Sunday, October 16, 2011

Kennel cough - What is it and what should I do?

Kennel cough is a highly infectious disease of dogs, spread by infected dogs coughing or sneezing.

It is only very rarely fatal but commonly causes a harsh and distressing hacking cough that frequently ends in a rather undignified retch. Many dog owners become convinced that their dog has ‘something stuck in their throat’. If untreated, Kennel cough typically lasts for 2-3 weeks, but apart from their cough, most dogs do not appear otherwise ill.

Kennel cough can be more serious in dogs that already have respiratory difficulties, such as the very short nosed dogs (eg Pugs or Bulldogs) or older dogs with heart disease or poor immune systems.

It is called kennel cough because it is very easily spread between dogs that are housed together, as they are in kennels. Symptoms start 3-5 days after exposure and dogs can remain infectious for weeks, so affected dogs should be kept away from others until completely clear.

The disease can be caused by a number of different micro-organisms, but the most important of these is a bacteria called Bordatella bronchiseptica. Where this infection occurs alongside a viral infection such as canine parainfluenza, the
symptoms tend to be more severe. Canine distemper virus, adenovirus and coronavirus have also been implicated.

Treatment commonly involves antibiotics for the bacterial infection, sometimes with cough suppressants if there is no increased volume of mucus produced. If a virus is also involved, more non-specific treatments to support the immune system and help your dogs general comfort can help.

Where dogs have a lot of contact with large numbers of other dogs (for example visits to a kennels, day care, communal dog walking, training classes or shows) vaccination in the form of drops up the nose reduces the likelihood of infection and
may reduce the severity of symptoms where infection does occur.

There are many other reasons for a dog to cough, including advanced heart disease, growths, allergies and parasites, so it is important to take your dog to the vet for a thorough examination if any coughing starts.

If you are worried that your dog is coughing, you can always call us on 0207 723 0453 for advice

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