Symptoms of Kennel Cough for Park Ridge, NJ Dog Owners

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Kennel cough is a term that actually encompasses symptoms that can originate from a variety of sources. It is known as Infectious Canine Tracheobronchitis. Infectious means it can spread from one dog (or animal) to another. Tracheobronchitis means inflammation in the chest and lungs. Infectious Canine Tracheobronchitis (kennel cough) can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungus, and even parasites.

symptoms of kennel cough in park ridge, nj

The most common kennel cough that owners are aware of is Bordetella Bronchiseptica– this is the Bordetella or “kennel cough” vaccine that most veterinarians recommend annually.

No matter what you call it, kennel cough is something that needs to be treated as soon as possible before it gets out of hand. We’ll go over some of the symptoms of kennel cough that Park Ridge, NJ dog owners should keep an eye out for.

How Can My Dog Get Kennel Cough in Park Ridge, NJ?

The vaccine is recommended for any dog that comes into frequent, prolonged contact with other dogs. When we think of kennel cough, we imagine at- risk dogs to be those that go to boarding kennels frequently. The truth is, the at-risk dog category is much wider than that.

Any dog who has contact with other dogs is at risk. This includes grooming salons, even if your dog is only there for an hour. It also includes dog parks, because even though they are typically hosted in open- air areas, not enclosed spaces, direct contact with a dog who is carrying kennel cough is enough for transmission.

Dog shows are particularly risky, especially given the anti-vaccine movements among some breeders in recent years; you as a dog owner have no idea what other people are vaccinating their pets for, and if someone else isn’t protecting their pet from kennel cough, that pet can catch it and transmit it to yours.

If your dog ever ends up at the pound because a dog control officer picked it up, they’re placed in an environment with other dogs who have unknown history, and they are at risk. Even if you don’t really take your dog anywhere, if they have exposure to a family member or friend’s dog who goes to any of these places, your dog is at risk.

Another potential source of exposure includes dog- friendly social events or venues. Does your local brewery allow dogs? Do you go to dog- walk events or fundraisers? Any place with a high concentration of dogs, where vaccination requirements are not observed, is a potential hot- spot for the spread of infectious disease.

But My Dog Is Vaccinated for Kennel Cough, They’ll Be Fine

As mentioned above, the Bordetella vaccine covers just one of the many potential causes of kennel cough. It only protects against Bordetella specifically. Some other vaccines include parainfluenza, which is another cause of kennel cough.

However, there is no vaccine for respiratory bacterial infections, fungal infections, etc. And there are multiple strains of the common viruses.

As with the Flu vaccine for people, it is in your dog’s best interest to get the vaccine done, but that’s not a guarantee that they won’t develop kennel cough from exposure to something the vaccine can’t protect them from.

What Does Kennel Cough Look like?

Kennel cough presents as the sudden onset of dry, hacking cough. It is generally managed symptomatically (reduce the severity of signs until it resolves on its own.)

It is important to know that kennel cough ONLY comes on suddenly, and generally resolves within 2-3 weeks. If your dog has a cough that is chronic, happens daily over an extended period of time, and does not resolve on its own, this could indicate other more sinister disease process happening- heart disease, lung disease, laryngeal paralysis, collapsing trachea, etc. You should bring your dog to the vet at the onset of symptoms to get a proper diagnosis and treatment.

When you bring your pet to the veterinarian for an exam, make sure to give them a thorough history. Let them know how much exposure your dog has to other dogs. Remember all the potential exposure areas listed above (boarding, groomer, Dog Park, dogs owned by friends / family, a recent trip to the pound, frequent trips to dog-friendly events and venues.)

How Is Kennel Cough Diagnosed?

When the doctor does their exam, they will listen to your dog’s heart and lungs. They will probably also feel the trachea (throat) on the front of their neck. In dogs with kennel cough, handling the trachea causes the dog to cough/ hack almost every time.

Kennel cough dogs do not usually have a fever or other signs, though if the dog is very young, very old, or has immune compromise for some reason, it is possible that kennel cough symptoms will progress due to secondary infection (bacterial pneumonia).

This is the same thing that happens when humans catch a cold- some people have to be very careful when cold and flu season arrives, because they end up with pneumonia after catching even just a mild cold.

Treating Kennel Cough in Park Ridge, NJ

The first thing to know when your dog is diagnosed with kennel cough, is that your dog should not be taken to any dog- friendly spaces while they’re recovering. Taking a sick dog to a boarding kennel, groomer, dog park, etc puts other dogs at risk.

Treatment is mostly directed at managing symptoms and comfort. The doctor will likely prescribe some kind of dog friendly cough suppressant. In some cases, if the signs are severe enough, they may need to dispense additional medications like bronchodilators, steroids, or antibiotics if a secondary infection is suspected.

Tips to Preventing Kennel Cough for Park Ridge, NJ Dog Owners

The most obvious way to prevent kennel cough is to not allow your dog to have contact with others. This isn’t really a reasonable option though- our dogs need social stimulation and interaction too.

Veterinarians strongly recommend the kennel cough vaccine for any dog who is at risk. It is available in three forms (injection, intranasal, and oral). Dogs that are at high risk (dog shows, etc) might need the vaccine every 6 months, while the average dog will probably just get it once a year.

Kennel cough is an infectious disease that has good recovery rates when treated properly. If you think your dog has kennel cough, or your dog has had a cough for a long time that hasn’t gone away, please schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible

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