What Is Kennel Cough?
Kennel cough is a fairly common contagious infection of the upper respiratory tract. It is aptly called kennel cough because it often occurs when dogs or cats are crowded together in kennels and shelters, especially if such places are poorly ventilated. Dogs that spend a lot of time enjoying frolicks with other dogs in dog parks may also pick up the infection. Other risk factors include dust, cigarette smoke, cold temperatures, and stressful events such as travel.
What Causes Kennel Cough?
A combination of bacteria and viruses is responsible for kennel cough. While bordatella is the most common bacterial cause, other nasty pathogens may play a role in more complicated cases of kennel cough, including adenovirus, mycoplasma, parainfluenza virus, reovirus, and even distemper virus.
What are the Symptoms?
The most common indication of kennel cough in cats and dogs is an unpleasant-sounding cough – dry hacking or honking noises sometimes followed by retching. Other symptoms may include a runny nose, sneezing, listlessness, and, in more severe cases, lost appetite, depression, and a low fever. The good news is that kennel cough does not typically affect other bodily organs.
What is the Treatment?
Mild cases of kennel cough often clear up in about ten to fourteen days without medication. The infection will run its course – just as with people and the common cold. Mild over-the-counter cough suppressants such as Children’s Mucinex or Temaril-P can help make your pet more comfortable. Keeping pets in a well-humidified area and using a harness instead of a collar when taking Rover for a walk may also help decrease coughing. Pets with more severe infections that don’t go away will need a course of antibiotics.
Which Pet Breeds Get Kennel Cough?
Given the right circumstances, any dog or cat breed of any age can develop kennel cough. Puppies and kittens, particularly those that have spent time in pet stores with other animals, are particularly susceptible. Flat-nosed dog breeds such as pugs, bulldogs, and boxers are also at an increased risk because of the anatomy of their respiratory airways.
Can Humans Catch Kennel Cough From Their Dog or Cat?
The leading culprit in kennel cough is a bacterium called bordatella bronchiseptica that is closely related to the same causative agent of whooping cough in children. Even so, there is minimal risk of humans with affected pets coming down with kennel cough. However, if you have several pets, it’s important to isolate the one with kennel cough so that the infection doesn’t spread to your other animals.
When Should I Take my Pet with a Cough to a Vet?
Be aware that kennel cough symptoms are quite similar to those associated with more serious conditions such as canine and feline influenza and canine and feline distemper. So, if your pet is coughing contact your vet. Call ahead and explain your pet’s symptoms so your vet can take precautions to prevent the spread of any infectious condition to other animal patients. Although a coughing pet does not normally constitute an emergency situation, it should never be ignored.