Even though some equate kennel cough with breeding circumstances this is not the case. This condition has been termed "kennel cough" because the infection can spread quickly among dogs such as in the close quarters of a kennel for example. This does not imply that kennels cause this condition. In fact, kennel cough is defined as any respiratory disease of dogs that involves coughing that is not a result of distemper. Specifically kennel cough (also referred to as tracheobronchitis) is a highly contagious canine illness characterized inflammation of the upper respiratory system. It is transmitted through the air by infected dogs' coughing or sneezing.
Kennel cough can be caused by viral infections such as canine distemper, canine adenovirus, or canine parainfluenza virus, or bacterial infections such as Bordetella bronchiseptica. Both viral and bacterial causes of kennel cough are airborne illnesses. It can also spread through contact with contaminated surfaces and through direct contact. Exposure occurs in environments where there are other dogs in proximity such as kennels, dog shows, and groomers. Symptoms begin usually 3 to 5 days after exposure. The disease can progress to pneumonia if left untreated.
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Signs and symptoms:
Symptoms can include a harsh dry hacking/coughing retching or gagging especially in response to light pressing of the trachea. The presence of a fever varies from case to case. The disease can last anywhere from 10 to 20 days. Diagnosis is made by identifying these symptoms and following through with appropriate treatment. Also a history of exposure aids in making a diagnosis of kennel cough.
Treatment of Kennel Cough:
Treatment of kennel cough includes rest, nutritional supplements, fluids, and a warm environment. Antibiotics are given to treat any bacterial infection present. In some cases a nebulizer may be utilized and cough suppressants may used if the cough is not productive (nothing is being coughed up). While some puppies overcome the disease without any assistance in many cases intervention is essential for a full recovery.
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Preventing Kennel Cough:
Prevention is by fully vaccinating all dogs and puppies. These injections should include vaccines for canine adenovirus, distemper, parainfluenza, and Bordetella. For breeders and kennels the best prevention is to keep practice strict cleaning routines and disinfect all cages on a regular basis. Most kennels strive to eliminate the threat of kennel cough by not allowing dogs to be boarded without proof of vaccination.