Kennel Cough (Bordetella)
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Kennel cough is a highly contagious disease that can affect dogs, cats, and humans. There are numerous causes of the “kennel cough” syndrome, most commonly the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica and various parainfluenza viruses. Dogs are most commonly affected, though cats can rarely be carriers of the disease, never showing any symptoms but spreading the disease to other pets and pet owners. For pets and pet owners, the disease is most common among those with compromised immune systems, such as the very young or the elderly, and extra precaution should be taken with both age groups.
A pet contracts kennel cough when they are exposed particles of a virus or bacteria through contact or through the air, which then lingers in their respiratory tract trapping the infectious particles and resulting in an inflammation of the trachea and bronchi.
Any dog that is going to be in contact with other dogs (or even with areas where other dogs have been) is a candidate for vaccination from kennel cough. While the kennel cough or bordetella vaccination cannot prevent 100% of cases of the disease, due to the numerous strains of bacteria and viruses that can cause it, the vaccine does help your pet mount a faster and more effective immune response if he is exposed. This will lessen the duration, severity of symptoms, and likelihood of transmission to other pets.
What are the symptoms of kennel cough?
• Cough that sounds similar to honking.
• Dry hacking cough.
• Eye discharge.
• Loss of appetite.
• Reverse sneeze.
• Runny nasal discharge.
Numerous tests can be performed to diagnose a pet with bordetella. Our veterinarians will begin with a thorough history and comprehensive physical examinations to determine a potential diagnosis. Pets suffering from more severe symptoms may require a complete blood count and chest X-rays performed. Additionally, the veterinarian may swab nasal passages or the throat for any discharge and send the samples to an external lab for testing. An external lab can tell the veterinarian exactly what type of microorganism is infecting your pet.
The most common type of kennel cough is relatively mild and does not need to be treated with antibiotics. The infection will run its course, similar to a fever or cold in humans. More severe infections will be treated with oral antibiotics for a period of 10 to 14 days, sometimes longer if the symptoms are more severe. If secondary health issues are a concern, such as pneumonia or dehydration, hospitalization might be required, so the veterinarian can administer IV fluids and additional antibiotics, as well as monitor the pet. It is also important to control your dog’s coughing, as this can lead to further inflammation of the respiratory tract. Our veterinarians can prescribe cough suppressants as needed for your dog. Please do not ever administer human-labeled cough suppressants or other medications, as these can be very dangerous for your pets.
Because kennel cough is severely contagious, it is important to thoroughly sanitize an infected environment as soon as the contamination is known and isolate your sick pet from any other pets. Bowls, bedding, and litter boxes all need to be disinfected as well as any other object a pet has come into contact with.
If you have any questions about bordetella or kennel cough, feel free to contact our office at your convenience.