Vet talk: it’s kennel cough season

By Dra. Ana Roxanda Godoy

“Kennel cough” is a term that is used to describe complex infections that cause inflammation of a dog’s voice box and windpipe. It can be caused by both bacteria and viruses and is similar to bronchitis in humans. The main symptom is a dry cough which sounds like “honking” and your dog may cough up white foamy phlegm. Symptoms usually get worse with exercise or when pulling against a collar. Some dogs develop fever and nasal discharge. Kennel cough may clear up on its own, but it is very contagious to other dogs. A dog with kennel cough must be kept isolated, along with its food and water. The illness can spread through the air or by direct contact with another dog or with germs from that dog, even in drinking water.

Treatment is mainly supportive. The dog should be kept warm and dry. Using a vaporizer or letting your dog breathe steamy air in the bathroom can help. It is good to use a halter rather than a collar when walking the dog to avoid pressure on the throat. Your vet may prescribe a cough suppressant or an antimicrobial. The symptoms gradually decrease over a period of about three weeks, but may take longer in elderly or dogs with other illnesses. If your dog shows signs of lethargy, refuses to eat, and is breathing rapidly, you must see the vet immediately. Untreated kennel cough may lead to pneumonia.

Prevention is key. Don’t expose your dog to another dog which has kennel cough. Have your dog vaccinated before any symptoms appear. The Bordetella vaccine is effective in preventing kennel cough in about 70 percent of dogs and is often required by boarding facilities. It takes about two weeks before the vaccination is effective and it lasts for about six months. Some vets prefer to give an annual booster. If you are planning to board your dog or if your dog is regularly exposed to other dogs, it is a good idea to get this vaccination now, before the cold weather comes.

All SPA dogs receive the Bordetella vaccine. That’s the way to protect cuties like Gina, Cooper, Spanky, Suri, Dash and Noodles. Check out our website and with albums of all our cats and dogs available for adoption (biographies, pictures, and videos). Adoption hours are Monday-Saturday, 11am-2pm, Los Pinos 7, phone 152-6124.


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