Kennel cough, or canine infectious tracheobronchitis, is a highly contagious disease of a dog's respiratory tract caused by a variety of viruses and bacteria. Commonly spread by airbourne droplets from coughing, sneezing or direct nose-to-nose contact, it often occurs following close contact with other dogs or a contaminated environment at boarding kennels, rescue centres, shows, training classes and on walks.
The disease can last for up to 6 weeks and on occasion more serious complications such as pneumonia develop, which may prove fatal in old, weak or very young dogs.
Symptoms include a harsh, dry, whooping-type cough which can cause retching, loss of appetite, raised temperature, tiredness and occasionally, pneumonia.
What causes kennel cough?
Bordetella bronchiseptica (Bb) is the most common and significant underlying cause of kennel cough. However, a variety of viruses and bacteria cause respiratory disease including canine parainfluenza virus, canine adenovirus 1 and 2, canine influenza and canine herpesvirus. Bb can also infect other species including cats and can be a rare risk to immune compromised humans (such as AIDS and chemotherapy patients).
Antibiotics and anti-inflammatories are often used to treat kennel cough, and may alleviate the symptoms. However dogs may still be potentially contagious.
If you think your dog has kennel cough, please contact your vet for advice.
The disease is highly infectious and it is strongly advised to keep infected dogs away from healthy dogs. Ventilation and hygiene are important in reducing the risks of this disease. Vaccination against two important causes of kennel cough (Bordetella bronchiseptica and canine parainfluenza) is an important precaution that should be taken in reducing the risk from this disease. Vaccination is recommended in at risk dogs. Examples of potentially high-risk situations include boarding kennels, dog shows, breeding environments and dog training clubs.