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Kennel Cough--Misleading

It is important not to blame kennel cough just on kennels

What Is Canine Cough Syndrome?

Canine Cough Syndrome (also called Infectious Tracheobronchitis or Kennel. Cough) is a highly contagious respiratory disease of dogs.

Is Canine Cough Syndrome Common?

Yes. Canine Cough is common in the dog population world-wide.

What Causes Canine Cough Syndrome?

Canine Cough is caused by certain viruses and bacteria working alone or in combination. The most important of these is a bacteria named Bordetella bronchiseptica.

What Are The Symptoms Of Canine Cough?

A dry, hacking cough is the most common sign. Dogs with this disease will often have coughing spells followed by hanging their head over and making a gagging or retching sound from their throat. In fact, many clients suspect that the dog has something lodged in their throat when it turns out to be Canine Cough. Sometimes the coughing can lead to nausea. Fever, malaise, and loss of appetite are uncommon symptoms with Canine Cough but are sometimes seen.

How Long Does The Typical Case Of Canine Cough Last?

This can vary greatly but usually the clinical signs continue for several days but can persist for up to several weeks in some cases.

How Serious Is Canine Cough Syndrome?

In most cases this is a mild disease. The clinical signs should be treated, however, because not only is the persistent cough distressing to both the dog and the owner, but it can also lead to permanent damage to the respiratory tract in some cases if allowed to progress unchecked. Canine Cough can also progress to pneumonia in some cases if left untreated.

How Is Canine Cough Syndrome Diagnosed?

Physical exam, history, and appropriate lab tests are used.

How Is Canine Cough Syndrome Treated?

Treatment consists of medications to reduce secondary bacterial infection (antibiotics), medications to reduce inflammation, and medications to suppress the cough.

Can My Dog Catch Canine Cough If He's Hot Been In A Boarding Kennel?

The germs which cause this disease are extremely infectious and while the dog in the boarding kennel situation is most at risk, many cases of dogs contracting Canine Cough who were never out of their own backyard. This disease is aerosolized (meaning to be spread by coughed droplets in the wind) by coughing and a dog can sometimes become exposed from germs spread by a dog who is some distance away. Also many dogs will carry some of these bacteria and viruses normally in their respiratory tract and can become ill from Canine Cough during periods of stress when these "bad guys" take over.

Isn't My Dog Fully Protected Against Canine Cough By His Yearly 7-Way Vaccination?

No. Its true that the regular Distemper/Parvo 7-way vaccination does protect against two of the viruses that can cause Canine Cough (Parainfluenza virus and Adenovirus type II) but it does not contain protection against Bordetella bronchiseptica which is the most threatening of the infectious agents which cause Canine Cough.

Is There A Vaccination For Bordetella?

Yes. An intranasal vaccination (meaning to squirt some up each nostril) is used to protect against Bordetella or your veterinarian may prefer the injectable vaccine. The vaccine also usually includes protection against Parainfluenza.

What Is The Recommended ended Protocol For The Bordetella Vaccination?

This will vary from region to region so what I'm describing here is simply an example of a Bordetella vaccination program and may not be what your veterinarian recommends. You can usually give an intranasal dose at least one week prior to boarding or exposure to Canine Cough situations (exposure to other dogs). Boosters are recommended yearly if the dog is not being boarded or to be current within the last 6 months prior to boarding.

Why Is The Vaccine Given Intranasally?

Research has shown that most of the immunity toward Bordetella is localized in the upper respiratory passages. Our intranasal vaccine is superior in boosting this localized immunity.

Which Dog's Should Receive The Bordetella (Canine Cough) Vaccine?

To a large extent this is an individual owner's decision. If your dog is going to be boarded in a kennel, exposed to unfamiliar dogs or traveling, then the Bordetella vaccination is highly recommended. If your dog is not going to be in these situations then the risk of exposure is lower. Many pet owners do include this as part of their dog's general preventive health program and this is a wise choice.

Do Most Bording Facilities Require Bordetella Vaccination For All Dogs Prior To Boarding?


Is It Possible For My Dog To Get Canine Cough Syndrome Even If He's Vaccinated?

Yes it is possible to catch Canine Cough anyway but the chances are much less with vaccination and the severity of illness is greatly reduced if the dog with Canine Cough has received prior vaccination.

Why Is The Vaccination Not A 100% Guarantee Against Getting Canine Cough?

Because (as mentioned before) Canine Cough is often caused by several. viruses and bacteria; only 3 of which ( Bordetella Parainfluenza and Adeno type II) it is possible to vaccinate against.

How Can I Learn More About Canine Cough?

Call your local veterinarian and they'll be glad to tell you more.

To many, the term kennel cough means that this disease can only be contracted from a kennel. This is not so. Your Maltese can pick up the disease from any place where there are many dogs, but they can also get it from exposure to just a single infected animal. Kennel cough often occurs following exposure at these most likely places:

  1. A kennel
  2. Your groomers
  3. A show
  4. Veterinarians or clinic
  5. Congregation of other dogs

Kennel cough is a highly contagious disease affecting the respiratory system of dogs. It is influenced by various environmental factors, usually produced by a combination of bacterial and viral agents.

Supplying your dog's veterinarian with an accurate history (vaccination status, recent stress, and especially recent activities) is essential in the diagnosis of kennel cough.

The major sign of kennel cough is a spontaneous, dry, hacking cough that is easily induced. For example, simply walking the dog on a leash may cause a sudden fit of coughing. Owners may suspect that the dog has something caught in its throat, or that it is trying to vomit. You should observe your Maltese carefully so you may accurately report to your veterinarian how your dog is acting and what his symptoms are.

Most cases of canine kennel cough will spontaneously resolve in 10 days to 3 weeks, but owners can make their dogs more comfortable by minimizing the coughing with a cough suppressant obtained from their veterinarian. The dog should definitely be seen by the veterinarian if the disease persists longer than 2 weeks or the animal begins to show systemic signs, that is, acts depressed, has a fever, has lost its appetite, is not drinking as much water as normal, or is just plain acting sick.

Generally, 7 to 10 days is required after exposure to an infected animal before a dog develops the characteristic cough. Antibiotics may be prescribed if the disease is systemic, but their usefulness is questionable.

To help prevent this disease rather than trying to deal with it once your Maltese has it would be through the routine use of vaccinations. Viral causes of kennel cough (such as distemper, adenoviruses, and parainfluenza virus), are covered by the "DHLPP" vaccination that all dogs should receive annually. The major bacterial agent associated with the disease, Bordetella Bronchiseptica, may be vaccinated against as well. Another preventative measure would be to have your veterinarian give your Maltese a booster against Bordetella seven to 10 days prior to a show or kenneling, and annual boosters if you feel your Maltese is at high exposure to other dogs.

If you suspect your Maltese of having kennel cough he should be isolated from other dogs so that it cannot transmit the disease to healthy ones. However, since an infected dog will not begin coughing for approximately 7 days after it has picked up the disease, any dogs that come in contact with it during that time may already have picked up the disease and should be observed carefully for any signs of this disease.