All About Kennel cough

I have written the following article on Kennel Cough, as a helpful guide, however; please remember, when your pets health is in question, never hesitate to contact your licensed veterinarian.


What Are the Symptoms of Kennel Cough?


Kennel Cough is normally characterized by a hacking cough that people describe as, "A cat trying to cough up a hair ball" or as, "Something is stuck in my dog's throat."  Kennel Cough is not contagious to humans, but is contagious to other dogs, depending upon the stress level, vaccination status, and length of exposure of the dog. 



How did my dog become infected?


Kennel cough is highly contagious among dogs and can be spread at such places as dog parks, dog beaches, groomers, boarding kennels, and other common meeting areas.  The incubation period for Kennel Cough usually ranges between 2 – 14 days.


What kind of medical treatment, if any, is necessary?


Although some cases of Kennel cough can go away without medication, recovery can be hastened with the use of an antibiotic such as Clavamox, which directly kills the Bordatella organism.  Alternatively, Kennel Cough may also be treated with cough suppressants to provide comfort during natural recovery.  Sometimes antibiotics and cough suppressants can be combined.


Is there a way to prevent Kennel Cough?


A bordetella vaccine injection is commonly given to dogs to prevent kennel cough.  I put emphasis on the word "prevention" because like the flu shot in humans, the Bordetella vaccine is a prevention - not a cure.    All my puppies receive their first Bordetella vaccination at 8 weeks (before they leave my care) and all my adult dogs receive boosters every 6 months. 


I have read that some people believe that kennel cough is not life threatening, is self-curing, and self-limiting and therefore they do not believe in vaccinating their pets with the Bordetella vaccine.  I, on the other hand, believe in the old saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure."


I have personally seen cases where a simple bout of Kennel Cough left untreated soon developed in to more serious conditions such as upper respiratory infection and in some cases pneumonia.  Both of these conditions are serious, cost hundreds of dollars in medical bills, and caused their owners heartbreak as they watched their beloved pet suffer.


Can I vaccinate my dog myself?


The Bordetella vaccine comes in two forms; a nasal drop and a vaccine that in injected.  The nasal form goes to work faster but diminishes faster.  The injection form goes to work slower but also diminishes slower.   


If you are thinking about vaccinating your dog yourself, but you are squeamish about needles or not skilled at giving injections, you can purchase the nasal form of Bordetella at several online pet medication websites.  The treatment comes in two parts – part one is sterile water that is mixed with the dry Bordetella vaccine (the second part).  Once the two parts are mixed together,  the solution is squirted into one nostril of your dog (no need to do both nostrils) and that's it.  Don't be surprised if your dog sneezes some of it out, this is normal, and is anticipated therefore treatment quantity is a little more than is actually needed.