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Kennel cough in dogs

Puppy Siberian Husky lying down on an examination table in a vets office.
Kennel cough, or infectious tracheobronchitis of dogs, is a very contagious respiratory disease. Dogs often contract it when they come into close contact with other dogs in certain environments such as kennels, day care, and dog shows.

What is kennel cough?

Kennel cough is a very contagious respiratory disease that can spread quickly between dogs, especially if they are in close proximity with each other.

What are the symptoms of kennel cough?

The most common sign of kennel cough in dogs is spasms of harsh, dry coughing, which may be followed br retching and gagging. The severity of the cough usually diminishes during the first 5 days, but the disease persists for 10 to 20 days. It can be more or less serious depending on the age and the general health condition of your dog or puppy.

Other symptoms may also include:

  • a runny nose
  • sneezing
  • eye discharge

What causes kennel cough?

Dogs often contract kennel cough when they are in close proximity to other dogs in certain environments such as kennels, day care, and dog shows. It can be passed on if a dog comes into contact with an infected dog or if they share contaminated objects such as food or water bowls.

Can my puppy be vaccinated against kennel cough?

Kennel cough can be prevented with the right vaccination, so it's important to make sure your puppy gets the necessary jabs at the right age.

Your vet will help you choose the vaccination programme best suited for your puppy, depending on any risks they will face from their lifestyle and any different environments they are exposed to as well as any activities they are involved in.

How do I know if my puppy needs the vaccine?

Some vaccinations are mandatory, while others are simply recommended. The kennel cough vaccination is recommended if your puppy or dog will be in close contact with other dogs.

If your puppy is going to be in kennels or taking part in shows, sports or activities where they could be exposed to kennel cough, it’s important to tell your vet so your puppy can be protected well in advance.

Will the vaccination always cover my dog against kennel cough?

With kennel cough, a large number of agents can be involved in the specific disease. The vaccine protects against those agents that are considered to be the most important, but it doesn’t work against all of them.

If your puppy has had the vaccination they can still therefore develop the disease if they come into contact with those different agents against which the vaccine has no effect.

Are there any other ways to prevent my puppy from contracting kennel cough?

When considering a kennel, the first thing you should look for is whether they require all dogs to have the vaccination against kennel cough. You’ll know this through the details you’ll have to provide yourself when applying for a place for your puppy.

If you take your puppy to kennels or day care they should check several specific factors, including their vaccination history. It’s likely that they will insist on your puppy being vaccinated at this point, before they are allowed to stay.

This should ensure the virus does not enter into or spread in the vicinity. If only some of the dogs are vaccinated, the agents of the disease will spread and develop freely within the community. This means the risk of infection increases.

Other questions to ask the kennels or day care include what precautions they take with sick dogs, such as quarantine, and the protocols they have in place for cleaning and disinfection. Ensuring that you are aware of all of the processes in place will help to prevent your puppy from contracting kennel cough.

What should I do if I think my dog is suffering from kennel cough?

The symptoms of kennel cough can be easily identified. If you believe your puppy is presenting any of these symptoms you should consult a vet. They will carry out a number of tests to identify whether your puppy has contracted the condition and be able to recommend the best course of treatment.

To make sure your dog has the best chance of avoiding kennel cough when in close quarters with other dogs, always let your vet know early so they can administer the vaccination within the required time limits. 

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