Kennel Cough is a highly contagious infectious disease of the respiratory tract in dogs.
The disease is caused by two viruses and a bacterium that are spread via the air or direct contact with the nose and/or mouth of an affected dog.
What the disease does:
A combination of Canine Parainfluenza virus, Canine Adenovirus-2 and Bordetella bronchiseptica (a bacterium) often cause clinical signs of Kennel Cough.
Canine Parainfluenza virus damages the upper airways and causes a dry cough and clear nasal discharge.
Canine Adenovirus-2 damages cells in the nose, throat and airways.
Bordetella bronchiseptica paralyzes the hair-like cells in the airways and prevents the immune system from reacting to the infection.
Symptoms can take 3-10 days to appear after contact with the causative agents.
The disease starts off as a sudden dry, hacking cough with retching afterwards. The dog’s appetite and lifestyle are normally not affected.
In some cases the disease can progress to a bronchitis and/or pneumonia which will cause a wet cough, nasal discharge, loss of appetite and lethargy.
In a household with more than one dog, there is a very good chance that all the dogs will get the disease.
A history of possible exposure to the causative agents makes the disease highly likely. A clinical exam is done to confirm the disease.
The disease is often self-limiting and does not need to be treated if the dog is still eating well and playful.
If the cough becomes excessive or wet or a loss of appetite is seen, the disease will have to be treated. A combination of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories are often used.
Kennel Cough can be prevented by vaccination.
The primary vaccination consists of two vaccinations given 3-4 weeks apart.
A booster vaccination is given annually.
Please note that some dogs that have been vaccinated, will still contract the disease if they are exposed to a large amount of the causative agent, but the disease will normally be mild.