Doggy daycare, like regular daycare, can be a cesspool of different germs and infections. If your dog comes home from daycare with a strange cough, your dog might have contracted kennel cough. Kennel cough can be caused by a variety of different viruses and bacteria. Kennel cough is caused by a dog inhaling bacteria or viruses into their upper respiratory tract. Symptoms can be worsened if their lungs are already overworked by cold air, cigarette smoke, stress, or crowded quarters with poor ventilation.
The respiratory tract is usually lined with mucus which helps trap particles that might cause infections which is why kennel cough is often caused by multiple different pathogens – one weakens the mucus in the lungs allowing the other to take root and cause infection. Kennel cough is extremely contagious and spreads around the environment where other dogs inhale the pathogen and become sick. Kennel cough is difficult to control since it is airborne. The main symptom of kennel cough is a cough that sounds like a goose honk. Some dogs will only experience coughing with kennel cough while others may have other symptoms such as sneezing, a runny nose, or eye discharge.
Severe symptoms may include retching, lethargy, and fever. Usually kennel cough lasts for three to four weeks with the worst symptoms in the first five days and dwindling over time. Young puppies and older dogs with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to kennel cough and can take up to six weeks to recover. Stress and environmental factors like temperature, dry climate, and airborne irritants like smoke can increase the severity of prevalent symptoms.
Vaccines for kennel cough are extremely important as they can reduce the odds of getting it or reduce the symptoms. While the vaccine is not 100% effective, it can greatly reduce the odds of your dog contracting the illness if they is frequently in conditions that tend to spread the disease, such as daycare. The vaccine is typically offered in oral, intranasal, and injected forms. The biggest mistake believed by some is that kennel cough is a minor issue that doesn’t call for a trip to the vet. While it may seem like a minor problem, kennel cough can lead to pneumonia or death, especially in dogs that already have weakened immune system.
It’s better to be safe than sorry and take your dog to the vet at the first signs of kennel cough, rather than waiting for the issue to progress. Your vet will be able to tell you how severe of a treatment needed to help your pets kennel cough. A mild cough may only need rest and a cough suppressant while severe kennel cough may require antibiotics or supportive care. Coughing is not only indicative of kennel cough; it may also indicate major health issues such as a collapsing trachea, canine distemper, canine influenza, bronchitis, asthma, or even heart disease. It is always best to err on the side of caution and bring your dog to the vet at any sign of coughing.
There are several home remedies that may help soothe your pet’s symptoms and reduce discomfort. Create a humid environment by using a humidifier or turning on a hot shower and putting your dog in the bathroom with the steam. Some dog owners have found that a small amount of honey daily can help a dog’s throat. Honey has natural antimicrobial and anti fungal agents that can reduce inflammation and soothe sore throats. Thus, reducing coughing while helping your pup fight off infection. Simply give your dog a spoonful of raw honey a few times a day. As always, be sure to check with your vet before introducing human food into your dog’s diet. Another option to consider is CBD oil. It is natural found in hemp plants and highly regarded for its health benefits. The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD oil can ease pain and swelling, restoring comfort.
Kennel cough is not a common cold. It is best to visit your veterinarian right away to learn of the best treatment path. As always, feel free to contact Dr. Olsen at 618-656-5868 with any questions or to set up an appointment.