Vet Blog

What You Need to Know About Kennel Cough

September 01, 2021

As a dog owner, you probably already know a little bit about kennel cough.

This condition affects many dogs and is fairly common in dogs of all ages. However, there's plenty you need to know about kennel cough whether you're new to dog ownership or not, and it's important to brush up on this information to help provide the best possible care for your pet.

In this article, you'll find the basic information you need to know about kennel cough. You can use this information to help recognize when your dog might be sick or figure out how to avoid the risk of kennel cough instead. If you have any questions, call Animal Medical Center of Chandler at (480) 339-0406.

Causes and Risks

Bordetella is the most common cause of kennel cough. Bordetella is a type of bacteria that is spread easily from dog to dog through droplets in the air. Sometimes, kennel cough infections are simply referred to as Bordetella because of how commonly the two are linked with each other.

Kennel cough can be caused by other viruses and bacteria too. Bordetella is the most common cause, but there are other potential causes too. If your dog has a viral kennel cough, they will not be able to take any medication to recover from it and will simply need to wait and let the virus run its course. Your veterinarian can tell you which type of kennel cough your dog has.

Dogs who are kept in boarding facilities are at a greater risk of kennel cough. In these close quarters, dogs may spread kennel cough through droplets in the air that occur when they bark. They may also spread it through shared food and water dishes, shared leashes and toys, and shared bedding. This is why the disease has developed the common name "kennel cough."

Dogs who go to the dog park are also at risk. The dog park may play host to dogs who have kennel cough as well as many other illnesses. If your dog is in contact with a sick dog at the dog park, or if they drink out of the same water dish or share a toy, then the risk may increase.

Dogs of any age can contract kennel cough. However, it may be more likely in puppies and senior dogs simply because of the less powerful immune systems these dogs have.

The most notable symptom of kennel cough is a honking cough. If you hear your dog coughing and making a honking noise, you can generally assume they have a kennel cough. Other types of coughing may not cause this noise, and honking noises are some of the most frequent symptoms associated with a diagnosis of kennel cough in dogs.

Treatment and Management

If your dog is diagnosed with Bordetella as the cause of their kennel cough, they will need to take antibiotics to recover from the illness. A round of antibiotics is usually enough to help otherwise healthy dogs feel better and get back to normal health in no time.

If your dog's kennel cough is caused by another type of bacteria, antibiotics can help in this situation as well. If it is caused by a virus, however, there is no method of treating your dog's condition with medication, so you'll need to follow your vet's advice about helping your dog recover on their own instead.

Many dogs can recover from either bacterial or viral kennel cough by simply resting, drinking plenty of fluids, and waiting a little while. Just like colds in humans, kennel cough often runs its course on its own. If your dog is a healthy adult, you may not need to give them medicine at all for him to feel better.

If your dog is a very young puppy, a senior dog, or a dog with any underlying health problems, your vet may talk with you more about a specific treatment or management solutions. Dogs in these situations may be at a greater risk of developing pneumonia from kennel cough.

Finally, keep in mind that there is a vaccination for Bordetella available for dogs who are at least three months old. This vaccination can prevent your dog from picking up the most common bacterial cause of kennel cough, which can keep them healthier as well.

Now that you've had a chance to learn a little more about kennel cough, you can know when it's time to talk to your vet about this condition. If you think your dog may be dealing with kennel cough or if you know you're going to be using boarding facilities in the near future, it's a good idea to schedule a vet visit.

Additionally, you can ask your veterinarian for information about the kennel cough vaccination. Your vet can help you determine whether or not it's right for your dog. Call us today at (480) 339-0406.