Kennel cough is a highly contagious respiratory infection commonly found in dogs. It is also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis. It is characterized by a dry hacking cough that mimics an unproductive vomiting/choking. The symptoms are similar to bronchitis and other respiratory infections, therefore, require proper diagnosis by a veterinarian.
Kennel cough can also be a symptom of other diseases such as canine distemper, canine adenovirus, parainfluenza virus, herpes virus among others. It is a common infection animal shelters and boarding kennels. It also mostly affects puppies below the age of 6 months as well as those with low immunity.
Kennel cough is a treatable disease. Depending on the cause various treatment options are available. This includes antibiotics, corticosteroids and in severe cases where affected dogs go of food, fluid therapy.
Various antibiotics have been shown to be effective in treatment. Amoxicillin for kennel cough, however, is a popular drug among veterinarians. It’s broad spectrum meaning it is effective and sensitive to multiple causative bacteria. Antibiotics are normally not effective in treating viral infections. In such situations, corticosteroids are prescribed as well as drugs to ease the cough.
What causes kennel cough?
Kennel cough has various etiologies. These include both bacterial as well as viral pathogens. The most common causative bacterium is Bordetella bronchiseptica. Viral causes include canine adenovirus, canine distemper virus, canine herpes virus, parainfluenza virus and canine reovirus. In some instances, both the virus and bacteria can occur together to cause an infection. It is thought that viral infections lower the immunity predisposing the dog to secondary bacterial infections.
How is it transmitted?
Transmission is through inhaling infected droplets coughed or sneezed out by an infected dog. Infected droplets spread across distances and remain viable in the air for a period of 2 weeks. It can also occur through contact with contaminated floors, leashes, collars, food and water tins or toys that have been in contact with an infected dog. Bordetella bacterium remains infectious on surfaces for a period of 48 hours. Dogs also in close contact with infected dogs can get also get infected. This can occur either through sniffing or kissing each other’s noses.
It’s mode of transmission makes it a common finding in areas where dogs are in close contact. This includes boarding kennels, animal shelters, grooming shelters, training classes among others. If a dog is suspected to be infected, isolation should be instituted to prevent spread and infection of the disease.
Some dogs also act as carriers where they house the causative agents but show no outward symptoms. Infected dogs, on the other hand, continue to shed the infectious agents for a period of 6 to 14 weeks.
Various factors can predispose dogs to kennel cough. These include:
- Existing bacteria or viral infections
- Old age
- Travel induced stress
- Crowded enclosed places
- Cold temperatures or weather
- Exposure to dust
Once inhaled, the bacteria or viruses replicate on the mucous lining of the trachea leading to a lot of irritation. Common signs of infection include:
- A persistent dry hacking cough
- Watery nasal discharge
- Eye discharge
How long does it last?
In normal healthy dogs kennel cough last for approximately 3 to 4 weeks. In senior dogs, puppies or immunocompromised dogs, symptoms may last up to 6 weeks.
Can amoxicillin be used to treat kennel cough?
Amoxicillin is a broad spectrum antibiotic used in treatment of various bacterial infections in dogs. Clavamox a combination of amoxicillin and clavulanic acid is effective in treating kennel cough. It is especially effective if caused by the bacterium Bordetella bronchiseptica. Clavulanic acid potentiates amoxicillin by deactivating enzymes produced by a certain bacterium which cause degradation of amoxicillin in the blood stream. Amoxicillin in itself can survive an acidic environment e.g. the stomach as is easily absorbable into the blood stream.
Other antibiotics effective in treatment of kennel cough are baytril and doxycycline.
What are the side effects of amoxicillin?
Common side effects include:
- Loss of appetite
- Swelling of the lips, face or tongue
- Increased body temperature
- Nausea and vomiting
- Labored breathing
- Skin rashes and redness
These usually last for a day or two. If symptoms persist a veterinarian should be consulted as soon as possible.
Natural remedies for kennel cough?
- Organic coconut oil contains anti viral, anti bacterial properties as well as fatty acids which help to boost immunity.
- Including raw honey in your dog’s diet helps to relieve sore throat. It also contains antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Aconite is also effective in treatment especially if used during the early stages of kennel cough.
- Probiotics also help to boost immunity which can prevent kennel cough from progressing to pneumonia.
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Kennel cough is a highly contagious disease among canines. It is however treatable with a good prognosis. Kennel cough is caused by both bacterial and viral microorganisms. They can at times occur together with viral infections predisposing the dog to the bacterial infection. The most common causative bacterium is known as Bordetella bronchiseptica.
It is spread through inhaling infected droplets coughed out by infected dogs. Contact with contaminated surfaces as well as infected dogs can also lead to infection.
Kennel cough spreads quickly in poor ventilated crowded spaces such as boarding kennels, animal shelters, grooming parlors among others.
Common symptoms of infection are a persistent constant dry hacking cough that mimics choking. Nasal discharge, lethargy, fever are also common. The disease, however, does not affect the dog’s appetite in most instances.
Kennel Cough Treatment usually entails an antibiotic prescription from a veterinarian. Clavamox is effective in treatment though not to viral causes of infection. This drug has side effects such as itching, nausea, labored breathing among others. They usually wear off within 48 hours but if persistent a veterinarian should be contacted.
Recovery occurs between 3 to 4 weeks though can extend to 6 weeks in immunocompromised dogs, puppies and seniors.