How to treat kennel cough

Kennel cough is particularly common around this time of year, as staying in environments such as kennels can cause the disease to spread. At its best, kennel cough can be an annoyance for your dog but at its worst – kennel cough can be fatal. Let’s take a closer look at kennel cough and at ways to treat it to ensure it doesn’t develop into something more serious, like pneumonia.

What is kennel cough?

Kennel cough is a form of infectious bronchitis that is similar to a chest infection in humans. There are multiple types of viruses and bacteria that can cause the condition, which means its severity can vary too.

It’s a highly contagious infection that spreads through the air, displaying as a slightly high temperature and a repetitive hacking cough that may worsen when your dog is excited or exercising. The coughing noise can often be mistaken for a choking fit, sneezing, retching or gasping for breath, but is often followed by coughing up white froth which is a tell-tale sign.

In a healthy dog, kennel cough will resolve itself naturally within a few weeks, but if your dog is weak, young, or old, it can cause further problems if not treated with care.

Things to avoid once your dog has kennel cough:

Don’t exacerbate the condition - Avoid getting your dog too excited and don’t go for long bouts of exercise, particularly in cold morning air.

Make sure your home is well ventilated - Any humid or warm conditions can prolong the illness and add further irritation to the windpipe.

Harnesses are a better choice for walks - Avoid using a collar and lead, as any pulling around the neck might aggravate the cough.

Avoid contact with other dogs - Due to the highly contagious nature of the infection, it’s important to avoid other dogs during this time. Change areas you walk to avoid dogs if necessary.

What to do at the vets - If you visit the vet, be sure to either leave your dog in a well-ventilated car or wait outside until the vet calls your name to avoid spreading the illness around the waiting room.

Vet treatment to expect:

Most healthy dogs will recover from kennel cough without any intervention. Your vet may however prescribe antibiotics to kill the Bordetella bacteria if they deem it necessary.

Cough suppressants and anti-inflammatories can also be given to make your pet a bit more comfortable as they make their natural recovery in anything from 2 days to 6 weeks.

How to avoid kennel cough:

Vaccinations are the best way to protect your dog from the infection.

You can vaccinate your dog against bordatella bronchiseptica – the most common bacteria that causes kennel cough. The vaccine doesn’t guarantee full protection, as there are many other viruses and bacteria that can cause the condition.

Your dog’s routine vaccinations also cover some of the other bacteria that cause kennel cough.

Not only does vaccinating your dog protect it from getting sick, but it also helps to prevent the spread of kennel cough too.

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