What to do if your dog or puppy has kennel cough?

When your pet falls ill, it can be extremely distressing. We humans have a routine for caring for our sick, even children; hot soup, bed rest, some cough and cold medicine from the local drug store. The afflictions which befall our pets, however, are often unfamiliar and alarming.

After all, there’s no where else for our four-legged friends to turn to in times of infirmity. So when your faithful family hound catches kennel cough, you may find yourself swimming in strange waters. Guarding against and treating canine respiratory infections is a part of every dog lover’s life, and having the right information will see you both through this trying time.

Also known as canine tracheobronchitis, kennel cough refers to a highly contagious class of viral and bacterial ailments which spreads rapidly among dogs in close quarters, such as in a pet store or veterinarian. Both viral and bacterial agents play a role in the complex, much as in human bronchitis, making the syndrome difficult to diagnose.

Therefore, if you feel your companion is showing symptoms, consult your veterinarian by telephone rather than visiting the office, as this could not only expose your pet’s weakened immune system to further infection, it might bring the epidemic to the other dogs in the waiting room.

The best protection against kennel cough is prevention. A series of vaccines have been developed to guard against the various microorganisms responsible for the disturbing spates of coughing and choking, including the parainfluenza virus and Bordetella.

Once kennel cough has been contracted, the treatment course is much as it is for humans with similar infections. Antibiotics are prescribed if bacterial causes are determined, as well as a week or so of naptime in a freshly scrubbed room away from other dogs.

Viral infections generally ease in that time if no additional infection occurs. Untreated cases may degenerate into pneumonia, so it is important to keep the environment as free of contaminants as possible.

Nearly all dogs will come down with kennel cough at some point in their lives. Fortunately, with awareness, treatment, and love, recovery can be quick, and you and your pet can move on with life as usual.