Canine Kennel Cough

Kennel Cough, also known as Bordatella or Infectious Tracheobronchitis is a disease in which multiple infectious agents such as viruses and bacteria cause disease of the upper airway in dogs. One of the leading bacteria causes of Kennel Cough is Bordatella bronchiseptica and it is believed there are hundreds of different strains and subtypes of this bacteria.

Transmission is mainly through direct contact with infected animals or the secretions of infection animals. It is most commonly encountered in situations where there is close interaction with other dogs such as boarding and grooming facilities, dog parks or simply by walking your dog and interacting with an infected dog. The incubation period of Kennel Cough in dogs is on average 7 days. This means that after your dog contracts the disease he/she will remain symptom free for roughly 7 days. After successful treatment of the disease, dogs can remain contagious for another 7 days.
In addition, there seems to be seasonal variation with most cases presenting in the late summer and fall.

Symptoms of Kennel Cough include a dry persistent cough, sneezing/wheezing, inappetence, lethargy and sometimes concurrent ocular abnormalities such as conjunctivitis. Often owners will note that exercise or pulling on a leash during infectious will precipitate and aggravate the cough.

There are effective vaccinations for Kennel Cough but must be noted that these vaccines do not necessarily prevent infection, but substantially decrease the clinical symptoms associated with the disease. The vaccination does not protect against all strains of Bordatella and therefore, it is possible for your dog to contract and show symptoms depending on which strain your dog was infected with. There are intranasal and injectable forms of the vaccination with varying durations of immunity (from 4-6 months to 1 year) so it is important to discuss with your veterinarian a proper vaccination schedule.

It is important to mention that there are many different causes of cough in dogs and although it may appear as kennel cough, an examination by a veterinarians is essential in proper diagnosis and therefore treatment. If your dog has been diagnosed with Kennel Cough, your veterinarian may prescribe cough suppressants, antibiotics and in severe cases bronchodilators.