Kennel Cough – The in’s and out’s

The Kennal Cough season is upon us, I’ve already heard of a few suspected cases starting up in the South Wales area so thought it was time to get this blog out ASAP so people can learn about the in’s and out’s of the big KC.  I wrote this in my former life working for a Doggy Daycare.  Kennel Cough was the stuff of nightmares for those types of set up when trying to control an outbreak.  I hope you find it informative and gives you better insight as to why pet professionals are very strict when it comes to Kennal Cough.

What is Kennel Cough?
Kennel cough or infectious bronchitis at it is technically known, is a respiratory infection commonly caused by a bacteria called Bordetella bronchiseptica and the Parainfluenza virus.  It is effectively the dog equivalent of the common cold or flu.

How is it transmitted?
Despite the name, kennel cough isn’t solely found in kennels, although due to the confinement and nature of kennels, it spreads prolifically there.  Dogs can pick up kennel cough from anywhere.  It is airborne and highly contagious and can be passed on through shared objects like water bowls or toys.  Dogs greeting each other in the park can easily pass the infection on.  As with humans, dogs that are immune-compromised, old or young, are at higher risk of infection and susceptible to complications, such as pneumonia .

Can humans contract Kennel Cough?
This is a bit of a debated topic among scientists.  Due to the bacterial nature of the respiratory infection, it is thought by some that there is the possibility of KC crossing over to humans, but only those with immune-compromised systems or living in low ventilation environments could be susceptible.  If you are at all worried and have a family member who falls under these categories then it might be a precaution to keep any canines with suspected Kennel Cough away.

Can it be prevented?
A few of the infections that can cause kennel cough (canine adenovirus type two, canine parainfluenza virus, canine distemper, and canine influenza) are part of the standard vaccines every dog has from a pup and are required to come to any Rat Pack Dog Services’ services.  This should also be the case for any of the pet service industry, from walking to grooming.

However, the most common bacteria present in kennel cough is Bordetella bronchiseptica.  This is a separate vaccine that is administered either by nasal drops or injection.  As there are many strains of this bacteria, not all are covered by the vaccine and your dog, even vaccinated, can still potentially catch kennel cough, though the symptoms are usually reduced.

This vaccine is not compulsory for attending any of our services but if you choose to vaccinate your dog against kennel cough, you will need to inform us.  Please be aware that some pet services require this extra vaccine, such as boarders and some walkers/daycares.  Due to the vaccine using ‘live’ cultures, your dog can pass it on to others and give them kennel cough.  Once vaccinated, your dog will have to be kept out of our classes for a period of two weeks to prevent any infection.

What are the symptoms?
The most well known and obvious symptom of kennel cough is the persistent honking and retching cough it induces.  Please look at the YouTube videos we have provided below to give you an idea of the sounds of kennel cough.  The distinctive cough is the main symptom exhibited but other symptoms include:

  • A “reverse sneeze” sound, distinctive to a normal cough
  • Sneezing
  • A dripping nose
  • Sore and inflamed throat
  • Inflamed and runny eyes
  • Loss of appetite and reduced energy levels
  • General lethargy

Kennel cough has an incubation period of two to 14 days, and some dogs can be carriers of the infection for months without developing symptoms.  Your dog could have the infection but not show any signs.  This is easily spotted in multidog households where only one dog may be showing the signs, but all dogs still must be isolated incase they are carrying the infection.

Puppy Showing KC signs – You can also view the video here

Brachycephalic breed with KC – You can also view the video here

More KC symptoms – You can also view the video here

Think your dog has Kennel Cough?
Don’t panic!  Contact your vet for advice.  Like the human cold or flu, a dogs immune system can fight against the infection and vets will usually give medication to help fight the infection.  Humidifiers can also help reduce the severity of the coughing.

Please let us know if you suspect your dog has kennel cough and keep us up to date with the prognosis from the vet.  It is important you inform us as soon as possible because you will need to stay away from classes until your dogs has been symptom free for 2 weeks.  We will also need to contact other clients who might have been in contact with your dog to make them aware of possible infection.  If you have already paid for a course, you will be able to make up the missed classes within 3 months of having the all clear from the vet.

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