Has your dog been coughing or making noises that make you think that he or she is choking on something?
Intense coughing is one of the warning signs of kennel cough – a common condition for many pets – especially those that came in contact with the disease from an infected dog. While most kennels and boarding facilities are very clean and require proper vaccines before accepting pets, it is oftentimes contracted from exposure at kennels or shelters, cold weather, travel-induced stress or exposure to dust or smoke.
If your pet becomes infected with this respiratory disease, as long as you seek treatment in a timely manner, it’s nothing to worry about. In fact, most dogs will contract the disease at some point in their lives, especially if they frequent highly populated canine areas.
As mentioned above, intense, forceful coughing is the most common symptom of kennel cough (also known as Bordatellosis or Bordatella). However, don’t confuse this cough with that of just having something caught in the throat or irritation. This cough will be deep and persistent – oftentimes stopping your pet in his tracks. Sometimes, this cough can be combined with cold-like symptoms such as running nose, sneezing and or eye watering/discharge. If you dog displays the above warning signs, it’s best to schedule an appointment right away to avoid further discomfort.
Kennel cough is very treatable, but it’s also very contagious to other dogs, which is why it’s associated with kennels and other areas with a high population of dogs. After scheduling an appointment with your veterinarian, it’s best to quarantine your dog away from other neighborhood or household dogs to keep from spreading the virus until you have confirmation from your vet. If your pet turns out to have kennel cough, your vet will most likely prescribe antibiotics that target the virus as well as cough medicine to reduce the uncomfortable symptoms while they heal. The healing process takes around three weeks to reach a complete recovery, but most pets start feeling better after about 48 hours on medication.
When left untreated, kennel cough can be both extremely uncomfortable and dangerous for pets. To reduce the chances of your pet obtaining or spreading the virus, it’s best to vaccinate your pet 7-10 days prior to close contact with other pets, such as in a kennel, and maintain annual boosters during yearly visits. We often recommend annual shots and boosters, especially if your pet has consistent contact with other canines.