelters do not accept dogs without proven vaccination and this must become a rule worldwide.
Risk for humans
Until recently it was thought that there is no risk to human health. However, research has shown that Bordetella bronchiseptica can cause sickness in some people, particularly those with impaired immune systems. Healthy adults do not seem to have risk, but young children and immunocompromised individuals should take precautions and not to come into contact with animals showing symptoms of tracheobronchitis.