Kennel Cough in Puppies: A Helpful Guide

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Known to the medical world as canine infectious tracheobronchitis, Kennel Cough is a respiratory disease that can affect a huge number of pups. Highly contagious, the disease is commonly spread when dogs interact with other dogs (hence the “Kennel”) and results in a hacking, choking cough that sounds terrible but is rarely a serious condition.  

How Puppies Catch Kennel Cough

Akin to the common cold in humans, multiple different viruses and bacterium can be the underlying cause of Kennel Cough. The most prevalent of these agents are the Parainfluenza virus, Bordetella bacteria, Mycoplasma and Canine herpes virus.

If a dog inhales one of these virus particles or bacteria their respiratory tract comes under attack and becomes infected. Spread from dog to dog through breath and contact, Kennel Cough is easiest to spread and to catch when a large number of dogs share the same space for long periods of time. Much like any other virus.  

Symptoms of Kennel Cough in Puppies

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Kennel Cough manifests itself as an inflammation of the larynx (voice box) and will cause choking, gagging, and coughing in puppies. Some dogs will seem to be suffering from a cold or allergies: a runny nose and eyes, sneezing, and sniffling are the order of the day.

Loss of appetite and energy are fairly common symptoms as well. Most of all, the powerful and persistent cough should be a dead giveaway. Left untreated, Kennel Cough usually clears itself up after three to four weeks in puppies and younger dogs but may last double that time in older canines. However, there is a chance that an unchecked, persistent cough can lead to pneumonia.

Prevention of Puppy Kennel Cough

Most owners want their furry friend to play with other pooches. After all, a well-socialized dog is a happy dog, but it is always good to keep in mind the risk of Kennel Cough on your puppy’s playdates. In the same way you would avoid contact with a coworker suffering from a cold, try keeping your pooch away from dogs that display any of the symptoms listed above.

Quick conversations with fellow dog owners can set your mind at ease at the puppy park, and, if you have to kennel your dog for a spell, well-ventilated, clean facilities are your best bet to prevent contraction of Kennel Cough.

Vaccination is also a good way to prevent Kennel Cough infections. Available in shot, nasal spray and pill form, these vaccines are not necessarily foolproof as many different forms of bacteria and viral agents can cause Kennel Cough.

How to Treat Kennel Cough in Puppies

If your dog is suffering from a persistent cough, low energy, or low appetite it is always a good idea to take him to the vet. If you suspect it’s Kennel Cough, tell your vet before coming in so they may make arrangements to keep your dog separate from other canine patients. Once your pooch has been diagnosed, veterinarians often recommend that you isolate your dog from contact with all other puppies.

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Kennel Cough is incredibly contagious and can be spread from dog to dog even in the briefest moment of contact. In multiple dog households, isolation can be difficult or even impossible, so you may have to resign yourself to having more than one sick pup on your hands.

Often enough, your dog will just have to suffer through a few weeks of coughing before the body overwhelms the disease on its own. Sometimes, however, if the infection is deemed to be bacterial rather than viral, veterinarians may prescribe antibiotics for your dog.

Home treatment options are similar to those you’d administer to a sufferer of the common cold. Giving your dog a steam shower will help loosen the mucus in his chest and relieve his cough. Ensuring your pup gets some good rest is also essential, as the body needs to spend its energy fighting the disease rather than rough housing.

Even the tried and true remedy of warm water, lemon and honey can soothe their troubled throats. There may also be merit in switching from a collar to a harness while your dog is suffering from Kennel Cough, just in case they pull too hard on their leash and aggravate the throat even more.

At the end of the day, Kennel Cough may be an unavoidable affliction if your pup is popular with other pooches. All you can do is try to make your puppy comfortable, seek professional medical advice and, more often than not, just wait it out.

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