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What you need to know about Kennel Cough

As summer approaches and people start planning trips away, boarding kennels find themselves filling up fast. Unfortunately, in any place a group of dogs are kept in close contact, their chances of contracting Kennel Cough greatly increases. 

So we've put together several commonly asked questions to help you better understand Kennel Cough and why it's so important to get your dog vaccinated against this infection. 

What is Kennel Cough?

Kennel Cough is the common name given to infectious bronchitis in dogs. Just as in chest infections in humans, a number of different bacteria and viruses can cause the illness – it’s normally a combination of infections.

How would I know my dog has Kennel Cough?

The most obvious symptom of Kennel Cough is a forceful, hacking cough, which will often sound like your dog has something stuck in their throat. In many cases, dogs with Kennel Cough will appear healthy apart from coughing but some dogs will have a runny nose, sneezing or eye discharge.

Is Kennel Cough dangerous or life-threatening?

Kennel Cough is not normally dangerous but in puppies, elderly dogs and those with existing illnesses or poor immunity, the condition can be more serious and can develop into pneumonia. Some strains of the infection can also be more severe.

How can dogs catch Kennel Cough?

Kennel cough is airborne and highly contagious via coughs and sneezes. It is also transmitted with bacteria on toys, food bowls or other shared objects. Dogs can catch the infection from contact with others in the park, at the dog walker’s or when meeting in the street. It spreads rapidly when a lot of dogs come together, for example in boarding kennels, which is where the name comes from.

What should I do if I think my dog has Kennel Cough?

You should always get in touch with a vet if you think your dog is displaying symptoms of Kennel Cough. Please let the clinic know if your dog has been coughing before you arrive, as they may ask you to sit somewhere other than the crowded waiting area. It's always advisable to keep your dog away from other dogs if they have been coughing. 

What can I do to help?

In most cases, dogs will recover from Kennel Cough without treatment within three weeks, but it can sometimes linger for anything up to six weeks. To aid recovery, make sure your home is well ventilated and avoid using a collar and lead, as any pulling might aggravate the wind pipe further – a harness is a better option on walks. 

Is there a treatment for Kennel Cough?

Antibiotics can kill the Bordetella bacteria, the most common bug present in Kennel Cough cases, and may be necessary in some cases. Cough suppressants and anti-inflammatories may also be given to make your pet more comfortable.

Can my dog get Kennel Cough more than once?

Yes. There are many different strains of Kennel Cough – as there are among common colds in humans – so your dog can catch the infection multiple times. But if your dog has contracted the Bordetella bronchiseptica strain, he or she will typically be immune to reinfection for six to 12 months.

Should I vaccinate my dog against Kennel Cough?

Kennel Cough is not normally covered in routine vaccinations but can be given as a separate vaccine through nasal drops. As there are many strains of the infection, it cannot guarantee protection (just like human flu vaccination) but at the very least should lessen symptoms.

When should the vaccine be given?

The nasal vaccine for Bordetella bronchiseptica can be given when your dog is as young as three weeks, with it providing protection for about 12 months. It takes four days for it to become effective, and is considered the fastest method of providing immunity. If you hear that other dogs in the area have Kennel Cough, it makes sense to get the vaccination done quickly as it won't help dogs already incubating Kennel Cough - it will be too late if the infection has already been picked up.

Why should I get my dog vaccinated now?

Vaccination makes particular sense in summer when dogs are out and about more and likely to meet others. Of course, there is an increased risk if your dog is going into kennels; indeed, many boarding kennels require dogs staying with them to have the Bordetella bronchiseptica vaccine. So we want to help get as many dogs as possible vaccinated so that they and you have a happy, healthy summer!

Inglis Vets are offering the Kennel Cough vaccine for only £20 this June and July! And if you're a member of our Inglis Vets Care Plan, you can get it free. Get in touch today to book an appointment.