First Aid for animals
- Kennel Cough
What is kennel cough?
Kennel cough is a highly contagious airway infection that causes a dry hacking cough in dogs. Similar to human colds, kennel cough can be caused by a number of different germs (viruses and bacteria). It’s most common in areas where lots of different dogs gather (such as kennels, dog shows and doggy day care) and can survive in the environment for several weeks. Kennel cough spreads by direct contact between dogs, in the air and on surfaces (such as food bowls and leads).
A hacking cough is the most common symptom of kennel cough, but in more severe cases, it can cause symptoms such as a high temperature or a reduced appetite.
It can take 3-14 days to develop and then last for 1-3 weeks. Most dogs develop a hacking cough and stay otherwise quite well, but puppies, older dogs, and poorly dogs can develop more serious symptoms..
When to contact your vet:
There are many different conditions that can cause coughing so it’s a good idea to have your dog checked by your vet if they have a severe cough or have been coughing for more than a few days.
When visiting your vet, make them aware that your dog is coughing and you suspect kennel cough as it will help the vet keep you isolated from other dogs and likely to wait outside until you are called.
Treating kennel cough:
Most dogs with kennel cough can be treated at home and recover within 1-3 weeks.
Your vet may recommend:
Anti-inflammatories - to reduce airway inflammation and bring down a high temperature.
Antibiotics - only in specific existing medical conditions will antibiotics be prescribed, as viruses do not respond to antibiotics.
Caring for a dog with kennel cough:
Rest. Exercise can make the cough worse.
Sometimes sitting in a steamy room can help, possibly while someone else is having a bath or shower.
Never leave a dog unsupervised in a steamy room.
How to prevent kennel cough:
If your dog spends lots of time with other dogs or goes into kennels, there is always the risk of kennel cough.
You may want to discuss vaccination with your vet, but it will not stop your dog getting it, although it may help you get a less severe bought of it.
Note: Dogs with kennel cough should be kept away from other dogs and public spaces while they are coughing, and for two to three weeks after all symptoms have cleared away.