Canine infectious tracheobronchitis is the scientific name for a highly contagious respiratory disease in dogs called kennel cough. Dog owners usually suspect their dogs have kennel cough when their furry friend has a dry, persistent cough. Some dog owners describe the sound of their dog coughing as a gagging noise or like they are trying to clear a hairball from their throat, sort of like a cat. This disease is often compared to whooping cough in humans.
If you are a dog owner who wants to know about this contagious disease, here are the answers to three frequently asked questions about kennel cough.
1. What Causes Kennel Cough?
The primary cause of kennel cough is a bacteria called Bordetella bronchiseptica. The condition usually occurs when this particular bacteria mixes with certain viruses, such as:
- Canine distemper virus
- Canine para-influenza virus type 2
- Canine respiratory coronavirus
- Canine adenovirus type 2
- Canine herpes virus
When a dog has kennel cough, it can easily spread to other dogs. Kennel cough is spread through infected droplets that become airborne when a dog barks, as well as direct contact with an infected dog. Another way kennel cough gets spread is when dogs share contaminated surfaces, such as water and food bowls. Kennel cough can easily become a problem in places where large amounts of dogs are kept, such as kennels and shelters.
2. How Is Kennel Cough Treated?
In many cases, when a dog has kennel cough it seems they simply have a cold. These mild cases go away on their own. If the kennel cough is more serious, a visit to an animal hospital is warranted. A veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics or cough medicine for the dog.
Some dogs with kennel cough may develop complications, such as pneumonia or chronic bronchitis. This is especially the case for puppies, older dogs, or dogs with weakened immune systems. If the dog gets worse instead of better, they will need to receive treatment at an animal hospital.
3. Can Kennel Cough Be Prevented?
There is a pet vaccination called Bordetella that helps prevents dogs from getting kennel cough. Most veterinarians only recommend this vaccination for dogs that are around other dogs a lot. This include dogs that do the following:
- Compete in competitions
- Frequently stay at a boarding kennel
- Go to obedience school or training classes
- Go to the dog park
Since kennel cough is so contagious, boarding kennels usually require dogs to have this vaccination before they stay at the facility. Dogs that get the vaccination may need a booster every six months or every year.