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What is Kennel Cough? 5 Interesting Facts to Know About

Dogs who have kennel cough have a very “contagious respiratory” condition. It is also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis or canine infectious respiratory disease. What is Kennel cough? Dogs are most likely to contract it in settings with big gatherings of canines, such as boarding and daycare facilities, dog parks, training facilities, and dog shows. Airborne droplets, direct contact, or contaminated surfaces are ways dogs can spread them to one another. In most dogs, it is easily treated, although puppies younger than six months old and dogs with weakened immune systems may experience more severe symptoms.

what is kennel cough?
Image by Fran • @thisisfranpatel from Pixabay/copyright/ 2017

1. What Is Kennel Cough?

It is a dog disease, also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis or canine infectious respiratory disease. Dogs are most likely to contract it in settings with large concentrations of canines, including boarding and daycare facilities, dog parks, training facilities, and dog shows. Airborne droplets, direct contact, or contaminated surfaces are ways dogs can spread them to one another.

Bacteria and the canine parainfluenza1 virus usually cause it. In most dogs, it is easily treated, although puppies younger than six months old and dogs with weakened immune systems may experience more severe symptoms. When bacteria or virus particles enter the respiratory tract, dogs “get” kennel cough in dogs. The respiratory tract illness, a runny nose, is extremely contagious.

Kennel cough in dogs may also show the canine distemper virus. It is frequently contracted by other dogs in settings with large concentrations of canines, including boarding and daycare facilities, training facilities, and dog shows.

Any infectious or contagious illness that affects other dogs and has coughing as one of the primary clinical indications is referred to as a dog’s kennel cough. It is also referred to as infected tracheobronchitis2. The infection in the trachea, sometimes known as the “windpipe,” and the bronchial tubes are referred to as tracheobronchitis.

A multitude of viruses and bacteria, frequently at the same time, can cause kennel cough. These include canine coronavirus, parainfluenza virus, adenovirus type 2 (different from adenovirus type 1, which causes viral hepatitis), and bacteria.

2. What Are The Symptoms Of Kennel Cough?

A prolonged, forceful cough is the typical kennel cough symptom. It frequently has a goose-honking sound. This is different from a reverse sneeze, which is a cough-like sound emitted by some infected other dogs, particularly young ones.

You may observe one or more of the following signs in your dog’s symptoms:

The most visible symptom is a persistent cough that frequently makes a “honking” sound.

  • Congestion and sneezing
  • Lethargy
  • Reduced appetite
  • Little fever
  • Runny nose
  • Weakened Immune Systems

Kevin Fitzgerald, DVM3, a contributor for AKC Family Dog, says that although kennel cough is easily curable in healthy dogs, it’s crucial to report a coughing symptom to your veterinarian because it could be a warning of more serious sickness.

3. What are the Clinical Signs of Kennel Cough Other Than a Persistent Dry Cough?

Most dogs with infected tracheobronchitis cough when their throats are stroked or rubbed during exercising or after. Following infection, the hacking cough associated with kennel cough typically lasts for several weeks. It is unlikely that your dog would lose their appetite or become lethargic if they have a kennel cough4.

It’s not unusual for multiple organisms to be present in a kennel cough episode; just one agent would be. Concomitant infections with the following organisms usually cause kennel cough:

The “bronchiseptica bacteria(bacteria)

Parainfluenza Virus Type 2 Adenovirus

Viruses that cause canine distemper, and canine herpes (very young puppies)

Inositol canis (a single-cell organism that is neither virus nor bacterium)

Canine Coronavirus and Canine Reovirus

Infection with Parainfluenza or Adenovirus Type 2 in combination with Bordetella bronchiseptica 5is the traditional combination for uncomplicated kennel cough. Pneumonia is more likely to develop in cases of infections with the canine influenza virus, Mycoplasma species, or the distemper virus. Still, it can strike any dog or puppy that is young enough, stressed out, or weak enough.

The typical respiratory system is quite well protected against invasive infectious pathogens. The “mucociliary escalator6” is perhaps the most significant of these. This defense comprises microscopic “cilia,” which project from the respiratory tract’s lining cells and cover them in a layer of mucus. The “sol,” a lower and more liquid layer of mucus, is traversed by the cilia in a synchronized motion; on top of the sol, a layer of thicker mucus known as the “gel” floats. The cilia in the throat propel the accumulated debris and mucus upward so they can be coughed up and/or swallowed. Debris, including infectious agents, become stuck in the gooey gel.

Invading bacteria, the main cause of Kennel Cough, may easily march down the airways if the mucociliary escalator isn’t fully functional.

4. How does Infection Occurs in Dogs?

The diseased dog in respiratory secretions sheds infectious bacteria and viruses. A healthy dog can breathe in these aerosolized fluids that float in the air. The likelihood of transmission is influenced by crowded living and inadequate ventilation, but organisms can also spread via toys, food bowls, and other things.

A common and extremely contagious respiratory illness in dogs is known as “kennel cough.” It typically happens in kennels or other settings with many dogs living close together. It is known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis and can be brought on by several different viruses and bacteria. However, because of the similar symptoms, kennel cough is a term applied to all illnesses.

5. What causes Kennel Cough?

The bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica most frequently brings on kennel cough. The germs lead to upper respiratory tract irritation in your dog.

A frequent virus that causes kennel cough is canine parainfluenza, often called CPIV7. Despite sharing symptoms, the viruses are distinct and call for distinct immunizations.

Canine distemper can be spread from dog to dog through the air, sharing water and food bowls, or from a mother to her pups while they are still in the womb.

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Image by Ilona Krijgsman from Pixabay/copyright 2015

6. How is Kennel Cough Treated?

Kennel Cough cases that are not difficult will resolve on their own. While the illness is healing, cough suppressants can help the patient feel more comfortable. After about a week, the dog should be noticeably better if not fully recovered. However, a few of the more active infectious agents that make up the Kennel Cough complex can turn a small case of bronchitis into pneumonia, a condition that can be fatal. In light of this likelihood, prescription antibiotics are routinely recommended to Kennel Cough patients to prevent or treat pneumonia before it requires hospitalization.

7. Treatment

There are three kennel cough vaccines available: one that is administered intravenously, one that is administered as a nasal spray, and one that can be taken orally. Due to the wide variety of germs and viruses that can cause kennel cough and infectious tracheobronchitis in many dogs, these immunizations do not always provide protection. It’s also critical to understand that neither kennel cough vaccine will treat already active illnesses.

8. What is the Treatment for Infectious Tracheobronchitis?

There is no specific treatment for viral infections, in particular, that is responsible for many of the more severe symptoms. Antibiotics are effective against this bacterium.

While severe situations demand extensive treatment, most infections are typically managed for one to three weeks. Even after the germs have been eliminated, modest clinical symptoms may still be present for a few weeks.

Your veterinarian will work with you to identify the best therapies for your dog.

9. How Effective Are These Vaccines?

Even if the dog has gone through natural infection, its immunity is neither strong nor long-lasting. We cannot anticipate significantly improved outcomes from vaccines. Because immunity varies depending on the circumstance, speak with your veterinarian for guidance on the best immunizations for your pet. Many kennel facilities require a booster inoculation right before boarding, and some veterinarians suggest a booster immunization every six months to ensure maximum defense against this unpleasant illness.

Canine Adenovirus Type 2, Canine Parainfluenza virus, Canine Distemper, and Canine Influenza are the only diseases for which vaccination is available. It is impossible to prevent infections among the Kennel Cough complex’s other members.

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Image by Mirko Sajkov from Pixabay/copyright 2020

10. Conclusion

There are now oral, injectable, and intranasal doses of the Bordetella bronchiseptica vaccine available. As early as 8 weeks of age, the vaccination can be administered orally or intravenously. It can be boosted 2-4 weeks later by the immunization recommendations made by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Typically, the injectable form is started as early as 8 weeks, followed by a booster 4 weeks later. It is advised that mature dogs who may be exposed to dangerous conditions receive vaccinations every 6 to 12 months.

11. FAQs

1. How can I tell the difference between kennel cough and canine influenza?

The infected patient’s nose and throat samples must be sent to a diagnostic lab to determine the root cause. It’s common practice to forego additional testing when symptoms seem mild. Your doctor may suggest additional diagnostics, including blood tests, chest radiography, and sample submission if the dog is lethargic, feverish, or lacks appetite.

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2. Why are Bordetella and other respiratory diseases so contagious?

The lining of a dog’s airway is where many viruses and bacteria, including bronchiseptica, love to establish themselves. When an animal coughs, the virus or bacterium is released into the air and becomes a source of infection for other animals. Any dog suspected of having a respiratory ailment should thus be kept apart from other dogs for at least one week after all symptoms have faded.

3. Are respiratory illnesses like Bordetella and canine influenza contagious to people and other animals besides dogs?

Strains of dogs only cause these ailments, and they cannot spread to people, cats, or other non-canine animals.

  1. Ellis, John A., and G. Steven Krakowka. “A review of canine parainfluenza virus infection in dogs.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 240.3 (2012): 273-284. ↩︎
  2. Craven, Donald E., and Karin I. Hjalmarson. “Ventilator-associated tracheobronchitis and pneumonia: thinking outside the box.” Clinical infectious diseases 51.Supplement_1 (2010): S59-S66. ↩︎
  3. Gutsev, G. L., and A. I. Boldyrev. “DVM-Xα calculations on the ionization potentials of MXk+ 1− complex anions and the electron affinities of MXk+ 1 “superhalogens”.” Chemical Physics 56.3 (1981): 277-283. ↩︎
  4. McCandlish, I. A., et al. “A study of dogs with kennel cough.” The Veterinary Record 102.14 (1978): 293-301. ↩︎
  5. Parkhill, Julian, et al. “Comparative analysis of the genome sequences of Bordetella pertussis, Bordetella parapertussis and Bordetella bronchiseptica.” Nature genetics 35.1 (2003): 32-40. ↩︎
  6. Whitsett, Jeffrey A. “Airway epithelial differentiation and mucociliary clearance.” Annals of the American Thoracic Society 15.Supplement 3 (2018): S143-S148. ↩︎
  7. Mouzin, Douglas E., et al. “Duration of serologic response to five viral antigens in dogs.” Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 224.1 (2004): 55-60. ↩︎

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