OH No, Not the Cough!!! Kennel Cough and Your Dog

Oh no, your dog is suddenly coughing and sneezing!  The infamous kennel cough or canine cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease that your dog can get from a virus or bacteria.  It can cause inflammation and irritation in your dog’s throat and lungs.

Similar to how we catch a cold when we are in an environment where someone has been sneezing and coughing, your dog can catch kennel cough the same way.  He can also catch it from direct contact with something another dog was touching or mouthing at another dog in play.

While it’s extremely rare for kennel cough to be life threating, you will want to do all you can to guard against it.  Your dog is especially at risk if he frequents places where other dogs go, such as doggie daycare, boarding, training classes, or dog parks.

The vaccine your vet will give your dog as a preventative for kennel cough is Bordetella.  It’s given either through the nose or an injection. The vaccine lasts a year, but the parainfluenza part takes about 3 weeks to be effective.  You’ll want to make sure you plan accordingly if your dog is going to be visiting boarding or daycare.  Many facilities require the Bordetella vaccine every 6 months, so be sure to check with your particular facility.  The frequency of how often Bordetella is given is really based on your dog’s lifestyle.  If he goes to boarding or daycare regularly, every 6 months is recommended.

The incubation period for kennel cough is anywhere from 3-10 days after exposure.  Someone else’s dog might have the virus and not yet be showing symptoms and then that dog passes it to your dog.  That’s why vaccinating is so important.

It’s also important to understand there are many different strands of the virus which means your dog might receive a vaccine and still get sick, just like how we can have a flu shot and still get the flu.

When choosing a doggy daycare or boarding facility it’s important to understand how important the ventilation system plays into your dog’s health.  Choose a facility with a good HVAC system, which greatly enhances the circulation of the building, keeping the air moving helps with preventing kennel cough and other viral infections.

Changing cleaning products on a regular rotation basis also helps to combat the virus so the environment does not grow to accustomed to one product.  Make sure the  facility is cleaned twice a day and the yards are power washed to help insure your dog gets a fresh environment, free from anything that could harm him.

If despite taking all the preventative measures, your dog still comes down with the cough, don’t despair. It’s easily treated with antibiotics from your vet and your dog will be better and back to his social lifestyle soon. To soothe his throat, you might also want to consider essential oils used in a cold air diffuser.  Eucalyptus Radiata is very gentle and could be helpful to your dog. Be sure to keep your dog at home and away from other dogs so the virus does not spread and also advise your doggy daycare if your dog has been a recent guest.  That way they can make sure to do a deep clean of the environment to help insure the safety of other guests and stop the spread.